Monday, March 19, 2018

Welp, Nevermind

Welllll... we didn't make it into the show yesterday. Apparently they had a TON of entries for the show, so I didn't make the cut. I was extremely bummed since I was getting really excited for it, but I think it's for the better. I get to save my money and wait for a league show so I get points. And I got to focus on finals instead of stressing about the show too and everything I needed to do to get ready (clean tack, organize trailer, bathe Jetta, etc.)

Our last two rides were WONDERFUL and then we had two awful ones. After two relaxed rides with lots of stretchy trots, I wanted to work on lateral work again. Jetta warmed up really nicely, then went downhill once we started the lateral work. She just gets more and more amped and then I get a shorter rein and she gets more and more "up"and it snowballs.

When we went to canter she launched into it with barely a cue, she was being super sensitive to my aids, so I tried to school it a little bit and she just got more anxious. We ended up dropping back to the trot and doing lots of figure 8's and serpentines, trying to get her listening, not heavy, not overreacting to my leg, etc.

It ended up being a pretty long ride and while I think we did accomplish things, it was frustrating. So probably another reason that it's good we didn't make it into the show.

Then I rode on Sunday and they were scraping the driveway, trying to get rid of some of the potholes and while Jetta doesn't actually care, when we got into the arena and couldn't see the tractor she was VERY CONCERNED and there was much prancing and general obnoxiousness so I got off and lunged her and she ran until she decided she was done and then we had a lovely but short ride.

Now it looks like our first show will either be mid-April with an indoor eventing show (just jumping, no dressage) or a dressage league show at the end of April. We will see! I'd like to know my exam schedule before signing up, but I also don't want to miss out again by entering at the last minute. So we'll see.

Here's our updated list of things we need to work on:

Training Level
Canter - reasonable speed, not on forehand, on the bit
           Better, but we need to work on not launching into the canter
Canter-trot transition
           Better, but still needs improvement
Stretchy trot circle
           Much better!

First Level
Fine-tune our leg yield
         It's going really well!
Lengthened trot and canter
         We've been working a little on the lengthened trot, but haven't touched the canter yet

Second Level
Travers - working on this, it's still ugly but has its good moments
Canter-walk transition - HA. hahahaha
Canter loop/counter canter - started our canter loops and they are not as bad as I was expecting
Sitting trot - sometimes we can do this other times we are too discombobulated

To apologize for the lack of photos, I'll be posting a baby update soon! I promise that one will have photos :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Well, I finally sent in our entry for the show yesterday. I waffled back and forth but finally bit the bullet. It gives me motivation to work with Jetta and it will be a good opportunity to dip our toes back into showing. It just might not be pretty, lol.

Jetta continues to improve for the most part though! I finally switched her bit back to her usual Myler since the Herm Sprenger she likes isn't show legal. The HS is a mullen mouth with a port and the port is just barely too big. She just goes SO well in it. I think we're on our 4th ride in the Myler and while she isn't very pleased and we're definitely not going to get many points on acceptance of the bit, at the very least she actually listens to my half halts now!

Yesterday I feel like we definitely had a bit of a breakthrough. I went into our ride wanting to focus on relaxation. She tends to get wound up more and more the more transitions and lateral work you ask her for. So we warmed up with lots of walking, just focusing on her getting soft on the bit, accepting my leg, being bendy, etc.

Once we moved into the trot I worked on letting her stretch out and down. She LOVES stretching, the only problem is that she uses it as an excuse to either run away with me, get super on her forehand, or just generally become a freight train. So every time she got too fast, I half halted her. If she didn't listen to my half halt then I stopped her. If she just trotted nicely she got to stretch as much as she wanted. We did lots of serpentines and figure eights to keep her little walnut brain engaged, the changing direction also helped her not anticipate the canter when I used my leg to turn.

Once she got really soft and not heavy on the forehand, I asked for a canter. I mainly focused on getting her to accept my outside rein at the canter and not brace. Otherwise I didn't worry about where her head was at and she did a good job of not being too speedy.

Canter-trot downward transitions are still not very good, but at least we can do them at this point. They still aren't very accurate and she gets heavy and fast in the trot, but I'm able to bring her back to a reasonable speed in a handful of strides. So not ideal, but we're working on it.

Getting back to that pre-baby bod

We even managed to do a little bit of lengthened trot work! I'm not super happy with it, but it's a start. She didn't anticipate, she let me regulate the speed and came back to whatever speed/gait I asked afterwards without bracing. 

I think the break through was letting Jetta have a little bit longer neck without getting faster. She realized that if I half halt her and she doesn't get fast, I will let her have a bit longer neck, thus we get a nicer trot instead of a short, tight neck with a quick trot. It felt much improved, so hopefully it sticks!

Starting to enjoy our rides again!

Today definitely felt better. She definitely remembered that she got to stretch if she listened to my half halts. We can't always warm up like this because she gets rude about wanting to stretch down, but I'll take the progress!

I also forgot that I didn't post about our trail ride the other day! We had a pretty slow week coming up in school so a fellow horsey vet student came out to my barn to go ride the trails with me. It was super fun - she has THE CUTEST little QH mare named Remy. She's only 3 but she was awesome the entire time and I am seriously going to steal her. Her conformation is to DIE for, she looks and moves like a miniature warmblood in a little cutting horse package. She is super fancy. It was nice to get out and about with a friend!

In random school related notes... I did my first surgery on a sheep! An abomasopexy to be exact. It actually went super smoothly and our ram recovered perfectly. I was nervous and there weren't the best guidelines provided on how to perform it, but it turned out great!

I'm on the left. I have a unicorn surgery cap, obviously
And my office is coming along and getting cozier for the endless hours I spend in here!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

WW: Actually Thursday

This was supposed to post yesterday, but I messed up the scheduled timing so... it gets posted today?

Yesterday was the 5 year anniversary of Grady being euthanized. I still miss him so much, he was just so special. It was especially a sad day just because I always envisioned him raising my first baby horse for me. He was going to be the perfect baby sitter. The horse that my foal would learn to pony off of, have for company during weaning, and show the ropes of life.

So it seems extra sad that yesterday I was thinking of him and playing with my first baby horse. Wishing that he was here extra hard.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Show Ready?

We are getting to just over 2 weeks out from our first show in forever and it's... going ok.

Jetta has some really great moments and some really terrible ones. I'm almost 100% sure that the terrible moments are just because she's not physically fit enough to carry herself the way I'm asking, but it's still a little frustrating.

"What do you mean I'm frustrating? NEVER"

Our last ride, Jetta warmed up BEAUTIFULLY. We were doing shoulders-in and haunches-in, leg-yields, 10 meter circles, etc. at the trot. It felt great.

And then we cantered and it was all downhill from there. Jetta feels very on her forehand in the canter and combined with the fact that she is fast and near unresponsive to my half-halts, it's close to being out of control. I tried working through it in a variety of ways - just getting into a half-seat and letting her just do her thing, asking for shoulder-in at the canter (BAD IDEA apparently), and finally just half-halting her until she responded and not care about where her head was at (basically in my lap).  Unfortunately she's such a hot, sensitive, anticipatory horse that we can't just school the canter over and over again until she gets over it because it would make it worse, not better.

Only good thing about my day - outfit on point

It was a rough ride and left me feeling a bit discouraged and unsure if I should attempt to show her. Is two weeks enough time to school the canter and get it to a manageable gait?

We've got quite a bit to work on, so just for my sanity, I thought I'd make a list of what we need right now.

Training Level
Canter - reasonable speed, not on forehand, on the bit
Canter-trot transition
Stretchy trot circle

First Level
Fine-tune our leg yield
Lengthened trot and canter

Second Level - obviously this is farther down the road, not in our immediate future!

Canter-walk transition
Canter loop/counter canter

This is a bit of a downer post, so I'll focus on what is good. Her shoulder-in at the trot is fantastic right now! Her leg yield is also really pretty good, we just need to work on a little more straightness and I need to not block her forward motion. Our trot work is going really well, she's getting a lot better about maintaining speed and not pulling on me. Our trot-halt and trot-walk transitions are really good right now too. Our 10 meter circles (both full circles and the two half-circles) are feeling phenomenal, as are our 15 meter canter circles (when we're not careening around like a baby racehorse).

Random picture from doing morning barn chores

I feel like we're definitely on the right track, but the going has been slow. This is usual for Jetta, she takes a long time to get back to where we were after a break, and I feel like I've approached the "retraining" well. I have a tendency to want to school the "fun" stuff that we've done before, even though she's not necessary ready and it usually results in having to unteach her that move until we're ready for it, since she'll use it as an evasion for what I actually want her to do. Example: if we work on lengthened trot, when we try to go across the diagonal and I don't ask for the lengthened trot, she charges into it, then gets upset when I half-halt her to get her back to a working trot.

We'll keep chugging along, and luckily I still have 12 days to decide on the show. I really want to go, but we'll see if we are actually ready in time!

In other news, I finally replaced her super worn out show bridle
Notice her creeper neighbor

And I got to put this browband on that's been waiting for a bridle!