Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Event horses spook at NOTHING!"

I put this on facebook because I was so amazingly impressed with the intensity of this jump. It made me nervous just looking at it. The jump was part of the showjumping course at the Rebecca Farm CCI*** Event last week.

My comment on it was "That's an intense jump. I wonder how many horses made to spook at it?"

And I got the clear response "Event horses spook at NOTHING!"

Oops.... I forgot, because I know my wussy dressage horse certainly would relieve herself and then run in the other direction. I probably would let her. That's a crazy jump. Only insane people would jump that. But I've always felt that most eventers were probably somewhat insane. Which makes us dressage riders sane, because we like to stay on the ground and look pretty... because our horses are wusses ;)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Polo, polo, polo

Geeked out when I saw this big banner in the window (I think I might ask the store if I can have it when they're done with it haha!) This is why I like RL. What other brand uses the best group of sports in the world to advertise their stuff? All they need now is a dressage rider up front and I'll be happy. And if they can't find one.... I'm here!

I would actually love to have a job there.... too bad I also want to ride three horses AND have all college-level classes my Senior year. Go me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Can you handle the PICTURES???

These are all from Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Enjoy!

Okay, so I will give y'all a guided commentary through all of this :)

We warmed up going over the cavalettis (I spaced them wrong, really, so it didn't work out AT ALL at the trot, but I couldn't tell at the walk. I was supposed to have them 2 1/2 ft apart and i probably had them a little over a 1 1/2 apart. Yikes!)

Showing off her BIG walk. Love it.

"I can track up, muther. DID YOU SEE ME?"

Picking up rein contact. I realized after watching the video that my hands were not as still as they could be. She's still getting the idea of coming into my contact nicely, and I need to ask a bit more than what I did. But the good thing about vids is that you can see what you need to work on!

It was like this for much of the ride. Oh well, much better than what it could have been!

Doing a lot of bending in circles and little serpentines really helped to soften her, as seen here.

Leg yield. C'mon Greta, you can do better than that!

HOLY COW! I got a prompt, square halt out of her. Much praise followed.

Not a square halt, but her jaw totally softened. Good girl!

I must've asked for something right for a few strides, because I suddenly got this :)

Trotting :)

While she's not round, her poll is soft and she stepping under herself a LOT more. Once again, circles do wonders.

At the walk on a small circle, stepping underneath herself beautifully :)

I had to hand trot her over the cavalettis because we had issues under saddle (she stumbled all over them). Once again, it wasn't until I stepped back and looked at them that I realized that they were WAY too close!

In the end, it was fair to just introduce her to one pole. It helped a lot. Before the pole....

Over the pole.....

After the pole. PRETTY!!! Lots of praise :)

And some Odin Pony Monster Pictures.....

No, we are NOT dragging Breanna over to the grass outside of the arena. Okay, thank you!

He makes me actually look like a decent rider LOL!

Life is more juicy with Greta

So everyone's horse has quirks. That's a given. And some of them you don't even discover or can quite nail unless somebody else is kind enough to point it out for you (and then a lot of other quirks make sense then!) As for Greta Golightly:

  1. When the girl is heat, like "must have baby now" heat, she gets bossy and turns into an absolute female canine (well, a lot of girls can relate to this, now can't they?) That's fine until she's doing little things like walking a few steps ahead and few paces faster then you on the ground, and not wanting to stand still at the cross ties. Those little things can lead into dragging and freaking out, and let's not even THINK about under saddle. I have learned to nip things in the bud. I found that the silver bullet to keep my sweet, demure girl from turning into a hormone-driven beast is to simply make her stop if she starts to do those little things I mentioned earlier. I make her back up. Then I make her stand still again. Then I go from quite serious to "OMG Good girlie goo!" and continue on. Usually it just takes once and Greta comes back from Divaland. But I can't help but laugh it off, because it's just funny in a way.
  2. Greta gets very bored. Very quickly. She's great just standing and waiting at the cross ties and when I'm holding her and talking to some one she can occupy herself for quite some time (but when she wants the attention on her again she yawn and make the craziest faces because she KNOWS it gets everyone's attention). But under saddle, it's constant circles and serpentines and transitions and flexing and tracking up because we can't go but for a few strides on a straight line before her ears flick forward or just listen around to anything BUT me, and then she will counterflex and jut see what's going on outside, and then she'll swoly lose the impulsion in her stride and basically go, "Mmm, I'm bored. Whatever....". The instant she shows any sign of losing focus we do a little circle or something and she's like "Oh! You're still there. Because I'm still here. Because I wasn't, like, not paying attention to you or anything!" It definitely makes rides very interesting.
  3. She likes to make sure I'm completely devoted to her. She loves the mare stalled next to her, until I come around. Then poor Tila Tequila (who I will also be riding a few days a week soon) get a big, nasty "I HATE YOU! This human is MINE!" look from Greta. Greta will walk over to her and rub that look in Tequila's face, and then come back to me and put on her "I'm your FAVORITE LITTLE ANGEL, right, mother-dearest?" Yeah, because I'm blind, Greta LOL. And that's only one of the many loyalty-tests she'll try on me. My little devil woman :)
Like I have said before: life is much more juicy with Greta.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Pony Monster and updates on Greta Golightly

Greta is The Fame Monster (she told me to tell Lady Gaga to BACK OFF because The Fame Monster has ALWAYS been Greta's title, and she told me to tell Juicy Couture to back off of Her Royal Juicyness as well, because that has also always been Greta's title, along with many other that are quite originally her's.... or so she likes to think heehee) but this guy....

This guy is THE PONY MONSTER! I don't know, it just sounds cute. We also call him The Beast (he's like 16.2 hands, maybe 16.3... he's a big jump from 15.3 Greta... of course I'm 5'10" so it's all good)

Don't be fooled by his big body and flowy (but braided up on the other side in this picture) mane and tail and big hooves and Friesian resemblence... the boy is like a big puppy. It's been a while since I've been in great contact with a goofy gelding personality, being that I am so used to Greta Girl and her sweet and charming but still mare-ish behavior (and let me tell you I adore it, I really can't get enough of it, it makes life more fun!) but it's nothing I don't mind. It is cute... up to a certain point :)

But I do like Odin. He is the other English (and Western) trainer's horse, and he is a great learning experience because his dressage training is much more fresher than Greta's, so I can get a feel of what things are supposed to feel like, plus his owner (let's call her L) is kind enough to give me little tidbits while I'm riding him that I can apply to Greta. It really is a great situation and a big confidence boost that a fourth-level rider feels confident enough to let me (a humble training level rider haha!) ride Odin almost every day of the week.

Odin is a 7-year-old Morgan/Shire cross gelding (but he always gets "Are you a FRIESIAN???" from many of the boarders, and would you believe that there is ONE other horse out there who IS a Friesian and his ALSO named Odin.... fantastic... but I don't get them confused, because Odin is distinctively Odin.)

As for Greta, THINGS ARE MOVING ALONG!!! I've been getting some very good help from boarders and instructors in my DIY quest and today was just amazing! It was really only walking and trotting, but I did get her to pick up a canter from the walk! It wasn't beautiful, but it was there, and there was maybe a stride of trot (it didn't even feel like a whole stride) before she picked up the canter. She got it!

She also had a lovely canter-trot transition (from the two times I did canter her, once in each direction, but the nice one only happened once, oh well!) in which I'm starting to get the feel of timing my aids to Greta's footfalls, which helps tremendously in getting her to bend around my leg and step under herself more and in things like leg yields. The same technique is supposed to be used for walk/canter transitions, so I thought I'd mess around with it, rewarding her even if she picked up a trot or a faster walk, at least she moved off my leg right? But I read that it's supposed to be easier to mess around with earlier in the game rather than later, so... yeah, I tried it :)

Also, I have started her over cavaletti (but shame on me I got so focused today that by the time I was out of focus, it had been almost and hour and a half and I didn't want to throw something new at her when she was already tired) and I want to continue that because it help build her topline, which now that we're doing things right, I realized she does have a topline along her crest, but as far the muscles that suspend the neck and back... they're non-existent. Yeah, we need to fix that :)

Also, I'm going to learn how to use side-reins.

And I'm setting up a weekly schedule, which when finalized, will be posted :)

And Greta has decided that she's going to be a rough and tumble kind of girl now, so she's been getting into bar fights out in the pasture. A kick mark here and there is nothing to worry about, but when she gets them in inconvenient places (like just below her V.O. and rectum where it's just a small blip of raw flesh in bacteria central that can get infected so easily!!!) that's when it sucks. She also got a ugly-looking cut right behind her chin at the very bottom of her jawbone, but when palpated I realized it wasn't swollen nor was it deep at all. It just looked bad. But I definitely keeping and eye on both wounds, and both get scrubbed out with Betadine scrub before and after a ride to make sure no sweat gets in the wound and they stay clean, and then some antiseptic Privasan ointment over them to keep stuff out. Neither of them caused her any discomfort when she moved or ate or when they were touched even lightly, so I'm sure they just look worse than what they really are. Like a skin knee or a busted chin. Ouch.

So far, they look like they'll be fine, but if anything starts to look swollen or infected, the vet will be able to but dinner for a night because they will be making a housecall! Jeez, Greta!

But anyway, maybe video tomorrow. I will see!

Greta Golightly, aka Her Royal Juicyness The Fame Monster, says Thanks for waiting on us my lovely little subjects!

I suppose if Lady Gogo's followers are called her Little Maresters, and Lady Gaga's are her Little Monsters, then Greta's will be her little..... her Little Gretsters? I don't know, I kind of like y'all being called her Little Subjects, because I know I feel like one sometimes hahaha! (More on that next post!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Check out her music :)

I will have more Greta stuff up soon. It is really more meaningful (and entertaining haha) to put video of us riding up, so when we get a little further along in our training then I will show y'all. But until then, check this out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cuddle day!

Firstly, thanks to everyone about the last post. I woke up this morning and I was in a much better mood and was ready to take on the day! I didn't ride, but I still went out. Greta had a thorough grooming session (wait, she gets one of those every day................) and she had her 11:00 nap (I've noticed she's pretty consistent about nap time haha! And she still took a half hour nap with the tractor putting shavings in stalls and people chattering and riding in the arena and Cody the Awesome and Friendly and Nicely Built Stud neighing at every horse that walked by haha!) and then I gave her a little face massage while I was grooming. She propped her chin on my shoulder and her eyes went half-mass. Her head is really heavy btw.... but if Greta wants it, she usually gets it lol.

Odin's owner and I both agreed to give the Beast (he's a HUGE Shire/Morgan cross but an absolute baby and sweetheart) a day off so he wouldn't be a pill for lessons Sunday because I would ride him tomorrow and get him back and gear for Sunday.

And the Barn Manager let me go for a very quick spin on the new lesson horse Tequila... who is just absolutely push-button. I had not Western since I was 10 (of course she was properly trained to go off the leg and seat and was so light and supple and stepped underneath her so nicely and have wonderful self-carriage with zero rein contact, and did I mention she was very easy going about everything.... perfect lesson horse, and honestly I think she'd rock dressage if given a chance) and she made me look good haha!

I talked with Odin's owner (she has trained up to Fourth Level) and we got into a wonderful discussion about dressage. I asked her if how I had been working with Odin (as I have been doing the same techniques with Greta, lots of loose rein and transitions) was okay. She said that we are starting perfectly and the fact that I'm not worried about a headset is perfect. So I got a uncalled confidence boost haha.

Tomorrow I will get back with the plan with Greta, no rushing haha, and do lots of transitions and circles and serpentines and leg yields and a few turns on the forehand and a few rein backs (the last two have been iffy lately, so I don't want to push anything, but we do know it!) all on a fairly loose rein. Same program with Mister Odin, although he still quite a newbie compared to Greta. Odin's owner and I both talked about more having to be a rider learning rather than a rider teaching the horse. Her fourth level horse was actually a Grand Prix level Arab cross in which she had to learn the ropes rather! It really is the same situation with Greta and I: I'm the one learning the ropes. We will still work on flexibility and what-not (also, I'm going to take a looky-loo at my saddle, I think I put it too far up, it has CAIR panels and an adjustable gullet, so those problems should be quite simple to fix) and I have great hope for the future!

I'm very happy right now :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rome wasn't built in a day....


Maybe if I repeat that enough times I will get it in my head? Just because we have one good day doesn't mean we'll be done the next.

I'm rushing her, but nothing seems to be happening at the walk phase, and I'm impatient, and I know she can do much better. I just have no idea how to ask. Which makes me terribly happy, note the sarcasm ;)

I really cannot seem to figure out how to engage Greta's haunches, or to get her to bend anywhere off my leg. She'll go forward off my leg, she'll do a lovely leg yield off my leg, but no bend. She'll just keep her body straight and just slightly counterflex... it's hard to describe. We have little improvement at the walk. She'll track up but beyond that she just inverts her neck when I pick up contact, whether we do it on a circle or serpentine or on the ceiling haha.... so we start over again..... and again and again and again..... she definitely does not have a nice trot under saddle like I know she can, because I have seen her do it on the longe line and out at pasture (my what a floaty trot she can have!) a gazillion times. I have a bruise (first saddle bruise ever I think) on my left leg just above my ankle where I was pushing into the girth to just try and get a smidgen of bending. I put my outside leg just behind the girth, but that's just because I know I'm supposed to do that, I can't seem to use the technique to it's full or appropriate advantage. And forget the outside rein: she takes it quite literally still.

So I was frustrated with today's ride, as you can tell.

However, our halts are almost spot-on (she doesn't halt with her haunches engaged all of the time, but she does halt when asked without a tug of war with the reins) and she'll shorten and extend her walk no problem with just my seat and legs. She'll go forward off my leg. So we are making progress.... but it's sooooo slow DX

I am just.... frustrated. I must remember that it is only day 6 of what will probably be several months, and after that a few years before we might even think about first level, but it's just no fun anymore. It's getting tedious. It's feeling like dressage.

I must not rush. But Lord, if only things didn't have to be at such a sluggish pace! Because I know she can do it, and I know can do it, I just don't know how to do it!

I feel almost like I have to do this on my own for some reason. But I am going to ask for help. And the books can't tell me everything and replace a hands-on instruction. I don't want to give up an go back to lessons because we are quite behind the other riders, at least I am, Greta is probably way ahead of things haha, and I feel the need to slow things down and actually get these basics and understand how to utilize them.

So yeah, riding feels like an absolute fail right now.

But off the saddle, things are amazing. Like, you have no idea.

Greta will follow me everywhere I go, no lead, through the arena or pasture or the barn aisles. She'll come when called, or at least perk her ears at me! She will stand in the grooming stall without any cross ties or even a halter. She loves her ear massages and neck massages and eye rubs and thorough groomings and apples. She is so sweet and lovable and intelligent and gorgeous and perfect and everything I had always dreamed of since I first envisioned a horse my own as a little girl trucking around on lesson ponies. She is the perfect horse.

I'm just not the rider I thought I was, and it is quite frustrating, don't get me wrong. I know I have to work through it and get my confidence back up because this is making me feel quite incompetent. We do fun things like gallops in the pasture and hacks around the yard almost daily, and I know how to work her past scary objects and what-not, but then we get in the schooling arena and I just go "Oh crap, I don't know what the HECK I am doing! How do I do this? How do I ask? I thought I asked right, but I obviously didn't because I'm not getting the right response."

I want to learn how to communicate with dressage. I want to learn how to become a better athlete and how to help Greta become a better and more beautiful athlete. I'm just impatient and slightly confounded and boy is that a killer!

But you know what the good thing is? At least I'm admitting it and I'm looking for solutions. I still don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying. E for effort, right?

I'll see how tomorrow goes. I'm tired, and I know I will feel much happier tomorrow. I might just delete this post. But I really wanted to vent. It feels good to understand my feelings now.

One thing is for certain: I am definitely looking forward to GRETA KISSES, my favorite time of the day :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 4 & 5 of Phase 1

Yesterday I did get video..... but definitely wasn't our best ride and not a fair view at how far we are progressing. It was almost entirely my fault, as I was treating more like a "exercise" ride than an actual ride.

Today, though, was perfect! After a few trials and errors, she was moving off my leg and seat like no problem. We had one great serpentine where she stopped the minute I "froze" my seat and stopped moving with her in a passive seat. I had lightly, microscopically, jiggled the inside rein as like a "hey, I'm about to do something!" and bam! She listened :)

Also, her moving off my leg has become a no-problemo almost all of the time, and she is tracking up nicely at the walk and trot. I asked her to put more oomph into her trot today, and that worked out nicely. From there, we moved into slowing our trot both rising and sitting, and then back to a normal trot. Lots of light contact, halts, and transitions, and a few leg yields on the track and on a circle to further the "move off my leg" concept. She has a lot of this down. I'm afraid to say she is "on the bit" when I think she is, which is why video so y'all could see would be nice! But at this point, she appears to be swingy in the back and accepting the bit and moving off my leg and seat, etc. Progress, progress, progress!

Also I rode her around the pasture today and let her gallop and did a lot of the same schooling patterns we did in the arena, just to spice things up a bit. She seems to do well, and I feel good that I'm not making her "arena sour" by only moseying around in the covered arena. We have also been doing work in the outdoor arena and walks up and down the driveway and just hacking around the property.

But we've always done that... so it's nothing terribly new.... but the covered arena is still her comfort zone (and there are even some scary points in there haha!) so it's all kind of new..... I don't know, we just do it because we can, and because it's fun!

Wow, it's only day 5... we're doing good! This is all really just more of a refresher. At this points we're doing our normal daily workouts, just tweaking a few things....

Also, I have to attest to the pour-scrape method mentioned in the article I posted earlier (I had also seen vets do it for horses at the Rolex after the XC round, except with ice water and actual temperature taking, but those horses had also been doing something far more strenuous). After I finished riding another horse (another story for another day, like tomorrow....) it was about 12:30. I rode Greta from about 12:50 until 1:45 (I meant to do longer, but we got a lot done today) and it was about 90 degrees outside, probably around 92 towards the end of the ride. Nothing the two of them aren't used to, it is summertime in Texas afterall. Both Odin and Greta did sweat nicely (but I didn't work them into a drippy, stumbling mess, that's too much sweat haha!) and I tried the pour-scrape method. It really does work (I couldn't see why it wouldn't) and both of them (and Odin is far bigger than Greta) took only 3 rounds of wetting and scraping before they were back to a normal temperature. So try it, it works! And I felt much better knowing they were comfortable.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 3 of Phase 1

Firstly Greta got her feet trimmed today (she is barefoot btw) and the farrier said he thought they looked wonderful. I must get pictures. Her feet have become nicely concave, and her frogs are nice and wide and thick. They just look nice!

And riding.....

Today wasn't as brilliant as Saturday, as I forgot to do as many halt transitions and rein backs as I did Saturday. We did some, but we didn't do much. Oops. It wasn't a killer though. Her trot is looking awesome, though her walk still has some stuff left to be desired. I don't know why her trot looks better than her walk.... but she's always carried herself nicely at the trot. I cantered her on a loose rein just to let her canter, but we really drilled the walk and trot. Fortunately, we were able to work some in the covered arena, then move over to the outdoor arena. The outdoor arena did prove a point on how much better Greta is responding to my leg aids now.

Greta hasn't been in the outdoor arena for almost two weeks now because it has been too wet, so it almost seemed all of my hard work desensitizing her to the end that adjoins the Scary Utility Shed was for naught. But because she is listening to my aids much better now, she quickly responded to my opening of the outside rein, pushing her over with my inside leg, and putting more weight on my outside seat bone. I'm sure it might've looked crude for the first few times, but after a while, she was nailing it. She would still keep a hard eye on the Scary Utility Shed, but she would keep walking and trotting on without hiking her head up or quickening her pace. When we came at that end of the arena from the centerline, she hiked her head up and tried to veer away from it as much as possible, but that's just something we'll have to work on, now won't we?

I will hopefully be getting video tomorrow, and I will definitely remember to do as much transitions as I did Saturday (hehe) and I'm sure that will make things just as wonderful as they were today :)

Also, I will attest now that riding in shorts with a saddle and tall boots is actually quite comfortable. I almost had a better seat and leg position and feel. Weird.

She's feeling like a star, you can't stop her shine...

Yesterday was Greta's day off, after have being ridden since last Saturday. But I did go out and see her of course, and we brought along her favorite Shadow puppy:

And when I was grazing her outside, I finally saw how shiny and slick and soft Greta's coat has gotten. Also, she has far more freckles showing up than last summer. Every grooming, she gets a good curry, a brushing with a medium brush (unless the bristle brush is required) and then a good once over with a goathair brush. With her face, I use the fine curry comb, a face brush, and the goat hair brush. No Show Sheen. Nothing. Her supplement, night turnout, and health likely has a lot to with it LOL, but I just like to think my grooming skillz are a-mazing. It was nice to stand back and look at Miss Greta and think, "See that gorgeous pony over there? That's my horse."

I wonder if that whole pride-and-joy thing is how moms feel..... likely.

But anyway, shiny pictures....

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Day 2 of Phase 1


We started off with a little brisk walk up and down the driveway. She was very iffy about going past the Scary Utility Shed that is at the end of the driveway, but we have to walk past it to get on the driveway in the first place, soooo... we had to go over the "creek" instead because she did not want to walk past the Scary Utility Shed and over the bridge that crosses the "creek". I say "creek" because it's a little flow of water that happens to run through a dip in the grass when there is rain, it turns into a legitimate creek about fifty feet after it crosses beneath the bridge.... it's complicated, but it's definitely safe to cross (it barely goes up to my ankles)............... anyway, we went over that, back onto the driveway, up, down, and then she walked over the bridge and past the Scary Utility Shed without a big fuss. All the while we were working on a brisk, swinging walk.

In the arena, we did some more walking exercises, and then I tried picking up the reins a bit. She arched into them nicely and didn't draw her head up. She did once or twice, so I just dropped the reins and tried it again. Then I decided to give the trot a go. We trotted entirely on the buckle, both sitting and rising, and boy was she nailing it! She had her neck slightly arched and she had a nice swinging trot going. After about and hour of trotting and walking, I picked up a sitting trot and picked up the reins about three or four inches from the buckle, as we had been working our way up. Instantly she got a huge, lovely arch in her neck and her nose was perpendicular to the ground. I felt her launch off her hind legs and her back swing beneath me. This happened halfway down the long side of the arena, so I let her go like this, still on a fairly loose rein, down the rest of the long side and around the corner and immediately let her walk and gave her some instant praise overload and called it a day. It was amazing. I cooled her off by walking up and down the driveway again, this time uneventful.

All throughout the ride we did halts and rein backs, which was followed by having her move off at a brisk walk off of a light leg aid. Also, the downward transitions were all wonderful and no reins were used. I cantered her on a large circle once going both ways, just to feel it. It felt more controlled, so that's a plus.

All in all, a successful day!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 1 of Phase 1

Phase 1 of our Back to Basics work: lots of walking. Vigorous walking, lots of circles and serpentines etcetera, but walking nonetheless.

I did not set up the video camera, because there was four other riders in the arena, and I wasn't sure if they would appreciate being videotaped. Awkward....

It actually went very well today. She was stepping very much under herself and going at a very brisk walk (we just walked the entire time, but she was breathing a bit harder than she would be at rest, so it was a constant vigorous walk) and I noticed her back was rounded and her neck was up (it was out straight and made a nice gentle arch with the occasional stretch, but the poll was the highest point). I was able to pick the reins up, but much further and we lost the swing in her back, though she did have one or two "aha!" moments where she reached for the bit for two or three steps haha! But really she just inverted her neck when I went beyond picking up 2 inches of rein, so we went back to where we were and just kept trying.

Almost solely going to the right she would exaggerate some of the curves on a circle or serpentine and her outside shoulder would pop out, so I tried counterflexation (hard concept for both of us to grasp, because I just end up almost telling her to side pass, and she is like "But, you want to go RIGHT, right? So that means I curve right, right?" bless her) but our iffy counterflex did work most of the time!

Also on a loose rein, I worked on controlling her pace with my seat movement, and it was a bit iffy at first, but about halfway through the ride, she was nailing shortening and extending her pace, and the halting soon followed. They weren't always square, but she halted without me having to tug at the reins. I had to add a verbal "whoa" most of the time, to reinforce that when I stopped the movement in my seat for longer than usual, I meant "whoa", because that's what she responds to on the longe line, and it clicked very quickly.

I think I don't need to keep pushing her the entire ride. I really overused my seat and legs most of time, so that might've been why when I picked up the reins she had kind of become deaf to all that "chatter" I had been producing the entire ride. I don't really know... it's just what I have read before.

Our ride time was about an hour and 20 minutes, going at a brisk working walk on a loose rein the entire time. We had a lot of really good moments!

Now, I'm out to the barn again.... because I can :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jane Savoie on the Basic Use Of the Aids in Dressage Training

I'm so glad she has these videos on YouTube. She explains things quite easily (I like the swingset push explanation, a big "OH!" moment right there haha!) and this will just be another bit to add to our Back to Basics venture!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back to some basics....

Yah, after lots of difficulties in previous rides, as nice as some moments were, I feel like we really need to learn and revisit some basics. I feel like I'm doing something wrong. We've never really touched on proper downward transitions or halting without tugging at the reins, and I worry too much about keeping her in a preconceived shape instead of letting her relax into the bit, which she will do at times. As far as the trot, it seems as if we are sacrificing moving forward and into the bit for just being a preconceived shape that ultimately has her bracing against my hands. The canter is still a work in progress, but I need to not let her get away with leaning on the reins and totally landing on the forehand. It's almost as if we have been taught the easy way out and not the slow and steady way.

Greta probably hasn't done hardcore dressage in almost 2 or 3 years, maybe more. It is my responsibility to make sure we continue with what we have learned, but to make sure it is done the right way so nothing is ruined for the future. We may not be round 100% or the time, but we'll focus on going forward and having Greta carry herself, not me forcing her onto the bit.

I don't really know what do as far as the canter, but I'm sure we'll get that down.... eventually........... hopefully.

Today's ride would've been much better if I had left off with a beautiful canter-to-trot transition Greta gave me. I felt her suddenly round up without any rein pressure, just my seat giving kind of a "downward shift" command (that I am far from mastering) and she just floated into the trot. I didn't bounce up and down and be forced to post, we just.... trotted. I started to walk her out of the arena, then I thought, "Oh, let's just do that a few more times!"

Well, nothing happens the same way twice. And it certainly didn't today.

So, as you can imagine, I'm a bit on the frustrated side in that I didn't do this much earlier when I felt some problems were arising.

I'm not erasing everything, just touching up on things that really need to be touched up on, particularly self-carriage and forwardness. I will be taking a long break from lessons so Greta and I can just slow down. We won't be doing any shows in the fall, I'm sure.

So as far with my sillyness as today's riding, yes, I'm frustrated and was tearing up on the way home that I couldn't have just ended things on a positive note. Yes, I cried over it hehe.

But I guess we did end it on a positive note, as Greta carried herself in the trot for several strides and make another nice floaty transition down to walk and a very light transition to the halt. I called it a day, and we cooled off outside the arena. We made it down the driveway without any refusal!!! YESSSSSS!!!!

So here is the plan, starting to tomorrow, based on what I've read and what sounds right, I suppose. Once again... I'm doing this DIY-style, so if something seems off, please let me know:
  1. Work on going forward at the walk and trot on a fairly loose rein
  2. Work on transitions between halt, walk, and trot and rely much less on my reins and more on my seat so our downward transitions aren't just falling into the next gait.
  3. Basic circles and diagonals and half diagonals and serpentines, both 2 loop and 3 loop
  4. Keep canter work to just having a controlled pace, loose rein as well. I don't really know much on how to activate her haunches in the canter....
  5. Go forward in the trot and have Greta relax into the bit. I haven't really had much luck with this either, but I'm sure we'll figure it out?
  6. I need to just soften my body: soften my eyes, breath more from my diaphragm, let energy flow from Greta's haunches through my hands and forward to her front.
I really hope this will work. We'll still be working on leg yields (which come in handy to get her into scary corners and making circles smaller and bigger) and anything we have already learned and learned right. Trot extensions I kind of want to hold off until we can just do it at the walk. I don't really know how to do that either.

I feel like I'm diving into choppy water. But the deeper I dive, the calmer it will get. Greta and I just need to dive back into some basics before we move on much more. I am so frustrated but I just know this is the best way: the right way.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sunset Turnout 7-5-2010

This is from when Greta was turned out last night (the stalled horses get turned out at night due to the soaring temperatues during the day, but they still get about 10 hours of turnout in the cooler weather so it's very nice!) after the horses had been inside for almost a week and a half due to rainy weather! They were all so happy!

I'll post riding updates tonight or tomorrow, something like that. Enjoy this until then!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Today's ride...

As far as our ride today, Greta was star-gazing alot and it wasn't until later in the ride that she focused, so that's when we worked on our transitions and simple lead changes. Mostly, I would say it was a good ride in that I got some very nice canter departs and transtions (trot a few strides, walk a few strides, trot a few strides, canter a few strides, trot a few, canter a few, trot a few, and so on...) and we successfully walked down the driveway without having to have my friend on her Mister Mio take the lead to make Greta comfortable. We had a few times where Greta did her usually "Are you crazy? I'm not walking towards that scary thing!" moments, but I just had to keep pushing her through and she actually listened and didn't veer out of the way!

So, we have had successful rides lately. Nothing but improvement :) !!!


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thursday, Friday, and Today

So, firstly, I hope everyone has a fantastic Fourth of July weekend. I myself am perpetually terrifed by fireworks up close, and Texas has a never-ending burn ban, so my family and will just stick it out and watch The Boston Pops tomorrow night! Although, I'm not looking forward to seeing some of the their guest stars. Nothing says "America" like Robert Pattinson! Oh, sigh....

So, Greta (my Naturalized Swedish American pony bahaha) has been superb lately, considering she has been in for almost a week now due to the nasty weather, although today it quickly cleared up. I liked the cool weather, just not the mud and muck that came with it. But even though it will get hotter, it means Greta and I won't be getting bored anymore with having to confine ourselves to the covered arena, and we can continue our work in the outdoor arena and the pastures.

She has been exceptional about longeing, and yesterday and today she picked up her transitions like a pro (trot a few strides, canter a few strides, go back to trot, go to walk, go to canter). We have been working on those on the longeline, because I am hoping that it might help some under saddle to get her body used to a bit more collected transitions. Also, it's a great focusing tactic, and I know I will be doing such exercises on the longeline at the Wolfgang May Clinic next Sunday. They worked last time to ensure she was listening to my cues, so I am trusting that they will work this time.

Today under saddle went very well, until I had to stop to tighten the girth because I felt the saddle slipping a little bit (and when I checked the girth it had become a bit loose). So Greta threw a little hissy fit because we didn't stop working, figuring her job was done. It wasn't. We still had the transitions to work on. We actually rode for and hour and a half today, and it was a hard workout! I was sweating, but of course Greta was sweating the most. But the nice grooming before (well, I always give her a good currying and once-over with the stiff brush, then the medium brush, then the goat hair brush, so today was nothing new haha) and nice liniment bath afterwards and big flake of hay made up for it all I'm sure.

Our biggest hiccup today though was entirely my fault, and I felt terribly bad. I guess I had begun to slack off towards the end of our ride. Greta would not circle right. I had to actually turn her in a twenty meter circle with the right rein, because it felt Greta was deaf to my leg and seat, and it was frustrating. So we drilled several large right circles (I HATE Endless Circle Torture, and do not use just as a casual workout) at the trot and nothing I was not getting any results, so I brought her to a walk, trying to see at a slower pace what was going on. Get this?

Instead of sitting on my outside seatbone and pushing my inside hip in, I was leaning to the inside and putting my right seatbone on her and my inside hip and my inside leg, so she was only being polite and moving to the left like I was asking most awkwardly. I wasn't balancing her. Boy, did I feel stupid and remorseful. The instant I corrected my silly mistake, she was making right circles and turns like it was not a problem. Bless her, she was only doing what she was told!

So my lesson for today is: if it's not working at the trot or canter, go back to a walk so you actually feel what is going on. I'm so smart haha! And I meant that last statement in the most sarcastic manner....

I love you, Greta!!!