Thursday, November 18, 2010

Trail class!

Of course this is several days to late to really hit what we did last weekend, but Sunday I hauled Lola out to a little schooling show for some trail classes! We had fun. The point was to get her out to a show environment, and give ourselves a different sort of challenge to keep things fresh. We were challenged and she was fresh! This is how I wanted her head..This is where she wanted to keep her head!

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

What to do with sweaty horses after dark...

I took Bear out for a fantastic trail ride today, but that meant that I didn't get back to the barn until almost 5pm. So inevitably it was getting dark and cold by the time I worked Lola. I was just planning on lunging with the vienna reins so that we could have a short and non sweat inducing work out, but that never works out like planned. She was doing so well tonight, and she was eager to offer the canter. This is huge for a horse that was convinced she couldn't canter a 20 meter circle in the indoor last winter because it was too small! She was coming down to the trot and just asking to canter again and again, and she was doing it so well that I let her. She clearly needed to blow off some steam after being left behind today, and they were such beautiful canter departs that it seemed like making the most out of the situation. It meant, however, that she was plenty hot and sweaty by the time we were done, and after 20 minutes of slowing it down gradually through trot then walking, walking, walking, she still was wet.

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

All of October in one go!

Well, I guess I might as well just do one attempt at recapping October, that way I can just move on to the current fun we're having without losing too much continuity.

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!