Friday, November 30, 2012

Feeling Accomplished

All set for the show tomorrow! I'm hoping it goes well but I got everything all ready for tomorrow which makes me feel a little better.

I spent my allotted 4 hours at the barn and managed to get everything I needed to do done. Cleaned stalls in record time, finished them in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Rode Tux and he was good despite the long break, we worked on transitions and he was near perfect with his leads. After the ride he got a bath and got scrubbed and bleached from head to toe.

I put him away to dry off and hooked up, turned around and positioned the trailer so we can just load and go in the morning. Cleaned tack and my tall boots and loaded that into the trailer. After double and triple checking that I had everything needed I swept the aisle, watered all the horses and braided Tux's mane, forelock and tail. I think I did everything!

The truck is full of gas and ready to go. All that's needed is my lunch (I already have Tux's) and my show clothes which are at home cleaned and ready to go. Feels good to be prepared. I have to memorize my two tests and our first ride is at 10:42am. Even though it's a schooling show I decided to do all the braiding and full show clothes because I figure that even if we jump out of the dressage arena, spook at the judge, fail our canter leads and throw in a buck or two at least we'll look good doing it!

All dolled up :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(mostly) Wordless Wednesday

This is what dead week and a lack of riding time does to me. I ate the whole thing... in one sitting...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Just wanted to do a little post for reaching a milestone! I've officially posted over 500 posts and have 70 followers. Thanks so much for following along! I'm really enjoying writing this blog and am still amazed that it has lasted this long. So thank you for making that happen :)

Both the ponies are happy about this too:

Ok, maybe Jetta's not, but the only thing she's enthusiastic about is food...

Did you say food?

Monday, November 26, 2012


Not expecting much riding at all this week, but yesterday I decided to ride Jetta since I got a new bit in the mail.

Despite lots of working on this issue, Jetta continues to do what I call "burying herself" when we jump basically just hanging on the bit. She's ok at home but when we go to another arena or show it is worse. It takes way too much energy and strength to keep her up off the bit so I've decided to bit up a little. Three options: loose ring waterford that we use for cross country, segunda D-ring or pelham.

Our normal Myler

The waterford is what we use for cross country and while she goes really well in it, I think it would back her off the jumps in an arena too much and I think it's better to "save" it for xc. Next option, the segunda, which is what I just got in the mail from ebay.

The Segunda

I wasn't too optimistic about this bit. It seems like there's a 50/50 split on this bit for it either working or not working at all. I was pleasantly surprised though. We had a little bit more brakes and no leaning on the bit. Hmm, this might work. I set up a jump just to test it out and it seems like it might be our magic bit! Jetta didn't resist it either - I wouldn't want to use something that would cause her to toss her head or gape her mouth.

The pelham

I decided to try our third option anyways. Took some finagling to get it on, I've never used a pelham before. Once all set up we started off and schooled over the jump a few times. I was afraid the leverage would cause her to bury herself even more but actually it was just fine. She didn't carry her head any lower than normal and didn't try to pull on it. We may have had just a little bit more brakes, but she did not approve of this bit. Every so often when the curb came into play she'd toss her head. Don't like! Too bad, but maybe something we'll use in the future, though I'm kinda glad since jumping with two sets of reins might be a bit too much for me, though I'll admit I think Jetta looked pretty snazzy in a pelham :)

Looking snazzy and very unimpressed

The real test will come when we have a lesson with KO in December. We'll see how well the segunda works then. For now, we'll continue schooling at home in the Myler and only break out the segunda for shows and clinics. Is it bad that now I want to get a schooling bridle for the Myler so I don't have to switch bits back and forth? (*cough* I already have 6 bridles for this one horse...)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gloriously Long Weekend

I love four day weekends, so. much. I spent most of it with my family but then tomorrow, Sunday it's back to work because Monday marks the beginning of dead week aka the reason you feel like a zombie so I have to study up for all my test! Unfortunately I think that will mean very little riding in the next week and a half, especially because I'm cleaning stalls.

I'm already questioning my decision to clean stalls. I'm out of practice, it takes me forever, and by the time I'm done I don't want to ride. But I think it will be better in the long run. Nine stalls takes me two hours, plus 30 minutes to sweep and fill water buckets. Ugh. I have to use a four wheeler that has a cart on the back and we do not get along... it never wants to go in reverse so I end up just pushing it around (and it's a BIG four wheeler) plus it seems to have a mind of it's own on the speed it wants to go and it never wants to shift above first. Sigh.

Tux has been really good. I love riding him. We've been working on fine tuning the upward canter transition and that makes him slightly upset when I insist that it's prompt, but we're getting there. The right lead canter is still a little iffy. He'll get it the first time or two I ask, but on the third time I ask for it he gives me a left lead. But, I'm pleased to say that the quality of his canter has improved 100%, his transitions are great and his leg yields are amazing. I was telling Jetta to watch and learn today because hers kind of suck. I've started to introduce shoulder-in and he's still a bit confused by it. Turns on the haunches are quite nice, but turns on the forehand need a little work. Overall, everything's coming together!

We're gearing up for a schooling show on the 1st which I'm really excited about. I haven't gotten confirmation that they've received my entry yet so it's still not a done deal. In the past year we've had: a hoof abscess, suspected strangles outbreak, show cancellation and show full. I'm betting that if anything happens this time around, it will be that they never receive my entry. Fingers crossed!

Jetta is currently being neglected. I rode her on Wednesday, then nothing Thursday, Friday I lunged her in side reins and today she just hung out in the arena and flirted with the geldings while I rode Tux. And she probably won't get ridden much in the next week since I'll be concentrating what time I do have on Tux. Hopefully we'll have a jumping lesson with JB next Thursday (first week of December).

No pictures of the ponies so here's my Thanksgiving:

The amazing and delicious turkey, Toby the chihuahua all cozied up, our beautiful table setting and my brother's idea of the appropriate amount of whipped cream needed for pumpkin pie. It was a good few days off :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy thanksgiving!

I saw this survey on a couple different blogs, starting with Viva Carlos and thought it looked fun - everybody's doing it :) 

Splurge or save: 
1. saddle save-ish - it's used and nice, not super fancy but it works!
2. board save as much as I can w/o compromising care, I really lucked out at finding an amazing, cheap place!
3. halter well, Jetta has three halters - two cheap ones and one fancy one for shows, so in between
4. bit  save, try to buy used ones
5. bridle save - most of my bridles are used, I actually only have one I bought new and it was on sale
6. saddle pad  save
7. trailer well, it was expensive, but when compared to other trailers, it was a save :)

First thing that comes to mind: 
1. Haflinger Cute!
2. Quarter Horse Jazz and Grady, my two most amazing horses
3. Thoroughbred Jetta
4. Warmblood Someday...
5. Welsh Cob So freaking adorable! And talented. I'd love a North Forks Cardi baby someday :)

This or That:
1. English or Western - I do both but have started to prefer english
2. tall or short - tall horses are my favorite :)
3. trail ride or beach ride - love both, but beach rides are so much fun
4. long mane or short mane - easier to maintain
5. hunters or jumpers
6. XC or barrel racing
7. outdoor arena or indoor arena - at least when it's nice out!
8. trot or canter 
9. canter or gallop - the faster the better
10. paddock boots, tall boots, or cowboy boots
11. horse shoes or barefoot - barefoot all the way!
12saddle or bareback - all my horses except Tux have super bony backs - no thank you!

About you: 
1. How long have you been riding? 11 years
2. Do you own or lease a horse? own 4 horses, Jetta is the main girl though
3. Breed? Age? Height? Name? (if you don’t own or lease, you could talk about your lesson horse) Thoroughbred, 6, 16.2hh, Jetta
4. Do you have any other pets?   Yes, I have a cat named Chloe that lives at my parent's house and two family dogs
5. If your horse was a person, what kind of voice would they have Hmm, tough one. Probably slightly preppy and obnoxious even though she's super smart :)
6. Does your horse have a “color”? If so, what is it, and what do you have in that color? aqua blue and navy - aaand we have saddle pads, duct tape, polo shirts, blankets, etc.
7. Does your horse do any tricks? She plays with a bouncy ball :) But not really
8. Have you ever dressed your horse up for Halloween? Not Jetta, but it would be fun!

1. Breed? QH, TB, Warmblood
 2. Discipline? Eventing, Dressage, Jumpers
3. Coat color? In order - Palomino, Buckskin, Gray, Chestnut with chrome
4. Famous horse? Snowman 
5. Horse race/competition? Hmm, Inavale HT is my favorite that I've been to so far, but I love watching Rolex!
6. Brand of tack? Antares!!
7. Thing to do with your horse? Trail ride or basically doing anything outside

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More Reasons Why I Love My Barn

Might be a little bit early, but... Feels like Christmas!! My favorite holiday :)

ETA: Please keep Jazzy in your thoughts. I got a call from her lessor today that she was acting colicky yesterday and wasn't eating or drinking so she had the vet out today. The vet said that Jazz isn't colicking - she has normal gut sounds, is pooping and has a normal temperature, she's just not eating and seems listless. I'm super worried about her, sure that she has some obscure disease. I'm desperately trying to convince myself that googling horse diseases whose symptoms include lethargy and anorexia will not help, but only make it worse, but I hate not knowing! The vet took a blood and fecal sample and will have results tomorrow. I'm probably over-thinking it but she's never been sick in the nine years that I've owned her and I know she's getting older so I'm worried about my girl!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Time is Short

Had a good session with Tux today. I didn't ride but instead did some liberty work. I couldn't find my halter (turns out it was right in front of my face) and since all the barn doors were closed I let him out of the stall, he ground tied while I took his blanket off then followed me into the arena. He followed me back and forth as I set up a little jump for him. I love that he's starting to trust me more and more!

I free lunged him for a bit and it took a little while for him to realize that jumping was ok. The barrels are not for kicking or stepping on. As I was putting the jumps away I kicked out the bouncy ball for him to play with. I can't get over how cute it is! He kicked it around a bit then got to work demolishing the jumps. He was so proud of himself. He walked up to a jump block, delicately stepped over with one leg and then the other. He looked back at me then finished walking over it with his hind legs without knocking it over. That's what I was supposed to do right mom? So cute. Then he turned around and nudged it over with his nose.

Afterwards I finally found his halter and we worked on entering the dreaded pony torture chamber wash rack. It took a few minutes of convincing but I finally got him to go in. I let him relax in there, then practiced leading in and out a handful of times, then ended by sending him in by himself and making him stand there for a minute. It apparently wasn't that bad, since he did survive. He might have to actually get a bath next time...

Tux got lucky and scored a move into the big stall. It's about 12x16 or 20 so it fits him perfectly :) I've decided to board him for another month or at least until he sells, especially as it's started raining in earnest now (it was pouring today!) and that won't stop until about the 4th of July. In order to afford this whole, boarding two horses thing, I am going to start cleaning stalls 5 days a week. Oh the joy - full time in school, plus riding two horses, plus cleaning 10 stalls a day. But it's worth it.

I can't put into words how much I don't want to sell this horse. But I can't afford to actively ride, board, compete, etc. with two horses. It's just not financially possible while I'm in school which sucks. I've really become attached to him - of course I've liked all the other horses I've trained, but I love his personality, I love how hard he tries and I really do think he has the potential to do well in dressage. But I want to event. I do love dressage, but I couldn't give up my jumping goals. So as soon as school is out for the term, I will list him on dreamhorse and hope he doesn't sell too quickly....

In the meantime though, we are going to a dressage schooling show on December 1st and then going to school the Mountain Trail Course on the 7th. Hopefully somewhere in there I'd like to have a lesson with TS and see what she thinks of the monster pony and maybe she can help in placing him in a good home with one of her clients. We shall see!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Butt Kicking

Jetta and I got our butts kicked in a lesson with KO today. It was a good lesson, but geez it was hard! I'm so out of shape for doing jumping.

As soon as I got on Jetta I knew it was going to be an interesting ride... She was pulling on me and then spooking at all the jumps. Oh joy. I rode her last night just to make sure she was sound and she was awesome. No theatrics whatsoever. We worked on our brakes and leg yields, two things I knew we'd have to have for our lesson. She was so good.

I got to use our new leg wraps I got for my b-day for the first time and I love them! So much better than using shipping wraps or doing standing wraps. Love them.

Looking legit in our trailering gear. Now all we need is a turquoise web halter for trailering!
Fancy new Premier Equine quick wraps

Anyways, we worked on the flat at first and Jetta got complimented on her trot and that she looked good :) I however, got constantly told to sit up, shoulders back! I swear, someday that advice is going to stick, I promise... I think I need to record KO yelling at me then play it on my ipod while I ride at home. That would be kind of amusing.

We moved onto the jumps and the first jump was doing a figure 8 over a tiny vertical with two ground poles in front. The poles were placed close together so the horses really had to shorten their stride to get both strides in. Jetta however on our first time through took a flying leap after the first ground pole. Over achiever. It was a tough exercise for us because Jetta has such a huge stride so packaging her up that tight took some doing. We got it eventually. Then we put together a mini-course. The same vertical with the two ground poles, 6 to 7 strides straight ahead to a small oxer with flowers. Jetta jumped this one nicely (she always jumps oxers nicely). Then right turn after the oxer and make a left handed loop around to jump some barrels (easy) then continue to the left to jump a 1/4 round. Hah. We've never jumped a roll top and even with a strong leg on Jetta refused. Second time around HUGE leap over it like it was 3'6" even though it was probably barely 2'3". We did the barrel to roll top several times until we nailed it.

The next course was even more fun. The two ground pole jump taken twice off of each rein, then straight ahead to the oxer, loop around to the left to come through a three-bounce and one one-stride gymnastic. We really haven't done many gymnastics so that was kind of interesting. Come around to the other side of the arena and do two verticals, three strides apart, then four strides to the roll top. Hah. Not that scary but for some reason Jetta refused super close to the first jump then jumped back and I almost came off, luckily just landing on her neck. Sigh. Take two - super strong leg and more forgiving hand and we launched our way through it. Not very pretty. Take three, still a little overenthusiastic but she went for the roll top, landed straight without scooting away after the jump and came back to a nice trot. Finally. I was about ready to die.

Looking snazzy! Tired pony.
Take away from the lesson - get Jetta's canter more collected, leg on. Just because I'm trying to get her collected doesn't mean I can't release over the jumps (duh). Sit up, sit up, sit up! Land straight, sit up and make a balanced and collected turn, even if you end up counter cantering. Look towards your next jump! All in all, a good lesson and now I have some motivation to continue jumping. We're never going to move up if I never jump! Jumping lesson on Wednesday with JB so we'll see how that works out...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Faking It

I often say that Jetta is too smart for her own good... And I'm convinced she made up her little lameness episode!

Here's the chain of events:
  • Monday - hooves trimmed, afterwards I rode her pretty hard
  • Tuesday - no ride, didn't get to the barn at all
  • Wednesday - pulled her out of the stall, dead lame on her front feet on hard ground and reluctant to move on hard ground. Not too bad on soft ground (only slightly off in the trot) but too lame to ride. 
  • Thursday - pulled her out of the stall, not lame one bit. Trotted her down the concrete aisle - 99.9% better. Maybe a touch short on her right front which was the more ouchie one, but barely. 
  • Friday - still perfectly sound on hard ground, lunged her in the arena and looked back to 100%
I think she may have figured out that she had a lesson so she "exaggerated" her tenderness to get out of work, lol. What did I tell you? This horse is just too smart. 

Faker. That trot looks fine to me!

Today is the true test though as I'm going to ride her. Wish me luck the fire breathing dragon doesn't make an appearance after several days with no rides and no turnout (I didn't want her further bruising her hooves if that was what the problem was).

The plan is to ride both ponies today and they both get baths too. Tomorrow is our lesson with KO and since ML isn't going, I am going to take both Jetta and Tuxedo so Tux can get used to standing tied to the trailer and then I can ride him in a new arena setting. Looking forward to it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Play Time

I don't know about you, but I love playing horseback games with my horses.

My trainer at home used to have game nights where you'd bring your horse and pay $20 that would later be put into a jackpot and play things like trotting races (definitely a favorite of mine), simon says, soccer, relay races, dollar bill races, egg and spoon, and a personal favorite: tag.

I have some really fun memories from those game nights. I think the best night was playing freeze tag. Two people got carrot sticks (the Parelli lunge whips minus the string) and they had to tag the humans (this is all mounted) and once tagged you had to stand still. I was the last person that didn't get tagged so Jazz and I were cantering all around the arena, weaving in and out of horses and trying to stay un-tagged for as long as possible. I narrowly squeaked by one of the "it" people and she was so over-acheiving that when I ran past she hit me as hard as she could with the carrot stick on my thigh because in the past she had been too slow to hit me. We all had a good laugh over that, especially since it didn't really hurt. I still tease her though, "Remember that one time when you hauled off and whacked me with a carrot stick?"

Soccer is another favorite and Jazz and I were champs at it. We were only beat by one girl and her horse who bit other people's horses so of course she did well because every other horse wanted to stay as far away from that horse as possible, lol. In any case, I love teaching my horses to kick the big bouncy balls around because it's entertaining, some of them have fun doing it, and it's a great way of desensitizing them.

I hadn't introduced Tux to one yet and the ball at the barn had rolled into the middle of the arena when I went to go ride so I figured I'd see what he thought. He was completely interested in it - ears glued forward. I led him around for a bit while I pushed the ball so he could see that he could chase it, then let him push it with his nose, then his legs. He was pretty much completely fine with it so I got on and let him play with it undersaddle, trying to teach him that pushing it with his nose and kicking it was good, but stomping on it or pinning it with his nose then stepping on it was bad. He had a blast! New favorite toy of his I think.

I got a video of him playing with it while I'm riding him so it is a pretty odd perspective, but I think it's adorable. Jetta also likes playing with the ball, but Tux is even more enthusiastic about it. Have I mentioned I love training babies? They're so much fun!

Our ride was fantastic and pretty hilarious. We played with the ball for a bit and Tux learned an important lesson about how stepping on the ball is bad and we almost went down. Silly boy. I relegated the ball to the far end of the arena and got to work. He was pretty much a rockstar. But, whenever we passed the ball hanging out on the wall, he'd prick his ears toward it and drift closer. We were cantering and I hadn't been paying attention to how close we were to the ball and lo and behold he was locked onto the bouncy ball and was running it down! Steering is still sometimes optional in the canter and he was so focused on his ball that I knew he wasn't going to turn. I just had visions of both of his front feet landing on the ball, him falling on his side and me flying off. Luckily, he hit just right with his front feet so that he kicked it instead of stepping on it (all during the canter mind you) and it bounced away in the opposite direction so that I could rein him in and take a deep breath before I fell off of him because I was laughing so hard. My life almost flashed before my eyes! He is such a funny horse.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random Thoughts

So this post is going to be in no way coherent, but here goes:

No lesson today. I got out to the barn and rode Tux, then when I went to pull Jetta out of her stall she hobbled out. I thought maybe she just stepped out funny so I tacked her up and took her into the arena to lunge. She looked fine on soft ground, so when JB got there I asked her opinion and she thought it was fine so I hopped on. Not going to work, most definitely ouchy. Sigh, and I know it's my fault she's sore because I rode her so hard right after she got her hoof trim on Monday (plus she probably got trimmed a bit too short). Usually I don't ride if they get their feet done, but I was planning on just doing a short ride which would have been fine, but she was naughty so I ended up riding her really hard so we could end on a good note. Not good.

On the plus side I got to try Jetta's new ear net I got her over the weekend at the fancy tack store. Couldn't pass it up for $25 especially when it matched my saddle pad exactly!

Love the matchy matchy!

Not enthused about the whole ear net situation...
Have to say I wasn't all that bummed though about no lesson. I'm leaning more and more towards not riding with this trainer. I got to watch her ride the BO's horse today and I wasn't that impressed. She's not bad or anything, I just thought she wasn't that great. It may be ridiculous, but I hold my trainers to high standards - I want them to be really, really good so that I can learn lots from them. I just don't feel that way about this lady. I feel like we're pretty much at the same level and I noticed she missed a lot of training opportunities with the horse she was riding, for no apparent reason. We will try again next week and we'll see what I think of her jumping training skills then.

While I was watching JB ride, I was talking with the BO. They're getting a baby horse this weekend!! I'm excited, I love babies :) They are getting a 6 month old paint filly. Why, I have no idea since they just sold one of their horses because they had too many and now they're getting another one. But, they are going to let me play with it so I'm happy!

In other news, I'm really, really hoping that Jetta is no longer ouchy by this weekend since I signed up for a lesson with my favorite eventing trainer KO. I haven't been able to take a lesson with her in a really long time so I'm looking forward to it and I don't want to have to cancel. Jetta will get this whole week off and we'll see how she feels on Saturday.

I dug out some of my favorite ribbons that have just been kind of sitting around and decided to decorate my room at school with them. I love the result. Most of these are from Jazz, there's a couple that are from Jetta but I'm looking forward to add more and more from Jetta!

Only my favorites made the cut.

Also, I bought some adorable tops from DabbleBay. If you haven't seen this, click on the link! They have a bunch on sale right now. I just got mine in the mail and am in love with it. It may almost be right up there in my favorite horse shirts with my "Horses make me happy. You, not so much" shirt that I won from Stacey over at Behind the Bit Blog. So cute.

On sale = now mine

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lilo Fore Clinic

Since today I didn't get to ride, I thought I'd write up a post about the clinic I audited on Sunday. I really enjoyed it - it was with Lilo Fore, whom I had heard of but didn't know very much about. Here's something I found on the USDF website about her:

"Lilo Fore: A name synonymous with dressage in the US, Lilo Fore is an FEI “I” Judge and has been a member of the ground jury for numerous USET selection trials for the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games and The Olympics. She is also an FEI “C” Judge for Para-Equestrian and a USEF “R” judge for Sport Horse.
She is a founding member of the USDF Instructor Certification Program and is currently an examiner. She has chaired or been a member of numerous committees for the USDF and USEF as well as being a successful rider, trainer and coach. Many of the horses she trained won national and international competitions.
A breeder of sport horses, Ms. Fore stood up to six stallions at stud and earned numerous awards with
her horses in breed shows in the USA and Canada from her own breeding program. She prepared her
stallions for 100 day stallion testing and all passed and were licensed.
She owns and operates Sporthorse America; a dressage training facility started 1989 and located in Sana Rosa, CA."

The clinic was about an hour and a half away so I woke up way, way too early (5:30 am - such an awful time of morning) to shower and get ready. We left at 6:30 and managed not to get lost, which is always a plus when I'm driving. JT came with me, who is the vice president of the dressage team and she's a fun person so at least we were able to keep eachother awake talking on the drive.

The first horse up was a four year old warmblood. She was stunning - such a pretty girl with near perfect conformation and nice gaits. The theme for the day through all of the horses was getting their hind end engaged, lift through their shoulders and absolutely no leaning on the bit allowed.

I really liked Lilo's training methods and teaching style and I wouldn't hesitate to ride with her, though sometimes her accent was hard for me to understand, especially with the echoing through the huge, beautiful arena. She used a lot of haunches in to get the horse to step deeper under themselves, thus become more engaged. A lot of shoulders in, travers and renvers as well. She explained most things in easy to understand terms and there was a couple "light bulb moments". Some of her most common/entertaining phrases:

"Why aren't you kicking? Your legs are flailing!!!" (That one had JT and I giggling, where's your pony club kick when you need one?)
"Trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot, trot..." To help rider's keep a rhythm
"Half pass is just travers on a diagonal"
"The bit is for communication, not for leaning"
"Why the hell are you so far off the rail?"

Whenever the dressage team goes to a clinic we always pick our favorite horses, the ones we would smuggle home with us if we could. For JT, it was the pretty young black WB mare that we saw first. I'll admit she was stunning, but my favorite was a little welsh cob that was schooling fourth level. Can you say adorable!! He was so nice.

We also got to watch a trainer that we're going to be taking some lessons with in the future. She was riding a client's horse that she has trained - a 13.3 hand Morgan that has to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen. He's like an itty-bitty warmblood with a full-sized attitude. This was a two day clinic so I guess by the second day he'd just had it with schooling pirouettes and he wasn't about to go forward so there were quite a few interesting moments, but he is successfully showing fourth level and will be moving up to PSG/I2 this next year. It was really neat to see the trainer ride though, I feel like oftentimes you don't get to see that as much when you go to take a lesson with someone.

So cute.
Overall, a great experience and we might go back to audit another of her clinics the first weekend of December. Ended the day with a visit to the very large and amazing tack shop - can't drive all the way there and not take a tiny detour to go to a tack store right?

Monday, November 12, 2012

None Too Pleased

Today I did not have a good ride on Jetta and I was none too pleased. We've been diligently working on the stuff that JB had us do in our lesson but instead of getting better, things are getting worse.

In pursuit of a slow trot and a nice canter transition, I now have a horse that's leaning on the bit, heavy on the forehand, has lost all impulsion and swing in the back and anticipates a canter transition every time I ask her to step over. Not how it's supposed to be. About halfway through our ride and getting so frustrated I basically just said screw it, we're not working on that any more. We're doing things my way now. Back to a normal trot speed trying to get some more elasticity back, lots of spiraling in and out on a circle to get Jetta to lift her shoulders, lots of trot-halt transitions to get her off my hands and paying attention to my seat. We ended much better than we started out but it was still frustrating.

I feel like we've taken quite a few steps back in our training just in the past two weeks following our lesson and I'm not happy about it. I had just finally gotten Jetta to maintain a perfect, floaty trot and got her soft and responsive to the bit and now I feel like everything's messed up. We have another lesson on Wednesday and depending on how that goes we may or may not be a third lesson with this trainer. I may just stick to having some jumping lessons with this trainer and no more dressage lessons - I'll leave the dressage to TS where I feel like every time I ride with her we get a dramatic improvement.

Anyways, after being completely frustrated with Jetta I hopped on Tux for a nice de-stressing ride. I didn't even bother to take off his blanket, we just putzed around the arena bareback, got some of the most perfect leg yields ever and then at the end, spent some time clambering around on his back to see if he was ok with it. He totally was - he stood stock still while I brushed my legs all over him and finally stretched out on his large rump to take a nap. This horse is like a couch.

How can I be upset with this face to snuggle?

Both ponies also got their feet done this morning so now they have pretty toes. Tux still has a bit of thrush going on in his frogs but other than that I got the trimmer stamp of approval - both of their hooves' are looking very nice and Jetta's got some nice concavity going on. Still can't get over the transformation her hooves have taken - who would of thought that the TB with crumbly, flat pancake feet would have such strong, rock crunching hooves today?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Quality Time

Got to spend some quality time with both ponies today!

Jetta got her haircut done. It was surprising the amount of hair she'd already put on. Normally she doesn't get that much of a winter coat but she definitely did this year! I decided to go with a blanket clip this time around - last year she got a trace clip and while I liked that, I wanted to take a little more hair off this year but not do a full body clip.

What did you do to me??

Left side. I don't know where I went wrong with this side, but I don't like it very much.

Right side. This side looks really good I think.
So I don't know how I managed it, but her left side doesn't look very good. I messed up in the hip area and didn't get the lines as straight as it should be. But I think if I tried to fix it, it would make it too far up her side, so I guess I'll just live with it. Her right side looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself :) I am definitely not that good at clipping, so I'll take it. It was hard enough to get one side done well - I even managed to accidentally shave off part of her mane when she bobbed her head. Oops.

After I got all the clipping done I hopped on and had a good ride. Her canter transitions to the left are really good but the right lead transitions aren't so hot. I'm hoping we can get those ironed out by Wednesday so that JB can see that we've been practicing when we have our lesson. Afterwards, even with all that hard work, Jetta was still dry. Yay for no hair!

Tux was up next. His clip is looking really good. Since I don't have actual body clippers, mine leave lines but they grow out within a couple days so you can't see any evidence that there were lines anymore on him. He was also really good under saddle. I dragged out some poles for him to trot and canter over and he was a champ. He pricked his ears and stared pretty hard at them when I asked him to trot over them, but after a couple times it was no big deal and he did it with no problem. I started out with the trot poles at his normal trot stride width but then spread them a bit more so he really had to reach and engage his abdominal muscles and hind end to get over them. I really do think he could go far in dressage since he has so much try and for being a drafty he's really athletic (just not very fit quite yet...). After he was comfortable at the trot I spread the poles apart even farther so we could canter and he was so good! I think he'd also make a fun little jumper pony - we got some tight turns in there :)

Overall, a good, productive day. I love days like this!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Late Night Pony Ride

Last night after all my midterms and meetings I finally made it out to the barn! Feels so good to go after a few days of not being able to.

I had such a hard time deciding who to ride - I didn't want to be at the barn until 11 (pulling two late nights in a row = could hardly keep my eyes open) so I was planning just riding Jetta. But, when I got there Tux was looking so cute and ready to be ridden I couldn't resist. Plus, we hadn't gotten to try out his new haircut anyways!

I hopped on him and had a productive ride. It took him a minute to settle into the contact and get ready to work. At first our ride went like this:

Tux: There's something in the corner!!
Me: No there's not.
Tux: But there was! I saw it!
Me: Well it's not there now. Get over it. 
Tux: I did see something, I swear... grumble, grumble. 

 But once we got warmed up he was really good. His canter is really coming along. He's having a bit of trouble staying in the canter now that we're slowing it down and I'm asking for some self carriage, but he just needs the muscles because he'll get it and I can feel that he's round, his back is up and he's reaching under with his hind end aaaand then he trots. But we're getting there. Starting to introduce shoulder-fore at the walk and he's doing really well with that.

Today the plan is to ride both ponies (yay!). Tux will get a bit of a fun ride, I'm going to bring out some ground poles and working on trotting and cantering over them, so hopefully that goes as easily as I think it will. I might clip Jetta either today or tomorrow, she seems so fuzzy compared to Tux now :) We are going to audit a clinic on Sunday, hoof trim on Monday and then we have a lesson next Wednesday!

Looking dapper in his new (old) blanket.

I picked up this cute, cheap-y browband. It has black glitter so just a little bit of bling :)

No hair = no sweat

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Got Nothing

Hmph. I feel like I have nothing interesting to write about. School is keeping me super busy so I find myself not riding more and more often and I hate it. Obviously, school comes first, but I wish my ponies could be first instead. A friend and I were talking about how we should run away from school and just become horse trainers - riding horses all day. That is my dream job. But alas, I would like to make some semblance of money so hopefully once I graduate from school I will have enough time to fit some training in on the side. I have two big midterms tomorrow (ugh, why do they have to be on the same day??) so once those are over I can breathe a big sigh of relief and then once I get some other stuff out of the way, hopefully a late night pony ride will be in order and this weekend promises to be horse-y.

Missing my ponyface :(

Pretty pre-sunset clouds today

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hairy to Hairless Horse

Well I went ahead and completely clipped Tux! I think he looks nice and sleek now. He lost about a hundred pounds just by getting rid of all that hair :)

I got my new ceramic blades in the mail this morning so I figured I'd go for it.

Fancy new blades!

The finished product. Not my best job, but we got it done!

I loved finding his "invisible spots" that didn't show up when he had hair :)

He was such a good boy for the whole thing. Today was only his 4th time ever being clipped and I didn't even tie him up. Yesterday I didn't either and he even let me do his face without having to be tied. Such a good pony. He actually liked having his belly done. I saw his lip twitching and he kept trying to groom on me. He even scooched closer to me a couple times so I could get that "right" spot.

It's Jetta's turn next, I'll probably do her this weekend, but she's just getting a blanket clip. I just need to go shower because now I'm super itchy! I even ended up with hair inside my socks...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Beautiful Day

It was so gorgeous out today! Sunny and warm, it made it into the 70's even! I had a great, productive day. I went out to brunch with my parents and then headed out to the barn.

I rode Jetta first and we really nailed the canter transitions for the most part, but by the end she was getting all amped up for the transition so since she had already gotten the canter down, we did a lot of figure 8's and serpentines at the trot to get her to sloooow down and relax. She was really good. She had just come in from the pasture when I got their so she was all nice and relaxed and very well behaved.

Because it was so warm and obviously, it's hard work when you do things correctly, she got so sweaty even though I didn't ride for very long, so she got her first bath at the new barn and then we went and grazed out in the sunshine for a few minutes.

Sweaty pony worked extra hard today!

Not worried about being in the pony torture chamber...

Sunshine and green grass :) Almost feels like spring!
Tuxedo got a partial clip today, I just did a strip clip and I'm trying to decide whether or not to do a full body clip (minus the head and legs). I think he'd look better and feel better without all that thick hair, but it's just a lot of work! At least I got the hardest part done on his belly. Gives me a headache being upside down for so long :)

Half naked :)

I just had another short ride on Tux and he was also very good. He picked up both leads into the canter today right off the bat and was very smooth and calm. We changed it up down the centerline, doing halts at X or G or just walking or doing a leg yield at the trot. As much as I'd hate to change up such an obedient halt, he really is overenthusiastic about stopping so we need to iron that out a bit more. Counting down the days until I get to take him to his first dressage show!

Also, a nice surprise when I got to the barn today - they redid the boarder's tack room and it's so nice now! I have a whole wall now :] They put in more saddle racks, shelves and round bridle hangers instead of just the nails, plus a little dangly hanger thing that all my girths are on. I love it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Long Overdue Lesson

I had a lesson last night! First time with a new trainer, JB. The BO was planning on having her out to work with her horse because she can't ride due to surgery on her foot, and one other boarder was planning on taking a lesson so I joined in.

First lessons for me are never the best. I get super nervous for no reason. I don't have a whole lot of show nerves, which makes it funny that I have nerves for working with a new person. After the lesson I was kinda torn between really liking this trainer and just feeling kind of "meh" about it. I have a really hard time with trainers - I had two perfect ones back home but now I'm trying to find trainers I like at school where it's more expensive. I'm very independent and I'm cheap. I want it to be worth my while at the same time as not spending a fortune. Here's the overview:

My lesson was at 4:30 so of course I was all worried about getting there on time - I have class until 3:30 and it takes me a half hour to get to the barn. I got there a little after 4pm and there was still another horse in the arena so I quickly changed, groomed Jetta and tacked up. I had actually forgotten about my lesson until late the night before, so I was all bummed that I hadn't had time to clean my boots which had sweat stains and dirt on them. I try to be nicely turned out for my lessons, especially with a new trainer, so at least I remembered my boots and my breeches, I had my polo shirt tucked in and a belt as well as my gloves. By the time I was done getting ready it was 4:30pm. The lady in the arena was getting her saddle adjusted with pads so I thought they were just about done. Turns out they were just getting started.

I was fine to watch and it turned out to be an interesting horse. An arabian cross that was a rescue. He has lordosis (very swayed back, thus the saddle and pad adjustments) and the lady would like to show him in arabian sporthorse classes and get into doing dressage. Her horse does not like contact and roots on her. JB did some bending exercises first at a halt to get him to give to pressure and stay there until he got released. Also showed the rider her version of an emergency stop. Basically taking the rein all the way to the middle of the back to bend the horse around, thereby saying "I said stop". Interesting. She had her ride around just with the inside rein, asking for a little bit of bend and flexion at the poll. This way, with only one rein he couldn't get upset or worried about feeling confined by the contact. His other problem was that his shoulders didn't follow his head so turning was interesting. JB had her do serpentines where she'd change direction every time his shoulder fell out, thus making him really think about having to follow his head.

I made the mistake of holding my already tacked up Jetta while we watched the lesson. She stood pretty still and besides trying to knock the hose holder off the wall, eat my stool and chewing on my whip, she was rather well behaved, though I would have been much better off sticking her back in her stall. She does not do well just standing around. When it was my turn I got on and started to warm up. JB immediately picked up on my rounded shoulders (sigh...) and had my put my shoulders back and down and engage my core. She obviously knew her stuff because whenever I forgot, she'd remind me and immediately pick up on when I re-engaged my core. We got barely any warm-up time which was a pity because Jetta was very heavy in my hand and wanted to rush. None of the floatiness we got the day before and I know it was because of my nerves, so I was kind of disappointed in not being able to show off our best side. First we worked on slowing her down and making her engage her core as well, doing half halts in the trot and transitions between the walk and the trot, making her use her hiney, but at the same time staying slow. We moved to the canter and worked on the upward transition.

This is where it got tricky. I had a bit of a hard time visualizing what she was going for. She wanted me to open my inside rein instead of using it indirectly towards Jetta's withers so that I didn't shut down her hind end and ask her to "enlarge the circle" two steps out, then ask for the canter transition without doing Jetta's signature "leap!" into the canter. What she was going for (I think) was to weight the outside hind leg and get her to step under with her inside leg into the canter. The reality was that I lost her hindquarters completely. We struggled for that a little while until I modified it to more of a haunches in and it finally clicked and we had a great transition. Aaand then to the other direction it just wasn't there.

So lots to work on and I'm definitely still mulling over our ride and looking forward to going back out to the barn to ride Jetta and do some little modifications to what JB was teaching us.

Overall, I really liked JB as a person - she was talkative and hung around while I cooled Jetta out and untacked her, she loved on Tux and told me about her horses (she's training a Gypsy pony that's only 12 hands! How adorable, a mini-me of Tux!) I'm not quite sure of her training methods, she had some difficulty relaying her ideas to me and when she had me slow Jetta (way) down, I felt like we lost our impulsion and I was hanging on Jetta's mouth, yet she didn't correct me. I like to have improvements after lessons and there wasn't any of that after this lesson, however I think if we work on it, there will be improvement in the future. Our next lesson is November 14th - there may be some jumping in this one!