Levi Update

Levi, the new horse, is doing well. He’s been here 4 weeks tomorrow.

So far I’m still working on installing steering and Go buttons. The steering has improved drastically over 4 weeks. I no longer fear we’ll go blasting out of the arena every turn.

Go button is still really sticky. Getting better. At least he’s stopped trying to bash in my face with his poll every time I ask for any forward movement.

He’s pretty fun to ride actually.

For the last 8ish years I’ve been skating through shows/clinics without washing a single horse. I wish to mourn the death of my care free show days now….

[mourning not having to bathe a horse]

I’d also like to point out that I have been long mane free for at least 2 years, and then this lug comes in with a long mane. It’s already tangled and knotted. Have I mentioned how much I hate long manes? Great for running braids, but a PITA every other day of the week. The second he’s paid off I’m whacking his mane off.

I started Levi over ground poles the past 2 weeks. Mainly because I’m bored of doing circles, but also because he has to pay attention to the ground and it seems to make him remove his head from my lap.

If his head gets any higher I’ll have to reclassify him as a giraffe.

….

I’m sitting in my riding pants, dinking on my phone. I really want to ride today, but I’m so exhausted. Bone weary exhausted. I feel like lead. So… here’s my shout out to all those AAs still getting out there, still riding, even when you’re exhausted. You’re my heroes, and I’ll try to be more like you.

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Dressage Lesson!

I have a dressage lesson Saturday!

I’ve been really struggling to find a dressage instructor near me who has ridden at a level higher than me, can teach it effectively, and I can access them without requiring a four hour haul.

Oh, and that aren’t over $100 per 45 minute lesson.

I learned about this trainer after attending one of the GMO hosted clinics in my area. I’d never heard of her before, so I was really delighted with how effective she was as an instructor with some really run-of-the-mill type horses.

Then I had the opportunity to see her teach again at an eventing barn.

I’m extremely hopeful that she’ll be able to help Joy and I fill in the holes in our training.

So that’s my big news this week.

I already signed up for second lesson with her the beginning of July.

I’m a little nervous about it.  Every instructor is unique in how they approach things. Sometimes their approach conflicts with the ways I was taught previously.  This isn’t usually an issue if the instructor is knowledgeable enough to convey why the change is needed, or what it will improve, but I find I’m resistant to change if the “why” for why it should change isn’t clear.

I have a hard time blindly trusting people the way you need to trust your trainer.

But I’m hopeful about this trainer/instructor. She seems to know her stuff, she’s ridden through PSG, her scores match up with what she’s claimed, and it appears she’s taken horses from training level up through PSG.

So, I’m hopeful. And it feels really good to be “hopeful” again.

The joy of being an AA

Work has been killing me. 50 to 70 hour weeks for over a month. I am exhausted. Burnt out.

I also don’t get anything for all this overtime. No overtime pay, no extra time off..

I can’t even reap extra money for all this hard work. *sigh* No new brushing boots for Joy again this year.

My first show is a week away. I’m not sure what to expect.

I’m still struggling every ride with either making her too hot and tense, yet better balanced, or supple and relaxed, yet horribly on her forehand. I can’t seem to get balanced, supple, forward, and relaxed all in one ride.

We have some fabulous moments though.

Our lengthen canter (aka go fast) elludes me, but we have a very nice downward transition. She engages well under herself. It’s quite neat to feel. There’s not much length of back on a pony so you really feel the back coil and the haunches come under.

Our lengthen trot has gotten a wee bit better. More lengthen in the stride. However, we can’t hold it long. Not long enough even for a short diagonal.

You know what’s really improved? We can do simple transistions down the quarter line like nobody’s business. Not exactly a staple of dressage tests though. Super fun to ride though! Weeee!!!

Anyway, I just don’t know how this whole show will go. We’re not really ready for First Level Test 3. We’ve got the canter loops and leg yields, but no real lengthens. I can’t get a stretchy trot at all if she gets tense. It’s so easy to accidentally make her tense, and so hard to relax her again.

Since this will be her first time off property in 2 years, and only the second show she’s ever been to, I’m not expecting it to go all that well…

But… I’m hoping to take her to a few more shows this year, and I think she’ll get used to it pretty fast. She’s always had a really fantastic brain on her. Adapts well. Maybe the second show we can show off our training a bit better, or the third. We’ll see.

Riding in the Wild Outdoors

I hopped on Joy last night for some work, but I was a bit nervous about how it would go. It was windy (which I hate), and I could hear someone cutting down trees across the street. I thought I’d try and ride anyway, and see how it went.

Joy was fine with it. During one of our trot/halt transitions I look up and there’s a guy in one of those buckets in the air, not more than 100 feet away from, us cutting down trees over the road. I’m pretty sure that should scare a horse, but Joy didn’t seem to care so I ignored it.

We were working on left bend at the trot when the neighbor’s Bobcat came down their path which butts up to my barn. I look over and see Polar (my 7 month old puppy) absolutely hysterical with fright. I had hooked him up to a post on a cable while I rode so that he wouldn’t get trampled on, and I saw him run and hit the end of the line in an effort to escape the evil machine that was rumbling nearby. He couldn’t see the Bobcat through the trees, but it was very close and very loud, and he was very scared.

So I hopped off Joy and dragged her over to the puppy to try to calm him down. It took a while because the evil machine wouldn’t leave and kept making hideous noises directly behind the treeline.

Joy was just standing there, bored.

I finally got the puppy settled down after the machine left, and went to hop back on Joy…

So far nothing had bothered her.

I was just about to swing a leg over, when Joy tensed and stared hard at the dirt path to the road. There, standing in the path, was a deer.

Deer she sees every single day.

I walked her over to the path to get closer to the deer and chase them off. Two of the deer went running, but the third just stood there staring at us. I made loud noises to try to scare it off, but it wouldn’t move.

It was unnerving me!!

I turned Joy around and headed back to the arena… except, when I looked back i swear the deer was closer than it had been!

And THAT’S what caused me to finally throw in the towel and put Joy up for the night.

A stupid deer scared ME! hahaha

Seriously, it was freaky. 😰😧

Who Rode My Pony?!

I swear someone snuck in and trained my pony while I was gone. I don’t know who, but when I find out….

5-53

I came home after a week away to a pony that canters.

AND I can steer at the canter.

AND she’s picking up the correct leads with correct bend both ways (most times)!

It was…. weird.

Happy! But, weird….

She cantered so well, that we actually tried our very first simple change of lead. It was awful, but we trotted when I asked, turned, and she tried really, really hard to offer up the new lead.

Overall, I was thrilled!

I had dreamed of this day! I thought it would never happen!

We have a CANTER!! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The rider relief is evident…. hahahaha

I think I may have even cried a bit…..

…………

Trot work was O.K. Not great. Not terrible. I need a bigger area to work on getting her connected.

We’re always turning. I tried pushing her forward, and she kept breaking to canter. I think I need a long, straight track to trot her on for awhile.

I love this pony’s walk. 🙂

Photo Bombed!!

I set up two ground poles to trot over. Joy apparently thought we were doing a different discipline instead.

She caught me off guard and I bumped her mouth. 😦

Our haunches-in is getting better!

And more jumping!

I just want to mention that we’ve been doing trot poles for over a year with no issues, but today… these were jumps! Haha

I’m really looking forward to starting lessons in another month or so.  I think the trainer can fix up my riding so Joy can do her job better.  And then, maybe, I can start thinking about entering a schooling show later this year (fingers crossed).

5 minute training video of ride:

Pam Goodrich Clinic – What I Learned Riding

I’m not sure how to condense what I learned from the Pam Goodrich clinic last weekend. In blurb format it’s all the same rhetoric dressage riders always hear, but in practice it was really deep and complex. Part of it was learning a new feel.  The bigger part was understanding the mechanics of why the horse moved the way it moved, how riders attempt to fix the issue, and how the problem should really be fixed.

Gosh, I honestly don’t know how to explain what I learned yet… I’m still processing it all. I think the biggest thing, the most important thing, is that when the horse is heavy, stuck, leaning on one or both reins, it’s a body issue. It’s not a mouth issue. And you can’t really fix the problem by fixing the mouth. That’s the main thing I took away from the clinic. We all know this (it’s the body not the head), but now we’re getting down to where the horse is bracing, how to fix that, and how to re-develop the horse so that both sides of the body are equally limber and strong.

Watch the video (here or below).

I tired to condense the video of the second lesson down to just the main parts where I felt something valuable was shown or talked about. Hopefully you can hear it okay. I’ll work on condensing the first lesson down to a more watchable video when I have time. Otherwise, you can watch the full unedited version of Day 1 at http://youtu.be/iSDVEIzXXYU

I’ll write more later. I’m still recovering from the clinic. That was grueling!

Side note: I went out to see Ava Tuesday and she glared at me when I went to put her halter on. I think she’s a little sore too (poor girl). I had gone out to feed her some apples and check that she was okay after such a vigorous weekend.  Ava seemed happier after the apples and grazing.