Saturday, December 18, 2010
Well I've had two lessons canceled in two weeks... I guess I'll try around Christmas. One Friday afternoon lesson was scheduled due to the fact that I'm middle management at my office and expected to drop everything for the good of the whole. Then yesterday's lesson was canceled due the steady drizzling rain that came down all... day... long. The rains came just when the arenas seemed to be manageable again, not dry yet, but at least you could ride with risking trotting into a lake or a horse eating bog. Now it looks like another 7 days straight of raining, and enough inches to have flooding. UGH!
I need some creative ideas for the indoor arena. It really is the size of a two 20 meter circles. That's it. Cantering in the tiny space is not conducive to building her confidence because she's worried about balancing, but trot circles and other figures could be good. I've been playing around with more leg yielding, and the beginning of shoulder in, so the walls will be a good tool to continue that. I just hate being so confined, but I need to look at the positives.
I am tempted to trailer and out test my luck with muddy trails, but can't really convince myself to actually ride WHILE its raining. Maybe I'll catch a break on a day that I have time to trailer somewhere.
Any good "tiny arena" excercise suggestions????
Thursday, November 18, 2010
We did all right. You can see the course behind us in the pictures. Sadly my volunteer photographer had her 10 month old son strapped to her chest, and he decided that he just couldn't wait around. So I don't have any pictures of riding the course. Just one walking around warming up.
Lola was quite distracted and that was a huge obstacle to work through. She was nervous and it took a few tries to walk through the "chute", but she was good with backing the L, side passing, walking and trotting the poles, and going over the bridge. In general I though we did well. We had to weave around some stumps at the jog for two of the patterns, and this proved to be very difficult! It was like tight little serpentine, small half circle while making her keep the jog. We got it the second try though and I was very pleased. Basically we did three different patterns through the same obstacles, so it was slightly different each time, but she got to see the obstacle again which let us improve each time. Except for the gate... the gate that wasn't a gate.. the gate that was two jump standards with a slithery-snakey rope on the top. Lola can do gates, we do them all the time. This was not a gate to her, she didn't get it, and she REALLY didn't like it! It was something she'd never seen before, so I didn't fault her for it. We just spent some time trying to make some training progress with it each try. We didn't successfully complete the obstacle even by schooling show standards, but I made her work and try non the less. At the end of the last patter, the judge commented that I had put in some nice schooling on that gate. Always nice to hear a little encouragement for training since I wasn't going to get it by winning!
We follow up the trail classes with a little ride through the park. It was pretty chaotic there with horses and just regular families, plus the wind had really picked up, so there was a whole lot to spook at. She did alright, I got the challenge that I wanted!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I have been having this problem lately. What do I do with this wet horse when its getting colder and colder, but she's too hot to put the blanket on??? So I made the most of the long cool down ahead of us. I took the saddle off, threw a cooler on her, and hopped on bareback. I figured if she was going to have to walk it off for another half hour minimum, I might as well be training. We worked on a good quality walk on the bit with collecting and lengthening her stride. We worked on backing the L that I set up with poles, and then started some leg yield and side pass warm up attempts. She can side pass both directions, but her leg yield to the left is never like it is to the right. So I really worked on getting her to move her haunches, we made a square and at each corner I asked her to move her haunches out in order to turn the corner. Like a turn on the forehand each corner. We then moved that to more of a constant pushing of her haunches out around the circle and then tried another leg yield. Magic! It actually felt halfway correct! And really, halfway correct is as good as any of my yielding or lateral work feels.
We played around a bit more with side passing the L, and then opened and closed the gate to the arena. By time we had done all that, she was dry! She was all cooled out, and we both had more fun than if I had hand walked her for 30 minutes! I bet are all suspicious about all this playing around with trail obstacles! More on THAT tomorrow....
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
We did a great poker ride at the beginning of the month. They stuck the cards in big white feed sacks and hung them from trees! So I definitely had to get off and lead her to the first tree! Really, big white bag swinging in the wind, and I expect her to walk up close enough to reach my whole arm in????? Well we got there by the end. She was a pro and swaying white crinkly bags by the end. AND we didn't do too badly with our poker hand and I was able to pick out some hoof supplement from the prize table! Of course its going to Bear... sorry Lola.
We had a great trail ride out at the lake early in the month, and after being gone all summer I was surprised to see so much beach and so little water! I'd forgotten what a difference there is in the fall versus the spring when its a reservoir lake like that!
Lola got her shots in October, and again she acted like we stuck a knife in her! Silly girl. Just provide the biggest possible contrast, Bear hardly blinked. I didn't even realize the vet had done it.
What else... we've had some great dressage lessons. She's really coming along each time. I really enjoy riding her each time! That's always a nice bonus! We've been working mostly after dark since I work all day, and she's adjusted to working in the big arena with lights really well. She's not a big fan of it when is sloppy and wet, but I can't blame her. She's also adjusted to the overly tiny indoor arena and we can actually get some lunge work done in there now. Just goes to show how much more balanced she is! Also, her canter work is becoming not only more consistent, but more balanced and more confident. It is no where near perfect, but enjoyable is a good place to start!
I guess that's the most of it. The weather has been a bit on and off. We went from sweating in the sun on Friday and Saturday to storming all day Sunday and switching to the heavier winter blankets on Monday. I still have the rain sheets out because I'm not convinced we're all the way into winter yet!
I'm looking forward to some drier days this weekend. I think we might actually go out and have some fun too!
Monday, October 25, 2010
but seriously Lola is jumping it like it was a house instead of 2 foot.
So I updated the summer, by September we were getting back into a groove.
We have a very talented eventing trainer in the area, and I’ve been hoping to take a lesson to try her out for over a year and a half. So while Lola was still living at my parents (a little vacation after Santa Barbara before heading back to boarding) we were much closer to the trainer and we went out for a jumping lesson. I’ve done about as much as I’m comfortable doing on my own. Lots of poles, cavelettis, grids, and low cross rails courses. I’ve basically been trotting up to everything and then cantering though the grids so she learns to jump from the base and stay relaxed. So for our very first lesson Lola calmly trotted up to the cross rail, picked up her feet and landed trotting away. The trainer laughed that Lola didn’t seem very impressed. I told that had been my goal. Easy peasy.
So she pushed us to jump a little higher x’s and some oxers, she had us cantering away and mixing things up a bit with some cantering around the arena. Then she got on to try her out and we popped the fences up a little higher to see if we could wake her up. The great thing about this is that I can work up to where I’m comfortable, and then the trainer can push her a little farther. I like this idea A LOT!
For the second lesson I dragged my boyfriend out to video. I was really pleased with the lesson considering Lola and I are both out of shape after about a month off. There is plenty of room for improvement in my jumping, but I could at least pick out some things to be happy about. Then when the trainer got on I was pleased with Lola’s willingness to keep going even though she was tired and this was more physically and mentally than I had ever asked of her. At the end, I was beat, she was beat, but I think we both felt pretty stinking proud of ourselves.
We did some canter poles...
Then we started with the easy cross bar with a pole down to help her with distance.
Then that got bumped up to a vertical...
And finally we tried an oxer! YIKES!
1st attempt is a little wiggly
Second go is a little better.
That was about the end of my comfort level since my legs were screaming from all the canter over poles... You can see I'm getting tossed about like a rag doll in these last two. But in my defense, she's jumping it big, and she's still jumping it a little awkwardly. When I freeze the frame it shows how much she's clearing the rails by!
So we did a different sort of pushing the comfort level. We cantered while approaching the cross bar! She was great.
Now if I could just keep this up at home we'd be jumping courses at shows in no time. But sadly time has been scarce and money for lessons is almost non existent. So we're taking it slowly. We've jumped twice since then very successfully, but we also kept it to 18 inches! I figure I better not push my luck. We'll jump real jumps while the trainer watches. We'll jump little fun things to keep our minds and bodies fresh in the mean time.
Well, I’ve briefly updated Bear’s blog, but Lola’s post is a bit more complicated. While Bear had a summer sitting in pasture, Lola’s summer was a little more like a long hard day full of emotional turmoil and dinosaur fights (my favorite quote from Meet the Robinsons). :) Basically I had the best bad news ever.
Lola’s nervous choppy trot seemed to be turning into explosive canter departs on the lunge line, and a general inability to work productively due to what seemed to be nervous, anxious, and overall negative energy. Mix into this some of the most productive and impressive rides I’d ever gotten out of her. Total craps shoot every day. I mean she gave me the best relaxed and on the bit trot I had ever gotten from her while enormous tractors were mowing down the 5 foot weeds all around the edge of the arena. Seriously, what horse behaves that well! Then other days she was like a bottled up rocket. I was pulling my hair out trying to sort out what I thought was a training issue. And then the life-changing event took place.
One evening, about 5 minutes into lunging she bucked when asked to pick up the canter, and then just wanted to stop. She seemed dead set on not behaving, she was nervous and dripping in sweat. I didn’t have a clue what was happening. I tested her out at walk trot and canter thinking anything under the sun. Maybe she hurt herself. Maybe she’s being super naughty. Maybe she’s just plain gone crazy. She looked stiff and slow. She looked like each step was getting smaller until she was jogging like a western pleasure horse. So with the trot-canter test failed, I thought maybe I could walk her out of this. Nope. Still dripping sweat, still stiff, and also shaking uncontrollably. So after maybe 10 minutes of desperately trying to figure it out, I was slammed in the face with the reality that something was seriously wrong. She was still sweating and shaking, and once she stopped, she was stuck there, couldn't move. Anyway, one complete and total emotional breakdown, and one emergency vet visit later, I got the best bad news ever. Sounds like she has PSSM, and simply put, she can’t metabolism feed high in starches. Feeds like the corn, oats, and barley grain, and the oat hay I was feeding her over the summer. Or the feeds with high sugar content like all the spring grass she was eating while in pasture up until May. Basically, since I’ve had her, I’ve been feeding her stuff that would trigger symptoms. These symptoms can include muscle tightness, a stiff choppy stride, reluctance to canter, a nervous or uptight demeanor due to just plain being uncomfortable, and most severely, PSSM horses will tie up, which is what happened that night. So good news from the bad news, once diet is managed something like more than 75% of horse have no more symptoms, a noticeable change in gait, and no more episodes of tying up! That one night sucked, I’m not going to lie, but I count myself lucky to have figured out she needed a diet change.
So long story short, I have a whole new horse. Well, not exactly, I have my good version of Lola. I had glimpses of her all along. My trainer had commented back in May that she seemed to need a 45 minute warm up before she could really work and use her body, like she just couldn’t do it early in the ride. The first time she saw her after the summer she commented on how different she moved, and that her muscles even looked less tight and contracted. Amazing difference! Canter departs are no longer a source of anxiety for her. She’s got better quality gaits. She’s relaxed and happy to work. She’s the good Lola all the time now. Also have heard in the prognosis for diet change that it can take four to six months for the changes to be complete. After that, if the diet is working, its just plain working. So I don't think she'll have another tie-up episode, and she's moving loads better.
So that’s the major update. Lot’s more good stuff to follow!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
So the first day she got to just chill and take in the new surroundings. Monday I pulled her out and lunged her and worked her in hand just a bit. Tuesday we started back to work and she got a good ride. Wednesday she got an hour turn out. Thursday and Friday, more good training rides. I think this will end up being our pattern. Mondays and Wednesdays will be hard to fit in much of anything. In fact Tuesdays could get tough too. But Thursday through Sunday, I have the luxury of just enjoying being out at the barn and loosing track of time, which I inevitably do.
Saturday we did something awesome. We had a GOOD rider put a ride on her! Not that I'm a bad rider, but we'll just say that this rider has more experience at higher levels of dressage AND in bringing young horses along, AND she's just plain more talented than I am! I was very lucky to have the chance to see Lola go so well. This rider got a ton more consistency from Lola than I do. Where I get to see little glimmers of beauty her and there with a her feet flying every which way the rest of the time, this rider could keep her moving more the way she's supposed with only little bumps of chaos every so often. Green horses are always seeking to balance themselves and a rider that can create structure for the horse using their body to regulate the tempo. I can do this to some degree, but I'm also a work in progress. It was a huge treat to see her moving so nicely! The good news, it all stuck with her the next day! She was a fantastic steady horse when I rode her the next day! Let's see how long I can keep up the good work!
I am hoping to get her out on the trail soon. Since its a little complicated as to where we can ride and where we can't, I need to go out with someone that knows the trails the first few times. I'm hoping that this next weekend it might actually happen.
Monday, June 7, 2010
We had a very successful little schooling show. It was a small show that was really geared to creating a safe environment for beginner riders and green horses. Perfect place to set Lola up for success.
The first class we did was a hunter course over just the ground poles. She did fine, she was just a little inconsistent by getting a little quick down one line, and her head was sort of all over the place as she kept finding her balance, but over all she felt like she was listening well and relaxed. The whole point of the first class was to get her in the arena, and get us both relaxed. Its no big deal, its no big deal, its no big deal...
Next class we did the exact same course, but trotting it over poles. Again, my whole goal was to create relaxation, focus on what I'm asking of her, and a steady forward tempo. We totally obliterated one jump! I mean come on Lola, they're cross bars! Actually they were quite easy to knock down because they were the hollow pvc type and were not weighted at all. A little knock or rub that would leave a regular wood pole in the cups sent these poles flying in all directions. Now that I've watched the video, I see that it wasn't nearly as bad as it sounded!
Third and final class (because we had been there FOUR HOURS for just three little classes) was the exact same course, just a maiden class instead of 18 and over. So my goal was to not destroy a jump (of course) and to get at least one line where she maintained a canter between jumps. She was understanding the idea of cantering away, but was unsure of herself and her stride approaching the next jump. Its fine with me that she trots to the base and jumps better because of it, but I do need to start challenging her. First line I just developped the idea of cantering away, but let her trot the second fence. Second line she tried to eat dirt. So on the third line, I suggested to her that she keep the canter. She got a little squirrely and started looking sideways, but still took the next jump like a good girl, I encouraged again, and, again even though she was looking to veer a little she jumped it from a canter. I was pleased! So we went right back to trotting, and finished the last line at a good trot to regulate her mind and rhythm after something new.
We ended up with thirds in both cross bar classes! Hurray for small schooling shows awarding our small training successes! I should also mention it was 95 degrees!! Officially summer, and I was officially beat!
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Monday, I had a limited amount of time, but still wanted to ride. Lola did really well. I've realized she needs to build up her conditioning some, so I set timers and stuck to one gait until the timer went off. So we cantered for two minutes, which is surprisingly only a few laps around the arena.
We had another great lesson on Tuesday, despite the weather! We were stuck in the little indoor arena because it poured all day Tuesday. (Plus is was drizzling all through the lesson. Stupid rain!) So even though the indoor arena is perfect for free lunging over jumps, its tight for riding. So we worked on 20meter circles and started working on figure 8s. She was feeling silly, understandable for the weather, and was really looking and shying from a corner of the arena. This was great actually, because it was the first time the trainer has ever seen her have an issue with spooking, and gave us some great tips on how to work through it. The thing is, if I have her full attention, she's too focused to look at things. We didn't try any canter work since it is a small space, and there were some slick spots from being over watered.
Wednesday I went out at lunch and just turned Lola and Bear out to run through the puddles in the big arena, good enough footing still to gallop around like wild beasties, but I sure didn't want to ride in it! They had fun, and rolled, and that was it for the day.
Thursday we had our free lunge over jumps session. She did fantastic! Plus I got video! YEAH!
Here are just a few clips of the fun we had!
Then I hopped on her bareback with just the halter and rope (and helmet) and she was great considering she wasn't too sure about the whole yielding from the pull of the halter on a turn. She figured it out pretty quick.
Friday I was able to sneak in a quick ride before other plans. We warmed up really good with the circles and serpentines at the walk, then big trot circles. We had to get creative to ride in the very wet arena without hitting the deep mud spots. It meant splashing straight through puddles a few times, so she had to get over that. We ended with a big canter. Overall a good ride for the time I had.
Saturday was trail day!! Yeah! We had lots of ups and downs for building their butts, then came back to the trails that were a little less rocky to do some trot and cantering. Lots of fun! We did have two scary incidents! While crossing through some water up to their bellies, Lola suddenly hit a hole or a sinking spots because her head suddenly crashed into the water! She took two huge leaps forward to get out of it. She came out fine and the friend riding was fine, but watching it happen was scary, I thought they were both going down in the water! The second incident happened to Bear. The was a big old snake in the trail (rattler I'm pretty sure) and when Lola passed by it she trotted forward without my friend even seeing it. But having a horse walk right passed it got the snake pretty pissed off, so just as I came upon it and the snake came straight at me and Bear with its head raised to strike! VERY AGRESSIVE! I FREAKED out! I hauled Bear backwards as fast as I could and started to turn to go back the other direction, but as soon as I gave the snake a good five foot space again the snake slithered off to the bushes. CRAZY! It was like three feet long!
Sunday she had off, so Monday night I went out and did a little over fences work.
We started with just trotting over the poles on the ground.
Next we went to the little cross bar with trot poles leading in.
She was going really well, so I put up just a tiny vertical.
The vertical got better the second time since she got the canter stride after the poles.
Then made it into a little 2ft oxer. Excuse the equitation, it was 80 degrees with major humidity, and I was beat before I ever got to the barn, so I was very loose in the tack and getting left behind. She looks cute though!
We ended by just going back to the easy relaxing trot circle. She still isn't relaxing and stretching down in the bit because she's all hyped up about the fences, but over all it was a great improvement over last time. She's staying pretty steady up to the fence.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Well Monday she got her feet trimmed, as usual she was a perfect angel compared to my four year old gelding!
Tuesday we had our dressage lesson. which was more work than that either of us have had to do before! The trainer had us just going for a half hour solid of hard work without much of a breather! He trot is getting great, very easy to push out or collect back, and she's really getting into the long stretchy trot that we do at the end! We worked on pushing her hind leg underneath her more, especially to the right, to pick up her right lead correctly. Tough stuff! She had to mover her haunches towards the outside, but she really got the idea. Lateral work has always come pretty easy to her.
Thursday we had a continuation of our jumping gymnastics. Some were the same some were different. I also popped her over a cross rail a couple times on the lunge line since we haven't free jumped for awhile and I think that's important for keeping her confidence growing.
And then a little bigger to see how she's doing.
We started out nice and quiet, working on basic trot poles to small cross bars.
You can tell she's just a bit wiggly still on the approach, but once we get in straight she keeps going.
Our very first little course. You can see by the third jump she is starting to get a little fussy. She was listening pretty well though.
We had to change up the course every so often to keep her from anticipating too much, then started to mix the trot poles in to steady her back to her happy little self.
You can see by the end she started to get a little fussy and pop her head up and be resistant a bit. We had been working for a really long time, so we were both pooped.
So we went back to just plain trotting, she was up and down and all around. So I went back to the basic of just asking her to hold herself together at a good trot. She got antsy whenever we passed the jumps... silly girl. So we will just be working at this level until she can keep her cool and her rhythm going through little courses like this. No big deal, no change in pace, or attitude.
As for the weather... I've never seen this much rain in California in May! Crazy! Weird rain and cold weather, plus my busy schedule meant we weren't up to much this weekend. She got some well deserved time off, and we're back at it this week!
Monday, May 17, 2010
I had another friend come out on Sunday for a repeat of last weekend. She hopped on Lola at the barn and played around with her for a while. She cantered her around the big jumping arena, and even took her through the little gymnastics that were still set up from my big ride on Thursday. She was good as usual!
We took the two horses out to the lake after that. What a fun day. They were LOADS better than last time. Still a few piles of wood had monsters in them, but over all they tackled the rocks and steps and tricky trails like pros. We got them to go into the lake, and then cross a spot that came just about up to their bellies.
We found something kind of cool sitting in the middle of the trail…
A turtle! After she picked it up, she informed me it was a SNAPPING turtle, and then asked me to hold it while she got back on! WHAT?!?!? Yes, she was determined to get him back to the water somewhere since some how he had wandered up to the top of the hill with no water in sight. There may have been some natural streams with all the rains, but now those are all gone and dry. So she rode Lola one handed back down the tricky spots of the trail carrying a turtle. I just laughed!
We found a pretty little pond, where he quickly jumped in and hid under the water. So the turtle was saved! That is he was saved unless he really WANTED to be at the top of the hill! Then we sort of ruined his plan!
Anyway, we had a blast. Its been so much fun to be a 5 minute trailer ride from some of the most fabulous trails in northern California. My weekends are starting to get so crazy I think I'll see about squeezing in a weeknight ride!
Friday, May 14, 2010
Tonight, though, is the big post! Tonight we actually started doing the jumping gymnastics under saddle! Its time. I've put it off long enough, and that's because I'm chicken. So we stuck to really easy low stuff, because I'm chicken. But despite the fact that I'm a big ol', that's right, CHICKEN, Lola did fantastic! We even got video! Thanks to an ever so patient boyfriend.
So its all pretty low, and after looking at it, it doesn't seem very impressive, and I realize I need some major work on myself jumping... which is why I'm so chicken... my sense of self preservation tells me I'm wobbly! Despite that I felt GREAT right after the ride!!! She was being SO GOOD! Considering it was her first time, she did fantastic! She tried her little heart out, and she was focused and paying attention, which are all good things!
So in this first one we weren't too straight, my fault, but she jumped it anyway, just a bit bigger than I was expecting... See my butt come up in the air??? Lola's response was, "Hey I'm working hard enough down here, at least keep yourself up right!" You could read that in her "bouncing" canter after the jump!
I also realize now that I'm looking at the footage, that he was in a terrible spot to get video! I REALLY don't want to look at myself from THAT angle! But he doesn't know what angle to get horse shots from. So its unfortunate that he never got one from out in front. Next time...
She was good about trotting in right to the base. She was quiet and responsive. She cantered off nicely each time, and halted when asked. Pretty darn good start!
These are taking ages to load tonight... so there pretty much in here in no particular order. I'm not even sure which is which anymore...
Now I'm off to bed...
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Lola is really good when I just ride correctly. The rest of the time, she is patient, which I appreciate! We had some good break through's tonight. She is really trotting well now with bend and suppleness and rhythm and she responds to my seat to slow down or step out again. She also is starting to learn to stretch her neck down at the trot. I love when horses know how to do this because its such a great warm up and cool down exercise.
We also succeeded in a balanced relaxed canter depart while staying on the bit! WOO HOO!!!! We had a great canter for a half a circle and a good transition back to the nice calm trot, without loosing contact. I was amazed how different it felt from her uncoordinated attempts to figure out what I wanted as I was half running her, half dropping her into the canter like I have been. This was wonderful. Now lets hope I can recreate it alone this week!
The trainer also recommended lunging as little as possible now that we are building her idea of a "tick-tock steady clock" trot and canter rhythm. The lunging just wasn't helping. So instead of warming up with that each ride, we'll save the lunging for the handful of times that I lunge or free lunge over fences. She's not a hot horse that needs lunging before riding... I've just always done it as a courtesy to the horse to allow them to warm up their muscles. But as it is we're spending a half hour undersaddle doing warm up exercises, so I guess we'll be just fine.
Man oh man that canter depart was good. It was the kind of ride that lingers with you. I'm looking forward to cantering this week!
Monday, May 10, 2010
She's learned to trot through the trot poles...
She's learned to canter through a bounce, going left...
And then building up one side of the bounce...
Then raising both sides...
Gotta do it both ways...
She's learned to see a one stride distance between fences.
Now she's learning to jump a little bigger...
Tonight was the first time she jumped a cross bar this size. The funny thing is that the center of the cross rail was no bigger than the caveletti, but she still over jumps everything, and you can see when you pause the video that she's actually jumping higher than the tops of the barrels! Silly girl... the jump really was less than 2ft, and she gave herself a whole foot of clearance!
I hopped on her bareback again for just 10-15 minutes of walking around doing our bending and circles and stretching her nose out and down. I think she had a blast tonight!