Issues & tension

I’ve been having problems with Ava for the last week. I need a lesson so badly! It’s so frustrating not being able to fix whatever is wrong. Bern, you’re going to be so pissed when I come back in October! We were going so well when we left the barn just a month ago. *sigh*

Until then, I have to find a way to fix this. Here’s what’s going on…. We walk out to the mowed area behind the house at 5:30-6:00. She’s fine on the walk out, leg yields softly both ways, calm, relaxed. We step into the mowed area and she turns into a board. She braces against the bit, doesn’t really listen to the seat, kicks out at the leg when I put it in, gets really tense. Walk back to the barn and she’s relaxed and calm, leg yields easily and softly.

She always goes out to pasture after our ride. I’m not sure if she’s in pain from the saddle, anxious about being turned free for the night, upset with the footing in the “arena”, or if I’m tensing and causing it. Too many possible issues at this point. But it’s driving me nuts and I know Ava isn’t enjoying our rides right now so I have to figure out what’s going on.

Any suggestions?

Oh… And blogspot has been buggy and won’t let me comment lately, so please be patient if I don’t reply.


I’m so sore today. I don’t know what happened yesterday, but both my husband and I have serious neck pain today. I know how he got his… I bounce his head like a basketball when I wake him in the mornings.  ha.

All I know is I got off Ava last night, and immediately my shoulder and neck started killing me. It’s been non-stop since. But whatever. Real Dressage riders Ride. 🙂

The ride tonight went okay. I couldn’t find my seat to save my life during the warm up. Flopping around like a wet sock up there. My poor pony!  I did finally get it together enough to center myself and we got down to some work, but it wasn’t anything eye popping or great.  We did work on our walk/canter transitions. I’ve dabbled with them a bit previously and they were horrendous. Terrible. It stressed Ava out and made her into a board that refused to relax. So I stowed that one in the closet until today.  I feel she’s got the muscle and balance that she can at least begin to work on those. I wasn’t asking for perfect, just a relaxed effort on her part.

Since Ava has her little quirk about legs behind the girth (it’s getting a little better), I’ve had to train her to canter by using my seat only. I’ve found this to be something I could not wrap my brain around – the mechanics of the seat motion without interfering or inhibiting her movement. What usually happens is I screw her up, but she’s a good girl and gives me a canter anyway (the saint). Not without a lot of head tossing and snarly looks though. 😉  Anyway, the other day I was reading a web site about teaching flying changes, and part of it was talking about the mechanics of the seat and aids when asking for the flying change. To paraphrase: the feeling is the same as if you were taking one big step forward (say your left leg) and brought your left arm up to shoulder level at the same time (before your foot started its journey toward the ground again). That feel in your hip, of going forward is similar to what the aid for the canter should be. So if you’re going left – it’d be your left hip; going right – your right hip.

I practiced the weird walk at home so that my neighbors could snicker and point at me (I like to keep them entertained). I tried it on Ava today, and it helped. She was less fussy, and more forward in the initial depart.  Practicing that also prevented me from tossing my upper body around, and keeping my body in alignment. The great news is we actually got several decent walk/canter – canter/walk transitions today!  So we stopped there and went for a short walk down the lane and then home for a full body scrubbing and a roll in the grass.


It was actually nice out on Wednesday! Yay! 

I tacked up Ava, who was very “UP”, and we jigged our way out to the field to practice. Man the horse flies were atrocious! Five of those suckers were bombing us on the ride through Pine Tree lane.

The warm up started out poorly with Ava doing her Friesian spook every other stride, interspersed with impatient trot strides.  I worked on leg yields and turn on the forehands and I was very happy with how she settled down to work.

So we’ve been practicing haunches in at the walk for a few weeks now, trying to get her to calmly accept my leg further behind the girth area. Some days are better than others, but overall she’s progressing.  On Wednesday I had decided it was time to work at it in the trot.  I bent her into the corner, got her nicely on the outside rein (going to the left) and gently slid that right leg back behind the girth… AND BAM! Haunches were wrapped around that inside leg like she was born to it.  I about dropped her I was so floored! And thrilled!

Needless to say, going to the right was not very good. I’m still having problems getting her to stay in that outside rein after I slide my left leg back. She’ll bend nicely into the corner, fills up the outside (left) rein, and the moment I slide my left leg back she hollows out and drops her inside shoulder.

That’s her weak side though, so I expect it to be somewhat less elegant. However, I think I really need to work on my seat and aids a little more at the walk going to the right so that I can help her stand up better.

On a side note… I was very nervous about riding Wednesday. It didn’t help that I’ve been watching The Best of Burghly Horse Trials (3 Day Eventing).  Some of those crashes are just terrifying! So my head was filled with bad horse crashes, broken collar bones, horses flipping, etc. Add in the fact that Ava was jumping and spooking at every little thing in the barn and outside before I climbed on her. I was really starting to rethink my desire to ride that evening. But I did anyway, and I was very glad I didn’t let my fear stop me. Ava’s a good mare. She’s a little excitable at times, but overall she’s very safe. I’m lucky to have such a good horse. 🙂

Costume Classes

I participated in my very first musical freestyle, anything goes, class in June this year. What a blast! It’s also not something I’d do again. It was so much work. And I about died from nerves before starting the test.

First I had to find music that fit Ava, and had some kind of theme to it. I spent hours combing through music and listening to different genre’s attempting to find something that would spark an idea for a costume. I finally settled on the “He’s a Pirate” theme simply because nothing else seemed do-able at the time. So then I went to work putting the costume togeter. I am not good at sewing. I don’t sew. I can barely get one pass through the fabric before the string is in knots and I’m gushing blood.

Every day I sewed, and I sewed. I sewed on my lunch break, I sewed after work. I sewed when I woke in the morning. Did I mention I will never do this again… 🙂  I made pirate boots out of fake leather, and lined them with padding, with little cut out toe’s for the boots that wold hang over Ava’s hooves.

I finally had to beg my mother to come help me finish the costume the day before the show. Thank you, Mom!!!

I still hadn’t a clue as to what pattern I was going to ride, or even how long it would take to enter at A and ride to X for the halt.  I was completely unprepared!

So the day of the show… we fit the costume on Ava. Strap her little boots on, and snug her vest on her. When my trainer suggests that maybe I should see how Ava will react to all this stuff before I head out of the barn. DOH! Why did I assume my mare would be hunky dory with strange things fluttering and bopping against her in weird places?!?!  Aaarrggghh..  I was going to die a painful death.

In light of this astonding logic (Sorry Bern), we decided to leave the head band off of Ava.  Like just the headband was going to be an issue. hahaha.

Amazingly, Ava did not care at all. She took one look at everything and puffed right up like she was Miss Super Star!  I love my horse!

My husband made us beads to go in Ava’s mane and forelock out of stryofoam balls that he painted and tied together with thick string. We banded it into Ava’s mane before the class. It looked Awesome! 
Finally we get Ava all dressed up and it’s time to enter the ring. I’m hyperventalating at this point. I can feel my heart in ears and my stomach is rolling. I still did not have any idea what to ride when!!  I was screwed!  haha

So I figured… As long as I don’t fall off, Ava doesn’t get hurt, and we make it out of the ring alive at the end, then we did OK in my book. It was for fun anyways. I just wanted to try it out. I mean, geesh, who doesn’t want to ride in a costume to music in front of dozens of people. HA. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Here’s “Captain Jack”:

Here’s Ava’s Costume (after our ride):




I wasn’t able to get the full test video taped. But you get the idea.

There were only two people in the class (including me), and I placed second. Ironically, I got a 70.something percent on it.