Sunday, November 30, 2014

Training: Spiraling to canter homework.

Today was warmer but definitely muddier! Still lovely though and the hubby came along to help take some video. So super nice of him.

Max was rockin today. Super quiet at the cross-ties. No drama in the indoor. Pretty much just did what he was fuss no muss. Love these kind of days ^.^

We pretty much practiced what we worked on with J yesterday. The spiraling is working great in our canter departs. Keeping this post short today as I'm pretty dead tired. Instead enjoy the pictures and video below!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Training: Right lead canter departs.

Got to the barn super early this morning and it was f-f-f-f-freezing!! It sure didn't feel like November...more like the middle of January. Time to stock up on more hand-warmers..

Max was incredibly well-behaved at the cross-ties. Actually he's been really good lately compared to how he was before. Perhaps he's just settling in and getting used to things. It's funny how I feel like I've had him for a long time as opposed to a few months. I need to remember that..

I told J about our problems in canter depart to the right so she had me work on my position right away. She had me get him forward and our diagonals coordinated. Then we did some spiral work in the trot - using the inside leg and outside reign for bend and steering. Something important she pointed out was that the inside leg must always be applied before outside reign so we are riding back to front. 

After spiraling inwards with a good bend, she had me spiral out and about part-way to the wall  ask for a canter depart. This way there were two things that helped greatly in fixing our canter departs. One, my position was stronger because my right seat bone and inside leg were already working with my outside reign. Two, he was bending and his outside leg was already actively stepping forward and out. He did do the rushy-rushy thing a couple of times, but she had me try again and finally we achieved a great canter depart. 

We alternated a lot between right and left so I could figure out what I was doing correct since our left leads were great. Going to the right I'm weaker and tend to slant forward instead of sitting back, keeping my legs steady and applying a strong seat bone.

Definitely found out why we were having trouble with the right lead canter departs, but it is not something that can be fixed in a couple of rides. Luckily we have allll winter of arena work to get into tip top shape for spring!!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Max is back!

Max is back in work! Our ride on Tuesday night was okay. He was sleepy and a little stiff so it took a little more warm-up before he was ready to go. We did a lot of the usual stuff - circles, serpentines, one-loops, leg yields.

Back to work..woopee doo.

Thanksgiving Thursday I decided to head on over there for a short ride. I was curious to see how my car would manage through the leftover northeaster snow we had from the day before. Thankfully she did my prius!

Max was a good boy on Thursday. Definitely more forward because of the extra nip in the air. The indoor arena had snow crashing off of it and besides a dead stop and a couple of jumps Max did great!

Today I was over there again (LOVE these long weekends!) and we had another fun ride. The arena was super packed today so it was a lot of focusing on my horse, and focusing on not crashing into someone else! On top of that more snow/ice was crashing off the roof. Max was a champ with that!

I am noticing though that he is especially stiff going to the right and is having a tougher time flexing and bending right. Our canter departs going right are starting to unravel too, and I find myself having to ask very strongly for a right lead canter, or I wouldn't be getting anything but a rushed trot!

Looking forward to my lesson tomorrow to see if J can find a solution for us there. Updates to come!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November's 10 Questions

Have you ever owned a horse?
I currently own Max and he is my first horse.

What is your favorite aspect of your discipline?
Building that subtle communication and connection with my horse. I feel it is gentle on the horse when done well correctly.

What pet peeves do you have concerning your discipline?

That black and white are the only acceptable colors. Also, no shiny sparkly stuff. Colors and sparkles don't affect technique and skill, so I don't see why there can't be more freedom with that.

Do you do barn chores?

Sometimes but not often. I try help out when I have time to.

What is your least favorite barn chore?

Pushing a huge wheelbarrow full of poop and dumping it in the manure pile.

What do you consider the worst vice in a horse?

Biting (hard) and rearing.

What saddle brand is your favorite?

I don't know :(

Do you ride with a quarter sheet in winter?

No, but it does sound comfy. I might this winter!

Does your horse wear boots? What kind?

Max wears black Centaur double Velcro boots in medium in his fronts and he has them on 24/7. He also has a pair of sparkly turquoise Professional's Choice Ballistic No-Turn in large for the days when he feels a little more showy ;)

Full seat or knee patch breeches?

For comfort I like the knee patch. But for maximum stickiness I like the full seat.

Training: After a week off..

The farrier finally came by Friday morning! Yay!!

He put new shoes on Max, as well as pads and other stuffs which names I cannot recall right now. Basically something to help with hoof growth, and something else to prevent thrush etc. in the pads.


He actually said his feet look great!!  I did a double take at my phone (he texted me). After months of hearing  how bad Max's feet are...finally...some progress!!  I teared up at my desk at work but disguised it with a yawn. Don't want folks to start thinking I've gone soft or something...

This morning I had a lesson. My trainer suggested I  lunge him first since he's had a week off, and really, we don't know him that well yet. He might be demon pony.

BLaargh!!! Me Burns you all!

My main concern when lunging him was to see if he was limpy. That was what I was worried about all week actually..that I had messed his foot up. Thankfully he was sounder than ever. He was ready to go though and super fresh. He went zooming around in a circle throwing in a couple of bucks. After about ten circles of zoom zoom he finally decided to be good and went into a nicely framed trot. In the background I could hear my trainer saying "Good thing we lunged him before you got on!"  I heartily agree!! 0.0

 The lesson went amazing. Max was forward and willing. He seemed genuinely happy to be back at work and tried extra hard. We worked on straightness today. When going left we tend to not have enough bend and going right we have too much. Some adjustments to my diagonals and we got him moving straighter. The goal is to be able to drop the inside reign, while keeping outside reign and inside leg contact, and still have him going in the same bend and direction. Lots and lots of homework to get even minutely close to that. Love it!

I purchased an Ultra Thinline Contour Dressage pad on ebay and tried it on today. I noticed it was comfier for me..but I don't know how Max felt about it. Not so many head tosses during warm-up, so maybe?

Looks like it's going to be warmer tomorrow!! Woohoo!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Hoof updates

The farrier is injured and unable to head over to put the shoe back on Max till Thursday. This means the poor guy is cooped up in his stall for four days. :( I headed over tonight and hand-walked him around the arena so he could at least stretch his legs and move around, after wrapping his foot up in a diaper and vet tape of course.

He was definitely sore. I felt so bad. He got lots and lots of hugs and kisses and treats but it still didn't help relieve the guilt I felt. His feet were doing so well..and now I may have messed them up again. When I applied keratex I noticed there were a couple of red-ish spots on his sole that looked like bruises. It didn't look pretty. I sure hope it's something that will go away once his shoe gets put back on.

The vet took a look at him yesterday and said he has to go through at least two cycles of shoeing without losing a shoe before we consider barefoot. I guess we'll revisit this in spring. His previous owner had him barefoot for a while and mentioned he never minded hoof boots. So looks like this could be a great option for him in the future!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Yet again...sigh

I don't usually crave pity parties but I kind of am today. We had a fun day riding around the arena going over small jumps, followed by a peaceful walk through the forest and down the road. Halfway along the road I realized Max lost a shoe...again. And it was on the trail...I found it embedded in some damp dirt.

I just cannot believe it. I've tried to do everything right..upgraded him to a stall, moved him to a sand paddock, put him in bar shoes, put him on farriers formula, keratex, farriers fix, no trail rides....wait...oops. Yeah. Stupid stupid stupid!

We did break that rule a couple of times before and his shoes were always on tight. It could be the fact that he's due in a week anyway, and that maybe he loosened the shoe on a rock hidden in the leaves. Whatever the case...farrier's coming in Tuesday probably fuming and saying I'm one of Those owners who would put their own fun before their horses well being. *hangs head in shame*

Maybe something good will come of it. I mentioned it to my BO who is big on barefoot and she put Max in for the vet to look at to evaluate if he could possibly make the transition over to barefoot. I've always hated the fact that he had nails hammered into his hooves...but the farrier is adamant that he needs the support. He's probably right...but that doesn't mean it's the only way.

We will just have to see!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Training: No stirrups!

I read somewhere ( I believe it was someone's blog..but I am sorry to say I have forgotten whose..) that November is No Stirrup month! I was bad the last two times and forgot...but today I did so much stirrup-less work I think it makes up for it!

Originally I had a private lesson with J but when I got there she asked if I'd like to join in a quadrille/group lesson where they'd be focusing on stirrup-less and seat work. Heck to the yeah I did!

We started the lesson off with the canter catch-up exercise in two-point - where we had to play catch-up with the horse behind us. Not having our seat, we had to get our horses moving forward, but still maintain bend with just legs and reigns (lots of inside leg into outside reign stuff). This was awesome..but I was huffing and puffing so badly by the end of it I had to take a break. Such an old lady.

Then we moved on to the no-stirrup work. J had us begin at the walk and stretch each leg away from the saddle individually. Really felt this in the hip! Then she had us point our toes towards our horses ears. My core and legs were dying!

After a couple of rounds we moved into a trot where she had us stretch our legs down, and roll our feet outside then inside. This is a real challenge for me because I naturally have duck feet.

Thankfully we moved on to one loops on the long side. This required so much focus..good position, quiet hands, and clear seat bone weighting. Max did wonderful after a couple of rounds and he wrapped nicely around my leg by the end.

Lastly we did canter circle counts (still stirrup-less!). I found that my position was better and more relaxed , which made him relaxed too. Maybe because I had to focus more on balancing that it was even more crucial to have a good position? Whatever the case our canter departs were nice, as well as our downward to trot. 

However, at the very end she had us put our stirrups back on, and boy did they feel short! My position fell apart, and the first two attempts at a canter depart were messy to say the least. Luckily J was there to talk us through it and we managed a good depart. We ended on a nice stretchy trot, lots and lots of hugs and treats!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Family Day!

Today my hubs joined me at the barn! He was so sweet and helped me set up jumps for Max, and he video-ed pretty much our entire ride. He even caught graceful moments on camera...LOL!


We did have some good moments though.

Then guess who hopped on for a ride!

Cowboy in the making.

Here's a position and timing isn't great, and there was a section where I had him on the wrong lead!! Oops!! But cool music and filters make it look so much better so I'm going to leave it at that and fix stuff on our next attempt.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Double Dan clinic.

Double Dan is giving a clinic at the horseman's guard and I couldn't pass it up! I SO wanted to participate in it with Max but the entry fee deterred me. It's $450 to participate, and only $20 to audit. However, after today I wish I had spent the extra $430 to be part of this clinic. Sigh...regrets...I have a few...

I headed over there after my quadrille lesson with a friend. When we got there he was finishing up the morning session and broke for lunch. So I grabbed a blanket and sat on a sunny hill top overlooking the lovely New England country-side. It was complete heaven sitting there, scarfing down my sandwich and chocolate milk,  and breathing in the clean crisp air.

*munch munch munch*

Perfect day.

The afternoon session was held outdoors. I'm going to share some exercises that he had the participants and their horses do. Before that though, here are some ridiculously cute pictures of him and his demo pony.

Two cuties ^.^

Exercise 1 - Hind quarter yield.
In this exercise he had everyone hold the lead rope really close, pretty much under the chin. Then he had them circle the horse around them, making sure that the horse was actually moving around them and not the other way around. He had them do it at the walk and the trot. It was pretty crazy how many of the horses protested this. There were a few that would run away from it, and even kick and rear. He had the owners work through those by continue pressure until they got over it and yielded. Of course, in the end they all did.

Exercise 2 - Side Pass.
The second step was having the horses facing the fence and getting them to side pass. If the horses hind end gets left behind he had the owner slow down their pace, but give pressure to the hind end with a crop to straighten out the horse. 

Exercise 3 - Backing up.
This was a straight forward one and pretty much all the participants and their horses did this with little trouble. There was a horse that would bite it's owner when she started to ask for a faster back up. He had her be prepared to give an elbow , fist or, whatever she needed to do to rebuff the bite. Also he pointed out that the reason he was biting was that she was in attack mode with her crop when asking him to back up. Once she eased up on that he did fine! Oh and he had them back them up by facing them, putting pressure on the halter, then nose, then legs accordingly, the goal being they would back up with just pressure on the halter.

Exercise 4 - Circling around with bend.
For this exercise the owners had to circle their horses around them on a longer line..pretty much lunging the horses. However they had to yield their hindquarters away and not drop their shoulders in to have lunging actually mean something. To get successful at this the horse first has to understand Exercise 1. And if at any point the horse starts looking outside the circle, or gets stiff , then it's advised to go back to Exercise 1 to reinforce the good habit. I really like this one because just lunging a horse around in a circle is really not helpful unless he is doing it right. And now I have a better idea of what right is.

Exercise 5 - Combining circling, side passing and hind end disengagement.
This one seemed a bit of a combination of everything. He had a name for it but I forget. It pretty much translates to a one reign stop under saddle. He had folks circle their horses, then with their bodies facing the shoulder move them sideways and out, before having their hind end swing around and disengage. I'm sure it was a lot more complicated than he made it look because pretty much everyone had problems with this. 

Exercise 6 - Circle to Fence.
In this final exercise he had the participants circle the horses near the fence. Then while circling, the participants had to step up all the way to the fence (almost to a point of leaning on it) and then half circle the horse to the fence. The horse had to be a bit of a distance away and if they were in the owners space they had to be backed up. Then he had them move the horse to the other side, step away from the fence and circle the horse around in them in the other direction. Rinse and repeat. He mentioned this is a helpful exercise to get a reluctant horse to load up into a trailer. He had them practice this with barrels as well - the barrels acted as a physical space barrier between owner and horse.

Barrels create a doorway.

After the clinic he hung out with us for another forty minutes to answer any questions which was super nice of him. I wish I had the energy to stick around for his night show but I was just too cold and tired. Sometimes the need for a hot shower and the couch over-rides everything else..even hot Aussie cowboys riding horses!

Training: Thursday bareback and Saturday quadrille - Max's FIRST quadrille!

Another combination post here...I've been so tired after getting back from the barn in the evenings I've been slacking with posts. I'll have another post covering a Double Dan clinic that I audited today!! So awesome! And he's quite the looker! ^.^ (sorry

Thursday was a pretty lazy day so I decided to free-lunge Max and do some bareback. It's funny how confused he gets every time I let him run around the arena at liberty. He won't move till I start encouraging him which I appreciate. Such a good boy.

After I let him run around for a bit I decided to brave some bareback. I think it went pretty well! I kept my balance most of the time, and we even tried some canter and trot to halt transitions.

Today I signed up for the quadrille lesson and the four of us had a blast doing different formations and canter circles. It's Max's first quadrille and he did very well. We were paired up with a large, ground-covering Friesian so it was a great learning experience getting him to match his gaits! The best part though was, during the canter circle the instructor had me push Max into a gallop then bring him back into a collected canter before trot. He was a 100% with me and did an amazing job as we smoothly shortened the canter. I couldn't ask for more awesomeness from him today.

The four of us ladies decided to abandon the arena for cool-down and head out on the trails. It's so much fun riding with other folks, and I'm lucky that pretty much everyone who rides there is super nice and drama-free.

On to the post about Double Dan!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Training: Relaxation.

Tonight I tried to focus on relaxation and getting Max to accept the bit without getting tense and throwing his head up. Gave him lots of forward and kept my hands soft, but firm on the outside reign.

He was so good and pretty much did everything I asked, so long as I asked correctly and nicely. To cap our ride, we practiced the new 2015 dressage test pattern. He did very well up till the canter depart to the right. Instead of departing nicely, he rushed into it, then tensed up. So we rode a few circles, getting him back down to a relaxed state. Preparing to ask again, I made sure there was firm contact on the outside, and asked loud and clear. What a lovely depart we had! Such a good boy!

No pictures, but I tried introducing him to his new jolly mega ball. Exactly what I expected - zero reaction. I bounced it around his legs, and bounced it off him and he didn't even blink. Sigh. There go our soccer games!

He was however, snuggling up to his jolly ball stall snack ball (there's a tongue-twister for ya), so hopefully he knows it's there to provide him some entertainment.

Lots of cuddles and hugs later, and a happy Max was tucked in all warm and cozy in his stall. Then a nice relaxing drive home in the dark, listening to cool tunes on the radio. Life is good!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November Doodle.

A stormy weekend.

A quick recap of Thursday's ride. After our amazing ride on Tuesday, I was in high hopes to recreate it on Thursday. It didn't go quite as smoothly however, which is okay. He was a bit stiff going to the right and we encountered some head tossing, especially in that direction. Even when I tried to put my foot down, he resisted. I knew at that point he was frustrated, so I eased up and gave him more warm-up time.

After he warmed up he was much better, and we worked on some circles through cones on the ground. At some point he felt soft and I could maneuver him nicely through the cones, even at canter. We ended our ride with some walks through the cones using only my seat and leg aids. It's pretty neat how responsive he is to those once he's all loosey-goosey.

I'm not a goose...I'm a hoss..

Saturday was rainy and pretty miserable. The indoor was packed with riders trying to get some riding in out of the rain. Despite the busy-ness, cold, and wet, Max did quite well. Same stiffness to the right like Thursday night so I need to keep an eye out for that.

On to today's ride. It was sunnier and drier...but boy was it windy. Actually that's too tame a word...more like bellow-y! When I got to the barn my wonderful trainer told me to lunge Max before hopping on because the indoor was super loud and scary. She wasn't kidding..luckily though he seemed quite relaxed and stayed with me very nicely on the lunge line. I hopped on and he was very good there too.

SO we were riding along..he was relaxed despite the noise. Then suddenly his neck came up, his ears pointed to the heavens, he ducked, did a half spin and jumped to the right. Holy moly..whaddya know...there was a terrifying patch of sunlight on the ground, ready to pounce! *rolls eyes* We worked through it and when he realized it was just sunlight, he went back to not freaking out. That horse! LOL!

The BO was so super nice and helped me hang up his new jolly ball stall snack! I hope it will help keep him entertained on the rainy cooped-up days!!

Treats? For me?

Nope...never mind.