Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Thinking


I mentioned the not so nice auditors at this past weekend's clinics. I've been thinking a bit more about it. 

The vast majority of the negative comments were things like "Person x is going to get hurt" "I wouldn't trust that horse" "One time I saw that person get bucked off that horse - she is over horsed for sure" "Person y is going to ruin their horse, the horse looks mad". followed of course, by all the 'advice' they have for how they'd fix whatever issues they were seeing and and how person z will never be safe unless they follow program A, B, or C and ride only on a Tuesday afternoon while wearing green. A little obnoxious yes, and maybe part of it was them wanting to pump themselves up a little, but I know these people who were auditing. Their comments were way more reflective of themselves rather than the people they were criticizing. I think they were simply putting their own anxieties out there on those other people, rather than intending to be as harshly critical as I first felt they were being. Which makes me feel less angry about it, and more just kind of sad - after all,  I was at rock bottom and nervous to ride and had zero confidence in my own abilities not so very long ago.

My next thought: Oh my goodness is it WONDERFUL to own Bridget. Let's be honest, I didn't go talk to anyone about anything, my riding hasn't magically got any better technically, I haven't followed any special training program, I haven't even really worked that hard. What I did do is admit there was a problem and found the right horse for me as I am right this instant. That's it. The difference in my confidence and riding is obvious by my initial "WTF are you doing/ talking about?! Everyone is doing great and it's all under control" reaction to this weekend's auditor comments. I'm excited to go to clinics and look forward to being challenged. Rather than feeling physically ill the morning of clinics and events, I feel confident that in even if we do end up completely out of our depths in any given situation, we're a team that can get through it together.
Recent ridiculous outtake of our little team. I am so happy. Bridget not so much ha ha.

Next thought: NOBODY on that rail better talk bad about Bridget. Even when she is being very bad! Somehow this pony has grown on me to the point where even hearing the tiniest bit of 'advice' would have brought that peanut gallery a world of pain ;)

My further thought: I bought Bridget as a confidence booster trail riding pony. She's green, she's pushy, she's not the best example of a Sec D, she's not even overly nice to be around. But I felt good with her and that's what mattered and continues to matter. My plan was to take a time out from being 'serious' about riding, and just trail ride with my friends. Eventually I'd get back to riding and lessons on Ginger and sell Bridget on to a deserving home. There's a bit of a wrench in that plan though - Bridget continues to step up and surprise me. Trail riding pony actually looks kind of cute in our lessons. She also really likes to jump. I've got super attached to her. I'd like to think she's attached to me. There's no reason we can't do all the things I wanted to do with Ginger. Maybe we won't be as competitive. I'll be that short round person on the short round pony. But we'll both be having fun.
While I'm not at the point where I am ready to find Ginger another home, the option is swirling in the back of my mind a little. Maybe a lease, maybe a perfect placement with someone I know. Or maybe I'll just have the nicest pet horse ever :)
And the reason you don't get more candid shots of Ginger, She is a velcro horse pet and they all look like this. I'd have to go undercover and I'd need a zoom lens to take pics to prevent her seeing I was there and coming to say hi!
Or this. Hi Ginger :)




Monday, 27 April 2015

Brown Boots!

My much awaited boots finally arrived yesterday afternoon.


I ordered the Ariat Heritage boots in sienna, which is a nice dark chocolate brown. My hope is that the non black color will be slightly more trendy for when I stop on the way home from the barn or inevitably get sidetracked going to or from the barn. Am I dreaming in thinking they'll be a little less "obviously I just got back from riding horses" looking?

These boots are intended to replace my Mountain Horse Richmonds which I hate with a vengeance. I even went back and read everyone's reviews on those boots, and remain convinced I got a different style or a fake pair or something. The leather is so stiff and awful. I've been wearing them a minimum of 5x a week for the past 8 months, not to mention for showing and lessons (at least 2x a week) for 2 years prior. And those boots STILL look basically new, and they look good on me, but they still give me the most horrible blisters if I even think about wearing them for more than an hour or so without vetwrap. They also stretched over time and are huge around the calves - like I can keep my keys, phone, gloves, whatever in there while I ride.  A few months ago, G was like "Ouch!, where did that nasty blister on your heel come from?" My boots. "Oh yuck, look at that scar on your toe" The boots. "AND the ones around your ankles?" Yep. At least they finally dropped and stopped rubbing the backs of my knees a few months ago? Tragic boot saga somewhat shortened, G offered to buy me a new pair if I was going to be too cheap to do it myself. Yay! Maybe I can wear sandals some day again ;)

First impressions of my new Ariats? The footbed feels great, although I agree with the reviews that say to size up half a size over your normal. The color is exactly as it appears in their photo. The leather quality and zippers are way better than the Mountain Horses. Don't get me wrong, they're still not super soft or anything like that, but I feel like they'll break in quickly. As a short person, they are definitely too tall to just walk around in all day right away, but I feel like they will fit perfectly once they drop.

What I don't like? The calf is shaped a little funny - super slim and flattering through the ankle, then it's almost slightly big right through the biggest past of my leg, then really slim and almost too tiny around the top. It's a bit of an exaggerated/odd profile that makes the outline less smooth than I'd prefer. These are wide calf boots though, so tinier people than me might not have this issue.

Verdict: Decent boots for the price, and my inital impression is a good one.

Cowboy Clinic Recap

It was COLD out there! After a fun morning auditing the ground work portion of the clinic (must buckle down and do more groundwork with the Midge) I popped up the road to grab Midge for our after lunch riding session.

As soon as I put Midge's halter on, I knew we were in for a mare/evil pony kind of day. She definitely woke up this morning on the wrong side of the bed. She was not super interested in standing still to be tacked up, so we had a discussion about that. She was super spooky and 'up' on our short hack down the road. We had a chat about that. I tried not to have visions of a repeat terrible clinic, but  by the time I got to the ring and was attempting to ride a super spooky,quick, pushy, giraffe, generally pissy pony I was getting more than a little worried. I was also kicking myself for not learning my lesson from the last clinic and bringing a longe line with me!
I did get new pics, but am waiting for them to be sent. Here's an old one of Cowboy and Bridget

Beyond not forgetting your longe line, there's definitely something to be learned from all the above. When Midge gets outside her comfort zone (overnight stay at a strange barn, new arena to ride in) she reverts back to all those bad habits we thought we had a handle on and that all basically boil down to her being being very pushy. That of course means I haven't adequately addressed the basic issue. I can't ignore the little things because they're going to escalate to bigger problems every time she's feeling overwhelmed. I want the same (cooperative!) pony anywhere and everywhere I go.

So, what does a cowboy do with a generally uncooperative and pushy pony? Put them on a circle of course. Take away the rider 'handholding' and make them work! In this case I was instructed to drop my outside rein and use only a light inside rein to tip her nose in slightly. Midge was expected to quietly trot around a 15m circle and just soften in my hand and around my leg and look after herself. Genius. By just using an inside rein and putting her on a circle in trot, we took away Midge's power as well as her desire to tip her nose outside and look for more interesting things. If she got quick or tried to run out through my outside leg, my inside rein got stronger and she had to circle smaller and yield her hindquarters a bit (think one rein stop but not actually stopping, more using it to spiral in and then releasing and leg yielding back out to the circle). If she fell in, she met up with my inside leg, but no outside rein there to hold her up. And tiny circles are hard, of course. So simple, so effective. It really got her more honest about looking after herself and just doing her job. By the end she was trotting nicely around in a perfect 15m circle, coming from behind and in self carriage.  Off my seat and leg. Wow. Midge was pissed at losing the fight she wanted in such a non confrontational way, but I was pretty happy! This goes against every 'inside leg to outside' rein dressage lesson I've ever taken, but it was exactly what we needed in the moment, and a tool I will be using again.  Our homework is to build up to a canter using both flexion and counter flexion. Cowboy is all about giving your horse a job ( trot a certain sized circle at a certain speed, canter a straight line, whatever) and having them be honest enough to keep doing that job without any nagging until you say otherwise. Yes, please, I want my horse more like that!

Next up, we were given poles set in a 10`square box and practiced circling in the box. That`s not an issue for Midget ponies, so we moved on to just keeping her front legs in the box, and her back legs out, then sidepassing around the square. Fun test of your lateral aids, and again using my reins was discouraged except where completely necessary. Midge was really wanting to pick a fight and give up/suck back to the right, but we got it done pretty well after a bit of a discussion.

We finished with our square built of poles. The next exercise was to straddle the pole - (ie left side of your horse outside the box, right side in the box. Harder than it sounds, and we gave Midge many pats for leg yielding in and quietly standing staddling the pole.

Clinicians feedback: Midge is a compact, powerful horse with a lot of opinions. Her default with anything new is to sulk and say 'I can't/won't do that'.  I am not a giant person. I need to take her power away from her. I need to work smarter now before she figures out she's physically stronger than me and makes my life miserable in the future by learning to be heavy in my hand and on my leg. Funny how she went from sucked back and dull a few months ago to too hot/strong and forward now, but as he explains it makes perfect sense - she's trying to make her life as easy as possible and horses commonly go from one evasion to another in an attempt to lessen the pressure when the previous evasion stops working for them!

Random to break the text
While I'm disappointed Midge didn't bring her A game, (and I freely admit to being a little embarrassed after talking up all the good work she's been doing) it's always good to have worst pony show up on the day you have great help available!

Final thoughts: I really, really appreciated this lesson. Bridget brought her worst, exactly like in the second day of the dressage clinic, yet unlike the dressage clinic, this time pony had to work more mentally than physically and we got some good results. I'm left feeling like we made the best of a bad pony day, and more importantly, that with continued effort, pony might think twice about bringing a bad attitude in the first place. I feel a lot more confident about handling our worst case effectively. I like how this was all achieved with common sense - making her work honestly, taking away her opportunity to bring a physical fight, and rewarding her immediately for the right decision. I know most, if not all, the above isn't groundbreaking stuff and is just common sense and exercises a lot of trainers use. It was a great and timely reminder for me though! I find it's easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of micromanaging everything and 'riding every stride' and always being 'busy' actively giving some kind of correction or encouragement. I like how cowboy expects his horses to just do the job and the default for the rider is to just quietly be there.

As for the peanut gallery, I have some thoughts there too...why oh why do people have to be so very insecure. The negative commentary about every horse and rider there was distracting and really off putting. In between trying to diffuse it with compliments for all the riders, I tried to keep to myself and just watch and learn. No one is perfect. The people being talked about are you know, actually riding their horse in a clinic in an effort to learn. How can you say anything bad about that? I don't condone nasty gossip or put downs at the best of times, but at a clinic? Yuck, it reflects so poorly on everyone. The power plays and games are unbelievable and so unfortunate. The clinician obviously couldn't hear, but I'm going to say something to the organizer - while I don't think the majority of riders were aware they were being talked about so harshly, it made the auditing section kind of a miserable place to be.
 
Midge got a new rain sheet. She's camped outside this weekend in the rain, so I needed one ASAP and found one that's  do-able at the tack store. Going to take CobJockey's recommendations for cob friendly sizing and find a better  fitting one online - as you can see this one works, but the drop is pretty long on her,







Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Three Hour Tour*

*Except rather than a nice desert island, Bridget finds herself back at the boarding barn she hated so much from our last clinic outing :)

As the title would indicate, rather than trailering in for our clinic, I opted to ride in the day ahead and enjoy the sunshine. I was expecting about a 2-2.5 hour ride, based on walking most of the 13km/8mile distance. The ground is good in places, but the majority is pretty rocky for a barefoot horse so walking is best. Not to mention Midge has a big day tomorrow so we don't need to tire her out! I heard a rumor the other riders in my group want to mostly work on problems at the canter, so Midge will have her work cut out for her if she wants to keep up with the big horses!
Lots of miles along this hydro easement

A lake

So many huge puddles along here- come riding with me if your horse has an issue with water :)




I ended up running into a few other riders on the trail who were headed to the same general area I was, so had the unexpected treat of some company. Can I just say one more time how lucky I am to have Bridget? Three other horses she's never met, two dogs tagging along, and she was totally chill with the whole thing. We rode with them for a couple of hours. They were very slow, hence the reason my ride ended up closer to 3 hours - but we were in no rush and company is always a treat! When they opted for the loop home and Bridget had to continue on her own I half expected some dramatics, but there was nothing...she was perfectly content to continue on solo even though we were far away from home on a 'strange' trail.
Finally some softer ground

She rolled into her weekend home happy and fresh, barely sweating at all and no worse for wear. She settled in without a peep, so hopefully that's a sign of how she'll be all weekend. Since we are sans Ginger and her drama this time, I'm hoping Bridget won't worry as much about her missing friends as she did at the last clinic.
Sneaking up through a clear cut to hook onto a logging road

I'm looking forward to my ride tomorrow! I kind of like our cowboy clinician - he's growing on me and is the polar opposite of the dressage lady we had last time. He's super encouraging and positive and has a 'get it done the best you/your horse can' attitude. His resume includes stunt riding and training horses for/in the movies and TV, as well as some rodeo stuff and a whole lot of starting baby horses. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's going to be a bit different than out last clinic lol
Finally, follow this road down to the city limits and our temporary accommodations

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Good And Bad

The good: Midge was AMAZING in our lesson yesterday. She's really stepped up and is bringing her game face to every session in the ring.
Sorry, no pics of the actual lesson

 The bad: I need to focus more on slowing her down and steadying her. Bigger strides rather than faster. We have the forward so no need to do the forward at all costs thing anymore.

The good: Once I focused on sitting up and slowing my posting we had what felt like a really nice trot.

The good: Really excellent balanced and immediate canter departs. Pony can easily canter 20m circles now on either lead.

The bad: She gets tired quickly and things get inverted, rushy and leany. I need to do a balanced transition back to trot before that happens.

The good: Pony is fearless over the jumps and into grids and we had some really excellent run throughs
Giant carrots for all the good ponies. Ginger inhaled hers, Bridget chose to nibble it like corn on the cob

The bad: Yours truly needs to work on her skillz. We set up a small grid and cross rail on the center line with the goal of trotting in and cantering out, circling on whichever lead she got. Too much going on at once for me and after mostly failing to get a canter in a good spot, baby pony got really forward and excited jumped me out of the tack not once, but twice. She's quite enthusiastic right now and took my canter cue a couple of strides out as her cue to jump and left really long and got me by surprise. The second time it happened we had added some poles in front to help her out, but she took a flying leap over those and turned the little grid into a spread.   The wheels started falling off for me after that because I was down on myself for catching her in the mouth twice. I was so focused on just staying out of her way that I was failing to ride effectively and not getting the job done.

The good: S was happy to hop on. And immediately got surprised by the pony power and left behind over their first run through lol. She's a great rider though and followed up with a couple of nice trips on a wiggly green over enthusiastic pony :)
Extra fresh grass for good pony

The good: Jumper turns? What, since when does Midge know how to do that? Riding off my outside aids for the win!

The good: Watching someone else ride my horse and being pleasantly surprised by the changes since the last time. Midge is almost looking fancy, which is completely unexpected to me. I see the pictures and assume we caught a good moment - neat to watch in person and see there is much more good than bad right now! She's not an overly sporty pony and to be honest, not a great feeling ride. These cobs are tricky though, even the plainest ones seem to have surprising athleticism and presence. Don't get me wrong, she's still super green and we have a ton of work ahead - it's just neat to see glimpses of what the future might hold :)
My previous suspicions re: Piglet proven correct. Why roll in the pasture when the manure pile is accessible? :)



Tuesday, 21 April 2015

West Coast Spring

I'll let you in on a little secret - I love the sort of rain we get in this part of the world. Don't get me wrong; warm, sunny days are hard to beat, but there's something to be said for a quiet west coast rainy day, particularly in the spring. It's so fresh, and the smell is amazing with all that new greenery filling the air with oxygen. I'm more than content to put on my best rain gear and head outside, even though by now I'm certain there isn't any rain wear invented that can keep me totally dry all day!

Sadly for me, no one else was feeling the love and my lesson was cancelled.
Bridget says "nope, not going out there!"

As do the barn cats 

And Ginger

Ginger's rain sheet obviously not a go for the Midge lol - I see some shopping in my future if I have any hope of keeping her clean. I have my doubts that even a smaller size in this brand won't hang below her hocks and knees - sorry Midge, looks like a career as a blanket model is unlikely! 

And...this is why the blanket was considered - a break in the weather and everyone else ventured to the pasture. Midge opted to stay behind and dig through the composted manure looking for who knows what. I suspect the black dirt I am currying off of her can only come from this place too - no mud or dirt in the fields at the moment! Piglet - I can only imagine her joy when that compost gets spread in the pasture lol.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Rolling Along

Since our last update, Midge has been out for a long trail ride, as well as a short ride to the ring with a buddy yesterday. She also had a couple of well deserved days off!


I notice we're still struggling a bit with sharing the ring. It's not dramatic or bad, but she's constantly monitoring where the other horse(s) are, and like the jumps, there's a definite pony magnet effect happening. Hopefully our clinic next weekend (in a group setting) will prove useful helping with that or at a minimum give us more miles with other horses in the arena. I'm planning to ride in the day ahead and camp out, then ride home the day after. That's a few miles for the baby pony so she'll have a pretty relaxed schedule this week. She'll have today off, then I have my regular lesson tomorrow then will give her Wed/Thurs off to charge up the batteries! Ginger may have to get called back into service lol.

Overall though, I'm still super pleased with little Midge - she's way more consistent, and these days it all feels way less green than it has been.

In other news, I have a potential job lined up in a nearby town. It would mean more big changes, but it is a good compromise - I can keep my 'real' career and come home weekends and holidays. G could visit me on his days off. To keep it horse related, the area has a couple of excellent coaches and boarding options, and coincidentally hosts the show series I was going to travel to this summer. Obviously, I'd rather stay home but I'm not getting many hours at the job I'm at. We're OK with that, but I do love being financially independent and am easily bored if I'm not working.  I think I'll be happy whichever way it works out, but if I'm honest I'd really prefer to stay home and somehow magic up some more hours delivering the mail! :)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Go Bridget Go



Just a couple of pics and a tiny video of Bridget jumping. Enjoy!










Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Best Lesson

Subtitle: Hard work really does pay off!

Our lesson started out on a high because Coach S passed us cantering along the side of road (we were late, oops) and had to look twice because she thought I was riding Ginger. Because "since when does Bridget have a canter like THAT?!" (Insert huge smiles)
Floaty Ginger canter video still from forever ago.

After having a quick chat with S about where we`ve been at this week (so much canter but a wipeout, excited pony loves jumping, but steering and softness a bit lacking. Also, my back hurts and I feel like I'm bracing my shoulder) we agreed flatwork was the order of the day, with some baby jumps to finish as a reward if pony behaved.

We started out with some haunches in at the walk. It`s time to increase the difficulty by asking for her to be straighter through her neck and really step under with her hinds. No issues there, so we moved on to some rollbacks (trot to halt parallel to the long side, then push the shoulders around -aka turn on the haunches towards the fence-, essentially doing a 180, then trotting out again). I know those are more of a western thing, but they`re really excellent for shoulder control, and force you to do accurate transitions in order to set yourself up right (you can`t let  your horse fall on the forehand or stop crooked or your turn will stink!) My old dressage coach used to do a similar `square`exercise, only difference I can see being squares only require 90 degree turns and come dressage approved  ;) S always has us start with exercises to `check in` on how much control we have of our four corners, and then usually builds exercises from there to address whatever she`s seeing.
Pictures are just recent randoms to break up my giant rambly post

 Since today`s `check in`showed some stiffness in Bridget`s neck to the right, we moved on to some trot spirals, in which my feel in the rollback exercise became more apparent. Pony is tipping her nose in and bracing to the right and it just generally feels yucky. S`s opinion is since this is a newish thing she might just be sore herself and/or reacting to my stiff shoulder. Rather than keep doing it `wrong`and teaching her to brace, we came back to a walk, then the halt, and simply asked her to bring her nose around and stretch correctly through her neck without leaning on me. Mission accomplished with much groaning and complaining from pony, so we respected her opinion of it being pretty hard today and left well enough alone.

We moved on to rising trot on the rail, then some leg yields at the trot from centerline to wall. As with the haunches in, I was encouraged to stop treating her like a baby and expect her to be straighter (ie correct angle, lead less with her shoulders) and stay on the bit throughout with a nice tempo. Previously, we`ve been asking properly for a few strides, then giving her a release. She knows what I`m asking, and was surprisingly balanced and game to try playing like the big horses. I was very happy with her. After a couple of lovely efforts, we upped the ante and asked for canter once we leg yielded to the wall. And boom, beautiful canter departs. Asking her to bend or be on the bit at the canter after the first few strides is still very much a work in progress, but S was super happy with the effort given, as was I. We have a canter, at last! The refinements will come. As a side note, S got a good laugh at how our impulsion magically increased as we headed towards my little jumps that were still set up in the middle, then lost enthusiasm as we passed them by. Since the ring is quite small, the effect is pretty funny and apparent, like a giant pony magnet :)

We finished up by doing the same figure eight pattern over crossrails I had set up from my last ride. We just trotted them since Bridget was excited to finally get to go over them and we more wanted to remind her they are no big deal and continue working on keeping her balanced through changes of bend and being a little less heavy in my hand. In  my baiased opinion, I think she rocked it - we had a gorgeous floaty trot and she was really pushing along with her hind end and carrying herself - the earlier stiffness was gone and my shoulder thanked her. 

I know this is a big long detailed lesson recap and you`re probably wondering what exactly gives it best lesson status. I hope you`ll understand when I say it was all in how my ride "felt". It felt like she was totally with me a lot of the time. It felt like it was effortless, now and then. It felt she was carrying herself for minutes at a time. No more being excited about a moment - there were multiple minutes! And best of all, it felt like she was committed to giving me her best, After all our struggles this winter, that's a huge and unexpected treat. I'm sure our readers have read between the lines and figured out just how tough and independent (and frustrating!) this little mare can be, so even the small successes mean a huge amount to me. To have a few breakthroughs all in the same lesson qualifies for 'best ever' status!



Monday, 13 April 2015

Progress

Now that Midge has decided cantering is a thing, with every ride she is showing huge improvements. She's finally able to canter and think about my aids all at the same time and she's getting really confident. After months of teeny baby steps, this is a huge treat!

I feel like her shape has changed substantially these past few months - she's much less the round thelwell and more the sporty Sec D, Will have to do a before and after. People have been commenting she looks like she's grown, but it's just her topline looking a little more impressive and her belly a little more toned, giving the illusion of longer legs/height.
 In an effort to be somewhat prepped for a show season, we returned to the ring today for another ride (also there is a hungry nasty cougar in the area and I'm paranoid he'll jump on us and bite me if I go on the trail alone. Irrational, but whatever - the ring is my happy place at the moment :)
Please no cougars here, thanks

I had planned on doing a bit of flatwork, but Midge warmed up so well and was so soft and responsive I kept it short so as to not bore her to death. I put my little jumps back up as a treat for her instead. We trotted them in a figure eight pattern. She's all about figuring out stuff like that so after about two reps she was trying to cut corners and take the direct route. So we had to pause for some proper 20 m circles and chill out a bit. Continuing on with her theme of being super agreeable, she immediately got the message and stopped trying to dart over at the crossrail after every turn, offering instead some of the nicest and softest 20m circles I've ridden on her. She was being really honest about staying where I put her, no bulging or falling in. As a reward, we returned to our little pattern and upped the ante by cantering out over the x. Pony was super smart about her leads, even the right one was no big deal. To keep it easy and positive for her, I asked for nice big canter circles around the jumps rather than our little figure eight and she happily obliged. At one point on a circle on her stronger side I felt her lock on to a jump and sort of offer to go there. Why not? I thought, and on the next pass I went a little wider and set her up a little more carefully and pony happily went across the diagonal and cantered her first baby crossrail. I was so pleased, particularly as she swapped leads over the fence and didn't try to rush after, thinking to continue our little figure eight pattern. I gratefully declined that offer and instead circled and let her know what a good pony she is, We ended on that excellent note :)
The obligatory posed pic

 For the record, I was thinking I'd send Midge to a pro to be started over fences once her canter was stronger. My experience jumping totals some local stuff as a teenager and 8 months of lessons last year. Obviously not a resume for starting baby ponies jumping. But I feel pretty darn comfortable right now and we have S on hand for lessons and help and riding if need be. The people around me seem to have faith in me, and I have faith in the pony, so for now she stays home and we remain in it together :)
Modelling the world's cheapest bridle :)

I do realize this has turned into Bridget's blog lately. Ms Ginger is doing just fine and enjoying the spring weather and pasture, along with her daily grooming. She also trotted out sound yesterday!  Now to find the motivation to get her going again for the eleventy billionth time. As you can see, she's looking for something to do :)

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Shoulders Back, Look Ahead

 Our lesson is postponed to Tuesday, since the ever cool S is teaching a fire fighting course all weekend! S's course may come in handy for me as well because Ms Bridget was on fire herself all weekend. I have no idea what's got into her -it's been unseasonably warm and she's sweaty and miserable in the remnants of her winter coat. You'd think that would mean a slow and lazy pony. Yet she's the opposite. My job as a rider is slowing the little mare down and getting her to relax. She's all about leaping off my leg and doing her very best giraffe impression. I think what's happened is she's finally decided canter is fun and figured out she can do it and I'll be pleased. So right now in her mind the answer to everything is to canter. Leg yield = canter, moving shoulders = canter, asking for bend = canter, etc, etc. She was also super interested in taking me to the 'jumps' I left in the ring and was a bit excited about that. I've created a monster :) I'm not overly concerned since she is at least thinking forward and interested in figuring out what I want, which is a million times preferable to disinterested and lazy. We can work with this new Bridget!

Just a zoomed in shot of her cute little face
We spent a lot of time doing circles and spirals on Saturday, reminding pony she can work on the bit and bend around my leg all at the same time. Apparently that sort of stuff goes out the window when you are a newly invented racing and jumping pony :) I had left my jumps as trot poles on the ground and got a pretty exuberant leap over the first, so we did that a few times until she realized it was just a trot pole and actually not exciting at all.

When I finally did ask for a canter, it was a really nice depart, but gradually gained speed until it was pretty quick. As the rider, I was thinking of letting her go forward and staying out of her way, and failed to correctly read the situation. Unfortunately, baby pony wiped out around the corner. The good thing is that she stood up quickly and was totally unharmed. Also, after hating myself in the previous post's photos, I was super focused on keeping my hands and head up and my shoulders back, which meant what could have been a nasty rider fall was prevented  I ended up with both feet on the ground, but stayed right in the tack.  Funny how proper equitation is also effective and safe :) After a walk and trot to confirm we were all no worse for wear, we had a lovely (and much more careful) canter. It seems baby pony actually can sit her butt down and rebalance in the corners when asked - who'd have thought? :) We're going to hack up to the ring again today - fingers crossed she isn't stiff after yesterday's misadventure.

From the other day - Hunchy McHuncherson needs to sit up straight!
I'm still unsure whether we're going to hit the first show of our little season, but we're prepping as if we are planning to attend.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Motivated

Here in the middle of nowhere, our little equestrian world has three types of people:

1. The people who have their horses as pets and rarely ride
2. The people that trail ride
3. The people that show

That's probably a somewhat normal breakdown of horse lovers, except I find it odd that numbers 2 and 3 rarely cross paths here, I'd also venture to say group 2 has a bit to say about group 3's decisions which doesn't help narrow the gap. Horse people + small town = about a million judgements. I can think of maybe a handful of people who train and show their horses but also aren't adverse to a trail ride now and then. The area I board in is full of trail riders, and Bridget and I have lately been facing the first world problem of having to tell people we aren't into a ride with them because we are going to the ring to practice instead. We're turning to the dark side lol. With spring well and truly here, I'm wanting to scale back the trail rides to twice a week or so, and increase the schooling sessions to maybe 3 times. Of course we have a nice 20 min each way hack to the ring so Midge still gets her time checking out the neighbourhood on the buckle!

Anyway, no exciting news to report, so far this week we've done 2 rides a the ring and one big trail ride. Of course we also have lessons ahead on the weekend! We're also 2 weeks out from our clinic we signed up for, and a month out from my tentative first show date.  Midge has been forward and happy, but we're still struggling with the giraffe impressions at the canter. Pretty sure that's just a strength issue and will come with time, just as it did in the trot. I'll leave you with a few pics of yesterday's ride:
Looking fancy!


Our little jump set up - I wanted to get her cantering out and thought we might have more space (and a helpful corner) if we set up on the diagonals.
Looking so pretty in the trot these days

Whee!


This is our typical canter right now :)

 Finally, G did't get any little jump shots but he did accidently shoot a 3 second video instead. It's kinda cute lol:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

TOABH: 18 Things

Happy Birthday Archie!

This week, Beka asks us to list 18 things we love about our horse.

Since we all know the million and one things I love about Ginger (and to save you reading 36 things), we'll pick the new girl for this one. I'm not even going to attempt a rhyme like Beka, so you get the less creative version :)

In no particular order, the things I love about Bridget:

1. I can take her anywhere and put her in any situation, and only rarely does she get upset or create any drama. Even then, she's cute so everyone forgives her.
Maybe her 10th ride or so, and she was cool to head to the lake for a swim with a big group of horses.

2. She happily drinks water on the trail. Puddles, creeks, lakes, whatever, pony is sensible and drinks.

3. She's scared of very little and trusts her rider if she's unsure of something.

4. She's kind. I can let anyone handle her and not worry.

5. She's wickedly smart and game for just about anything.


Particularly sleeping.



And eating.




6. If I have one of those rides where I hop on and regret not longeing first, it's not a potentially life altering mistake.

7. She stands tied wherever I tie her. No fussing.
Except she does know how to untie herself. But she doesn't leave the scene so we're cool.

8. She's actually got some kinda fancy moves hiding in that pony body.

9. She doesn't care what the horses around her are doing. Or even if they like her.
She's a gangster.

10. She's sturdy and tough, and an easy keeper - minimal feed and no shoes!

11. Bay with chrome. My weakness.

12. Not mare-ish (opinionated, yes, but fingers crossed, no crazy in heat nastiness)

13. She has a super luxurious mane and tail. And will stand for hours while you groom. My Little Pony for an adult!

Groom me more, please!
14. Comfy to ride bareback on.

15. If you fall, it's not that far, and chances are you weren't going very fast and deserved it!

16. Also, re: the above, she stops and waits for you, increasing the chances of successfully hopping back on and pretending nothing happened.

17. She's 'helpful'. Helps set up jumps, helps put on her halter or bridle, lines herself up with the mounting block or gate and waits. That sort of stuff.
"Human minion - put that one over there with the other one"

18. Super keyed into her people. Happy to stand around with you or follow you around with minimal supervision.Tries to get into the barn and open gates to come visit her people. G says she's more dog than horse.