Thursday, 29 October 2015

Win Some, Lose Some

After our wonderfully fun jumping lesson earlier in the week, the easy option would have been to build on that via another jumping lesson.
Not super relevant, but Bridget's attitude of late: PARTY(let her jump!) or else.
Sadly for Bridget, I have this idea in my head that I'd like us to be eventers. So some dressaging is necessary. Since Bridget can view flat work as an all out act of war on my part, I had a sneaking feeling this lesson was going to be painful. And so it was. The cool kids might say she forgot how to horse. I'd be inclined to switch that up and instead say she remembered EXACTLY how to Pony. With a capital P, obviously ;)

I'll save the world the tragic recap. I'm just going to hide out and try to forget this one ever happened.

In other win some, lose some news, it's just not going to work out for me to go the foxhunt this weekend. I was so excited to go, but I'm just way too over committed/poor. I also need to actually spend quality time with my guy and our adorable cat, BK. (A terrible name; almost a year on and now definitely adult sized, I still call him/he answers to the Baby Kitty. Waiting until the perfect name came to me obviously was a terrible plan. Out of desperation/embarrassment at the vet I called him BK, so it's official. Just imagine it stands for something really, really cool)

Too dignified for his name
Stolen from a fellow blogger (I think?). Love it for obvious reasons...if you know the source, please let me know - I'd love to credit you/find a printable copy for my wall :)
Anyway, I can't have horsey weekends every weekend! On the good news side, it's looking like we'll be able to attend the same show Ginger and her trainer are going to Nov 8th. It's a 2 phase event (dressage and show jumping) near the big city. Depending on weather/time we might be able to do a little xc schooling too. It should be fun, provided we can remember how to dressage in less than 10 days!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Flying

Monday night: my favorite because it's lesson night! There were 4 of us at tonight's lesson, all adults. EC likes to keep groups at 3 maximum, but seriously, 4 organized adults worked great and felt way less chaotic than sharing with even 2 kids. That's obviously just my feeling though!
Wondering if trainer got her inspiration from the Jim Wofford clinic this weekend. Clinic notes coming soon!
 EC had some gymnastic exercises planned for the night. Our little group has sort of a varied amount of confidence and experience, so starting off small is a must! First off, ground poles...7 of them spaced as canter poles. Midge had to really stretch to make the strides and fit in with the big horses, but she got there. Next, the middle pole was turned into a teeny cross rail. Midge got excited about that and I had a bit of a job keeping her canter consistent, but again, not a big problem. Next, the second pole also got replaced by a cross rail. No issues. Since a couple of our lesson mates were having a bit of trouble, the exercise had to stay the same, but I was told to ride it without my reins (arms out like I'm flying- ha ha all I could think is that cheesy scene from the Titanic movie). Pony straightness actually still was a thing without reins. Also, I learned that at some point in the last year my balance has magically improved over fences. No hands = zero problem.

Lots of poles
Next up, a third cross rail was added to the end of the line. So, canter pole, cross rail, one stride (with canter pole) to cross rail, and another one stride ( with canter pole) to the final jump, and one last pole after that. Again, Midge was a star, but still a little over enthusiastic. No reins went fine, but the steering got slightly dodgy coming out of it! Everyone else was pretty much done, so EC raised it all up to "serious" Midge height (center of x's maybe 2'3"). Midge jumped in way big and we had a bit if a moment getting out over the second, but the third rode great.  Back around one final time and Midge was taking no chances, way over jumping but being very careful with her feet over the ground poles and letting me make adjustments as needed. Good pony! Confident, but not rushing - just what we wanted. Great practice for me too, because everything comes up rather quickly and I still tend to get in a bit of a muddle and jump ahead. This really forced me to sit up and wait! Pony loved it too, and felt super confident. EC says she loves building big x's for that reason - visually, they look imposing, particularly in a gymnastic line, but realistically if you stay straight over the center they aren't big at all. Gives everyone lots of confidence!
Hand grazing for good ponies
All in all, this was my favorite Bridget ride in many months :)

Monday, 26 October 2015

Jec Ballou Clinic Notes

Wow, what a busy weekend! I think it's safe to say I'll be staying home next year - the place was jam packed and auditing was made super difficult by people's need to chatter the whole way through. Love that there were a ton of clueless people that felt it necessary to critique not only the riders, but some of the clinicians themselves! Nobody talks bad about Jim Wofford on my watch! (Just kidding...sorta) Horse people. They kind of suck sometimes.

Still, for a mere $40 weekend pass there was much to be learned...you just had to choose your clinicians (and seat) wisely! I did manage to catch almost all the eventing, and a recap is coming soon. For now, here's some notes on the Jec Ballou (author of Equine Fitness and 101 Dressage Exercises - both great books IMO) session I managed to watch.


The Topic: 5 Rules To A Looser Horse

The Purpose: As horses get fitter, muscle development can actually cause them to be less flexible. (Strength can equal tightness) It's important to develop and stretch all muscles - too often we focus on only the topline.

Rule 1: Intervals. 
Can be as minimal as 2 seconds "on" and less than or equal to that amount "off". Like humans, exercising using intervals creates better fitness, and also lowers the risk of "overdoing it" and struggling/using the incorrect muscles/posture to compensate - where the horse feels the need to cheat and look for an easier way out.
Case in point: Circles. Awesome exercise, great for stretching outside of horse, but people overdo it. Do one or two circles as correctly as possible, then reward by going forward on a straight line.  
Alternate exercise shown: quarter turns on forehand and haunches followed by walking out on straight line. Gets horse to either lift shoulders or hindquarters,("on" interval) rewards with walking out ("off" interval)

Rule 2: Let the exercises work for you.
Don't fight with your horse, that will only create tension. Instead, pick an exercise to do the work for you.  Noted here: rider fitness just as important as horses fitness - rider needs to be fit enough to work through the exercise.
Sample exercise: A diamond pattern. Can walk, trot or canter. Focus on small, accurate turns, then allow forward and straight to next turn. the small, precise turns work as mini intervals and don't give the horse as much time to brace/suck back as a full turn. If horse is fighting/struggling with the turns, don't pick a fight, keep riding straight ie aim 'through' the fence, let the arena fence help turn you. 
There was a visible difference in all the horses with this, particularly in canter. There's really very little opportunity for them to get "stuck" and it seemed particularly good for the one horse who wanted to go behind the bit. There was also a more spooky mare who seemed to like the predictability of it and relaxed very noticably.
Another exercise: circle of death. Poles regulate pace, help stop bracing on circle by interrupting stride.

Rule 3: Learn to love the canter.
Canter stretches and contracts body with each stride, and is great for tension in the lower back, hamstrings, and scapula. It doesn't matter if canter is not your horses best gait, your horse will still benefit. Canter as soon as possible in training, don't wait until you have a perfect trot or a balanced transition. Only cantering is going to build up the fitness and balance for a better canter.

Rule 4: Modify your position based in what the horse needs.
A technically correct dressage position is not always helping your horse be supple and relaxed. Examples : getting up in two point to encourage horses to lift/ use their backs, riding with hands lower and wider on younger horses to help be more clear.

Rule 5: Modify your horse's position.
Change your horse's  posture - don't ask your horse to be in any one "frame" for more than a few minutes at a time. Encourage them to stretch, come up a little, move out, collect, etc. changing their posture frequently helps prevent tension, bracing, and soreness.

Thoughts: The clinician was very calm and quiet, assertive, but generally very positive. Nothing groundbreaking here, but I liked her and it was very helpful to see the suggested exercises demonstrated, particularly with the hotter horses - there was a rodeo going on in the adjacent arena with cattle being herded, bronc riders, and much random shouting and air horns, so you can imagine how uptight some of the horses were at the start. Neat to see them all visibly loose and relaxed and enjoying life only a few minutes into the session. There were a couple of horses who showed big improvement in their general way of going too. One in particular started out pretty fancy, but his gaits got even more impressive as the hour went on. I know in theory we should all be schooling and warming up/warming down using these concepts, but at least in my experience it's pretty rare to see an entire session focusing on it. Super helpful and I'm glad I took the time to watch.
I Didn't escape the shopping/trade show unscathed either - Bridget models her new blanket. Not the treats she was hoping for, but you can't win them all, B.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Busy, Busy

Bridget got her saddle fitted today. Since we've come from a land barren of saddle fitters I was honestly a little nervous a pro would look at my saddle and deem it not worthy. Such a relief to have her say it fits pretty good! She adjusted the stuffing a little and my (Stubben) saddle I love so much will be with us a long while yet. The fitter is actually a County rep, so I'm relieved all around...if there was any saddle I loved more than the one I ride in now it was the County stabilizer I rode in a couple of summers ago. Luckily, the Stubben stays and temptation can be held at bay for the foreseeable future.  

My lesson tonight was also all kinds of awesome. I got to share with trainer's 9 year old son, who like any little boy obviously much prefers jump lessons over dressage. Jumping it was, then!

(As a quick aside, any of you struggling with confidence issues - share a lesson with a wild, enthusiastic kid. It's fantastic. Seriously, this kid has a need for speed and gets all sorts of weird approaches and wrong distances and it still all works out fine. He managed to fall off once and got up exclaiming "Look at me, I got "sanded"! There's sand in my pants! I'm all beat up!", followed by crazy laughter because apparently even falling is fun when you're a rough and tumble little boy. Enthusiasm aside, as an adult I also didn't want the tiny child to kick my ass so I stepped up my game. Also, I had to concentrate on not saying bad words...all positives if you ask me ;)

With the kid sideshow over, Bridget and I got down to business. She made me proud by repeatedly reading the gymnastic line right (canter pole to vertical then one stride to an oxer) and being responsive and adjustable through it. We then added in two fences in an alternating figure right pattern. Midge obviously had to try very hard to make the tighter turns and get her leads but she did it and I was happy with her. The fences are only about 2'3", but she is super careful and fun. She's currently WAY over jumping everything, which is exciting for everyone but me. As a rider newer to jumping it certainly creates some challenges for me :) I don't think I'm riding dangerously or terribly, but it's certainly a little awkward and there is much room for improvement. Still, I am pleased she has a bit of aptitude and scope in that chunky pony body. Now her rider just needs to catch up!

Looking forward: 

Mane Event (Jim Wofford clinic auditing) this weekend.

Next lesson: Monday

Next show: November 7th (Ginger) I'm going to make every effort to be there in person to cheer her on!



Monday, 19 October 2015

Shows, Clinics, Lessons

I've been a somewhat uninspired blogger of late, even though plenty has been going on in my little horsey part of the universe. Here's a quick recap:


- I'm proud of Ms Ginger and her trainer/rider M, who went out and won at Ginger's first show ever! They got a 68.864% in their training level test and that was good enough for a win. Go Ginger! Very short video (via facebook) HERE

-G got called into work on Saturday, so what was a girl to do but go and audit a clinic. Loved catching up with old friends, and loved the clinician. She comes from a dressage background and was just so kind and positive. Every single person, regardless of training level or experience, was encouraged to get their horse working relaxed and over the back prior to anything else. I really enjoyed her emphasis on riding with a looser rein, particularly while training 'hard' things, allowing the horses to really be forward and use themselves. Every horse there seemed to really benefit from her and became super relaxed and supple. She was also a huge advocate for lots of walk breaks on a loose rein. I was left wishing I had brought one of my girls along and ridden rather than audited.

-My second lesson last week was generally productive, but Midge wasn't playing nice. She's been quite naughty in general, I guess. We're back to only myself or trainer riding her. She's found her forward button in a big way and is using that to intimidate and be quite pushy. EC figures that's normal progress for a pony of Midge's disposition...being lazy and slow didn't work, so now running through the bridle and being quite reactive to the leg is on the agenda. Maybe we'll find the middle ground one of these days :)

-Next lesson: Wednesday

-Next horsey event: The Mane Event this coming weekend. Once again, I'll be auditing, and am excited for the Jimmy Wofford clinic

-Other things: Midge gets my favorite saddle custom fitted to her this Wednesday, which is probably really, really tempting fate as it's actually supposed to be Ginger's saddle. If Ginger comes back here, I'm sure she won't mind using a not-quite-perfectly-fitted saddle, right? And getting the saddle fitted to Midge will make her much more agreeable, right? (Insert hysterical laughter here ;)

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

So, What's Happening With Ginger?

The answer: No perfect person yet, but she's doing well and been out and about all over the place and getting ridden daily.



This weekend, her outing is going to be a dressage show at the same venue I'm taking Midge to later this fall for a 2 phase event. I so wish I could go see her, but it looks like I will be travelling the opposite direction that weekend ( 3 weeks without visiting G, pretty sure he'd divorce me if I made it a full month without a visit home in order to visit Ginger ;)

Long term planning: she's had several people try her out and many really like her, but we're not really finding her perfect match. I'm going to extend her boot camp through November, then have her come here with me. I've talked it through with EC and am confident we've got a good plan here for the both of us. Which is great! Of course it's not all sunshine and happiness though - I simply can't afford the long term prospect of two ponies boarded and trained here. Not to mention the time involved. I for one am choosing not to think about it and trying to remain optimistic that everything will work out as it's meant to.

If anyone out there is looking or knows of someone looking for a gorgeous and sweet Welsh D, feel free to share this post or give me a shout  for video or further details :) Here's the basics:

-15.3hh, 8 year old reg'd Welsh Sec D mare
-No vices. excellent manners, super sweet
-Easy keeper
-Great on trails, goes out in a group or alone
-Schooling first level dressage, getting out to first shows this week and in the coming month.
-Started over small courses
-Sound, well conformed, goes barefoot with no issues
-Bathes, clips, trailers well.
-Located Vancouver area (Ladner), BC
-And, the catch: Needs a confident intermediate or experienced owner as she's quite sensitive and forward thinking and gets her confidence from her rider/handler. Can be quirky about who she likes/trusts.
-Very reasonably priced at $6500, looking for the perfect home :)


Monday, 12 October 2015

Good Times, Bad Times

Title should be something more along the lines of "Good Times , OK/alright/average Times" but that's not the song that's stuck in my head right now :)

Being a holiday Monday, I opted to have my lesson first thing in the morning so I had the rest of the day to be productive (or, read blogs and watch netflix. Same thing.) I arrived way early and fed the horses breakfast, which was dumb. Feeding Midge breakfast, she was like "Oh hi, I love you!" Aww, so cute! But wait, taking her away from her breakfast to tack up for a lesson was obviously me messing with her head. Some hateful things were being expressed my way. I got the feeling I was picking a serious fight in Ponyville and our lesson might not go quite as expected. Pony mares are the best at holding on to deep resentment.

Our lesson buddy was a different rider than the norm. She's a super nice girl on an equally nice horse. They are quite a bit farther along than the Midge and I, so I was conscious of not wanting to be the lowest common denominator as far as the jumps went. I needn't have worried, since EC set up the circle of death - a challenge for the both of us.

Midge shows us the circle of death, circa sometime last fall:
 
We started the same - 4 poles equally spaced on a 20 m circle. Trotting went fine, although Midge was still unhappy about life and doing a great angry giraffe impression.

Canter was the next logical step. We opted to start left since that's Midge's easier side. The wheels fell off, which was disappointing after Saturday's ride when she rocked it. Our problem was that she was wanting to be VERY forward and pushy and I was picking a fight over that, resulting in Midge opting out of steering. Finally, EC suggested just picking one or the other - if the wheels are falling off the canter, get it balanced and stay wide on the circle - if the steering is the issue, make her turn even if it means sacrificing the canter for a trot. Readers know that Midge is less than easy about the canter and on a bad day her two defaults are racing along unbalanced and falling out through the shoulder. She is if course green and legit finds it hard, but she also is smart and lazy enough to know intentional flailing into the wall might mean a trot break. Fun times! We eventually got a decent canter and spiralled in enough to get a couple of  poles in.

Next up, right lead. Which is her more difficult side. Again, much drama. We may or may not have slid through some jump standards and also into the wall a couple of times. Before you start feeling bad for Midge, realize that 3/4 of the circle is fine...for some weird reason she simply cannot turn on the section closest to the gate. Weird, huh?;) I'm proud to say I sat deep and made it happen, and the circle magically started getting round. Poor pony was huffing and puffing - life would really be so much simpler if she didn't waste so much time getting pissy and trying to live in Bizarro World (if my memory serves from Mad magazines circa an embarrassingly long time ago, it's the world where everything is opposite. Midge is a frequent visitor, her hobby on a bad day being pushing back into pressure)

"Let me outta here!" Fence smashing procedure initiates in 3...2...1 (Again, old pic)

And, onto the good times! The poles were raised into little x's and Midge cantered them both ways with an entirely new mindset. We found our canter - the nice big uphill one - and she started to figure out how to adjust off my seat. Add in respecting my outside aids again, and it was a happy end to a tough lesson. EC: "THAT's the canter we've been looking for. You can jump anything from that one!" And it felt like it! Huge progress.

Moving forward:

- EC is suggesting I take the odd lesson on one of her upper level horses so I can keep some sanity and remember how it's supposed to feel on a trained horse.

- Cantering circles with jumps. Don't need to rehash the circle of death outside of lessons, but work to incorporate the odd jump on a circle, and more bending lines.

- Pony is much more enthusiastic and forward thinking now - she loves jumping. Continue popping over the odd jump as a reward or as a motivator to help her "get" something (better turns, sharper canter transitions)

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Like A Tiny Hurricane

Weather wise, this morning brought us the remnants of Hurricane Oho. Windy, wet, but surprisingly warm. T shirt weather it you didn't mind feeling like you're trapped in a car wash :)

Muddy beast:

Pony wise, this morning brought me another hurricane - Hurricane Bridget. Once again, she was a bit hot off my aids, a little spooky, and very forward. I won't lie, this is actually a treat for me because it's my favorite sort of horse to ride. Bridget is the first horse I've owned that can get a little stuck behind the leg, so the days when she's the opposite and pulling are actually more in my comfort zone - I feel like I ride that Bridget much better. I live in hope she'll figure out life is easy and her rider is happier when she's a bit sharp and it will become more of a regular thing.


Opposite to our normal routine, we took advantage of her excess energy and did canter work first. A most excellent decision since we had our best canter work to date. Left lead was really decent for where we're at - a bit heavy and flat at times, but I'd say 75% of our time there was uphill and balanced. It was not really as round and consistently on the bit as some would like, but huge progress over a few months ago, and even a few weeks ago at our "1 speed fits all" dressage test. 

Right canter as always was slightly more unreliable and tense in the transition. I feel like we still have a little bit of a mental block there after those rides where we just couldn't get it done at all. Once we get in stride though, it's actually her better side and feels wonderful to ride. Lots of power coming from that big pony bum! I admit to checking it out in the mirror and liking how it looked - I so love the big fancy canter she can surprise us with when she's really using herself. We alternated big circles with small, and I played the game of adding in a transition back to trot , then returning to canter randomly. On her lazy days she'll randomly break to trot so it's very important any and all transitions up or down are my idea and happen immediately when I ask. We're making progress there.

Another rider had the circle of death exercise set up (the one with 4 jumps evenly spaced on a 20m circle). I popped over a couple as a reward for her. Pony had so much impulsion she actually rocked it first try with 2, then no issues with all 4. Since that's a huge ask for her I didn't tempt fate and left it there, letting her believe she is the best at all the things.

We finished with some decent trot work, and cooled off at the walk. She's getting fitter strength wise, but she's still pretty out of shape cardio wise. Again, I like to quit while we are ahead and leave her feeling like she could do more rather than feeling discouraged and tired.

O (the amazingly mature and talented teenager who you'll probably be hearing about one day) popped Midge over a couple of jumps yesterday and got a big surprise when Midge went from bored dressage pony to wannabe bad ass jumper pony.  She's pretty excited about her. She rides some very talented horses, so for her to like Ms Bridget so much makes me all sorts of happy. If/when Ginger comes here the one thing I know is that I will have a ton of support - Bridget has charmed everyone and Welsh Cobs are gaining a little fan base here at the big event barn.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

In Which Bridget Impersonates Ginger


Midge warmed up like a crazy pony (*for real, legit spooky/bolty/snorty!*) last night, so a dressage lesson was the order of the day. I was happy she's small, because she's quite reminiscent of Ginger in that mood - very quick and powerful! It was our first ride where it was dark enough to necessitate the arena lights, plus it was windy and rainy and the metal roof was making all sorts of noise. In other words, she gets a pass for being a little unlike her normal self. Pony also apparently now thinks arena = massive excitement where we charge around and jump all the things, so she was less than impressed to be put on a circle that avoided all that. There was much groaning and sulking and more than a few attempts at drifting over in the direction of a jump. I can't be upset about her naughtiness either, I love that she is really excited about something and loving at least part of her job!
Shiny and cute earlier in the week.

We started out with a check in of our lateral aids. Shoulder in, and a bit of leg yield in and out on the circle, then some haunches in. Midge had her game face on, and more than enough energy waiting to be diverted to a good cause, so it was declared we've made excellent progress since last time. 
We moved on to some canter work, which made it obvious Midge still finds turning from the outside aids an optional sort of thing. This was where she started attempting to drag me over to the jumps we had set up. Since they were set at about 3' she at least gets points for being ambitious! Exercise for the day: every time I start to lose the outside shoulder, immediately spiral in and exaggerate moving that shoulder in. Don't worry about keeping the canter, worry about reinforcing those outside aids and making the turn happen exactly when and where I want it to.
The shape is getting  more sporty, and less round!
Words of wisdom from EC:

- We need to establish better steering in the canter before we can fine tune it- don't worry if she's above the bit or I feel a little like I'm manhandling her in order to keep the circle. Help her understand she needs to respect outside rein, work on the rest later.

- Lateral work. A proper balanced canter is going to come from establishing and practicing correct lateral work.

-In canter or on a bending line/circle, half halt comes from seat and outside rein, as outside hind is what you're trying to get more active. Use both reins on a straight line in trot because we are (hopefully) working equally behind in trot and want to influence both hinds equally.

- Pony is trying now, work ethic is much improved over earlier in the summer where she would just give up and not want to do anything "hard".

- Since Bridget tends to get "stuck" practice three strides of shoulder in or travers and then three strides of forward and straight. Keep her forward and thinking.

- Also useful for crooked/sticky ponies: Establish a balanced and rhythmic working trot (ie pony really getting her hind legs under her and carrying herself) and then ask for a stride or two of leg yield, but almost think half pass (for me this visual works to keep us straight/stop me hanging on the outside rein). Insist on maintaining same balance and tempo, teach pony that lateral can also be forward.

- Midge needs to build cardio in canter. That means canter more! Canter all the things.

- Bonus tip (from an earlier lesson, thank goodness) that I found funny: "You're flopping around like a jellyfish! Stop doing that! Jellyfish don't ride good transitions!"

I shouldn't admit this but my favorite part of the lesson was when EC got on to help me work through the canter issues and Bridget just about succeeded in dragging her over a jump. Pony is becoming more confident and funny lately and I sort of like it - she was so "blah" when I got her it's neat to see a bit more of a personality coming out :)


Shiny happy pony post ride


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Yet Another Recap

Lesson night arrived sunny and unseasonably warm. Poor Midge, she's already starting to rock the Thelwell look so she was sweaty after even a light warmup. My lesson mate wanted to work on dressage, but I wanted to do jumping after our fantastic lesson last week. Neither of us were overly committed to either cause, so we let EC break the tie. She opted for jumping, but of the gymnastic sort with lots of changes of direction, so essentially a dressage lesson with little bumps in the way :)

Bridget was again very excited (for her - seriously, don't imagine an excited horse when I say that, imagine a normal horse being forward off the aids and taking you to the jumps and you are closer to her "excited" level of energy. The whoa button is still right there waiting the moment you think about it.

Bridget had zero issues and found it all rather easy. I had some moments where I forgot to look up and through the line and got either a bit ahead or behind, but nothing terribly awful. It's starting to feel more and more like we are a team. The awkward green pony/rider stuff is becoming a lot less frequent and I feel like we're quickly becoming a capable pair. It might not always be pretty, but neither is it scary - big progress, lol.

Homework:

-Trot in, canter out, canter in, out over jumps. Whichever, just make the transitions my idea. This mostly amounts to making her wait before the fences and keeping her forward a few strides after. There is a definite pony magnet effect with fences right now - she locks in and wants to charge on over, but loses the momentum going away (until you show her the next one!)

-Canter figure eights. Canter circle, accurate transition to trot as I change direction and immediately ask for canter again on new lead. Idea being as few trot strides as possible, getting accurate and correct transitions to each lead. This is going to be a tough one for me, as I'm in the habit of really babying Bridget and trying to set her up perfectly with a corner to help. I'm also too forgiving about the amount of time it takes to get the transition. EC is obviously on to us if she's assigning this as practice.

-Canter, canter, canter. It needs to be reliably adjustable before we can move up. We're making some progress but there is still a real tendency for us to get stuck in one (too flat/quick) speed, particularly outside of grids and related distances.

-And, my own reminder to self, use the extra energy Bridget brings to jumping to sneak in some dressage between fences.   I like to think I'm fairly good at that, but I do catch myself now and then opting to just go along with her and let myself be taken for the ride rather than being more proactive about riding a good corner and a straight line.

- TAKE MORE PICTURES! Thanks for being patient on that front....

Friday, 2 October 2015

Q4





Q3 Goal Recap

Horses:

- Ride a minimum of 4 times a week. Use my time wisely and plan for some 'homework' days - new coach likes to assign things to work on and goals between lessons. Done!

- Lesson once a week. Make room in the budget, make it a priority. Yep!

-Take full advantage of the riding/showing/training opportunities offered at the new barn. Don't say no to anything, or feel bad about making my riding goals more of a priority than they have been. The people that matter are 100% supportive of them (Thanks especially to you, Mr G :)! Yep
Bridget workin' hard
-This one stinks, but I do need to sell the big mare or find a good long term lease home for her. Board prices keep rising, my time is becoming ever limited, I still have anxiety riding pretty much anything but Bridget, and I know Ginny would be miserable if I moved her with Bridget to my current barn. I haven't found anything else suitable in the area, so I'm stuck visiting her every second weekend. Things may change in the future where I regret this decision even more, but sometimes you just need to live in the present and do what you've got to do to sleep well at night. I will post links to her ad when I finally stop procrastinating about creating one :) In progress...she is at trainers to be sold

Personal:

-Watch what I eat/exercise. As always! I've been super tired and burnt out lately, in general just need to look after myself better. Need to plan out meals better. Nope

-As I mentioned in my previous post, I need to suck it up. This coach has taught some big name riders and trained some horses to a very high level. Listen to her input whether it's things I want to hear/change/a direction I want to go or not. Essentially, trust the program. Yes!

-Budget my time better. Working full time in the week, travelling on the weekends, riding multiple days a week, trying to fit in a walk/run daily, and working at the barn some mornings means I'm up at 6:30 most mornings and don't get home until 7:30. I feel guilty for being too busy for some of the things I used to have time for - need to let go of that, but still work to fit small pieces of them back into my life. Nope

-As always, don't be too hard on myself. Don't feel bad about saying no and setting boundaries. (Except as related to the goals above, of course...then I had better feel very, very guilty lol!) Nope

-And finally, keep on having fun. I hope it goes without saying just how much I enjoy, love, and appreciate my ponies and the people in my life. If not, you heard it here first. YES


Q4:

Horses:

- Continue riding min 4x a week, weekly lessons (more if time, finances allow)

- Bridget's canter. Focus on improving it!
Old pic, but "hurried and unbalanced"? Yep, still a thing.

- 2 phase event in November. Be ready!

- I need to buy a xc vest.

- Improve my position over fences. 

- Ginger. Too many variables to really set this as a goal, but need to have a plan should she not sell in the next month or so with trainer.
Ginger is so darn cute

- Remember to praise Bridget as much as I correct her. She's so level I sometimes forget how much she likes a verbal 'Good girl!'.

-Try to be accountable for putting in productive miles now to prep for spring events. It's easy to say that spring is soooo far away and we have lots of time, but I need to stick with a program even when there is a period without shows to prep for and keep us motivated.

Personal:

- Things are winding down show season wise, spend some extra weekends at home with G, and plan a couple of fun weekends away with friends.

- Again with balancing things better and looking after myself.

- Priorities. We need to buy a home here for me. I need to stop procrastinating on that (and spending too much of my spare $ on horses)

- Be a better blogger. More current pics would be a great start. Breaking down and purchasing a laptop for home would be another...iPhone makes blogging difficult.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Bridget Shows Us How It's Done

Last night's lesson was another one of those rides where pony was ON. Yay!

I've been a bit run down and under the weather for a while now, so I skipped both work and the barn Monday and Tuesday so I could be a princess and sleep the days away. Yesterday was the end of my impromptu hibernation, and good thing because Bridget was full of herself.

Our lesson was our first jumping one in a couple of weeks, and I think our fourth or fifth one ever. Bridget saw our coach setting the jumps and I could feel her grow about a hand taller. She was super excited!
Looking about as majestic and impressive as she can. But, shiny and cute!

We warmed up trotting in to a little x, then cantering out over a ground pole that eventually grew into a vertical. Bridget was awesome, in front of my leg and really taking me through. 

Next up, we added a bending line with a little oxer followed by some plastic barrels. Again, zero issues. 

After that, we cantered a circle and cantered into the above two lines. No issues. Next challenge, adjust to fit 5 strides rather than 4. Done.

Finally, put it all together: a course with the above two lines, add an outside line, and the bending line again in the other direction. Again, Midge was a star. I had a huge grin on my face, particularly as EC had bumped everything up a little to be legit Entry level height (only 2'3", but a big step beyond our usual crossrails :)

Homework:

Play further with adjusting the canter. Spirals and shoulder in in canter also.

My thoughts:

 - Bridget was really, really enjoying herself. Her canter also magically improves when she is motivated/regulated by jumps.

-There is something to be said for having a horse that suits you physically. I am a less than stellar rider on a green pony but I rarely feel like I'm not in sync with her. It just feels easy (even in the slippery yoga pants I accidentally packed instead of my breeches lol) That's something I certainly couldn't say on some of the horses I was riding last summer.

- I am just so thrilled with this pony. We won't be setting the world on fire at any point in this life, but holy crap are we ever having fun together :)
Riding photos one of these days, I promise.  I've been a terrible blogger of late!