Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday Lesson

I don't usually take lessons on Mondays, but it just worked out that way this time. Lucky me!

My trainer rode Phil first, and I have the last few minutes of her ride here - 

Then I got on and had my lesson.  This video is pretty much my entire lesson.  My trainer's mom came along and was kind enough to video the whole thing, and do a great job of it too!  Big huge thanks to her!  

So, basically I need to trust him, and me, and let him go more.  It's hard not to hold onto him, because that trot gets pretty big and we cover some ground.  But I need to trust him, and he hasn't done any scooting and bolting on me lately, so I guess it's time.  

And I need to fix my right side!  It's like it has a mind of it's own.  That stupid arm and elbow flapping, and the shoulder creeping up.  You can see through most of the video that my right hand and arm are higher, tighter, and out of position.  I'm working on it, but obviously there is still work to be done.  I need to fix it before it causes Phil to be crooked on that side.  So, Right Arm, get it together! 

Oh, and I've come to the conclusion that my arms are short.  My trainer can just reach down and pat Phil's neck and not come out of position, but for me to reach his neck I have to bend forward, even if I totally straighter my arm!  I've got to sit up straighter too.  So much to improve! 

I rode tonight and was able to let go and work on some of the points my trainer made in the lesson.  The hardest part was the last stretching bit.  He wasn't as tired and he kept rushing during this part.  It's hard but we're going to keep at it.  

I'm lucky to have such a great trainer (she hates to see or hear herself on video, by the way).  And such great horses.  Show season, here we come! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

April "It's.. wait, what?"

I missed a weekly post.

I admit it.  This month has been a little nuts.  So I didn't post about showing last week.  I hope I can this week, but I'm not making any promises.

What I will give to you is a promise of lesson videos from tonight.  They are downloading right now and I'll have them up tomorrow or Wednesday.  It was a great lesson.

So here are some photos of Phil, just to appease you.  And because he's cute -

Here is a body shot.  He's looking more muscular.  I like it.  

This is what that cutie did to his sheet today in turnout.  That's not as adorable.  

I'll also leave you with this -

Yeah, so about that.  You know how sometimes you put your half-chaps or boots and and you feel like your full seats are a little pulled down into your boots?  So you have to pull them up a little out of your boots so the crotch of your breeches isn't hanging way low?  Well, I did that and I totally ripped the breeches.  Now, they were really old breeches, like 8 years or something, so I'm not devastated or anything.  The problem was, I hadn't ridden yet, didn't have a spare pair of breeches, and wasn't about to skip riding or go home to get a new pair.

The solution? 

Duct tape, of course!  My only concern was that the tape would bunch up and come off while I was riding, since it was right on the inside of my knee.  Fortunately for me, my legs passed the "ride with an open and soft knee" test and proved to me that I wasn't gripping with my knee.  Here is what it looked like after my ride -

I'm pretty happy with myself. 

So, what do you think?  Anyone else out there willing to take the Duct Tape test?  Let me know, I'm interested!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Outside Experience

The weather was really nice about two weeks ago so I decided to ride Phil in the outdoor arena. We had been working in the indoor arena on connection, accepting the half-halt, and varying stride length at the trot. So I thought that working in the outdoor arena, which is bigger, would give us an opportunity to get some really long straight lines for our trot lengthenings.

It didn’t work out as well as I’d planned.

Phil was SUPER nervous outside. He’s not particularly spooky, or fearful, of “things”, like the jumps that were in the arena, or the trees next to the arena blowing in the wind. He was just nervous that something bad would happen. What that "something" was I have no idea. I’d like to say it was excitement, but I really don’t think so. I’ve felt excitement on Kaswyn, and this wasn’t it.

So instead of getting some nice time outside and continuing to work on what we had been doing, we went back to the beginning of just trying to get a connection. He was so distracted by every little thing – like if someone walked out of the barn with their horse to graze, or turnout, he jerked his head up and almost stopped. Then he over-reacted when I sent him forward and tried to focus him. The cat walking by, or the dog, or a bird, completely short circuited his brain. I swear it’s the worst he’s been as far as focusing goes.

Even though we had to go backwards in some of the training, all of the other work that we had been doing helped. Like the previous half-halt work and, believe it or not, the lengthening work were things I used to help me get his attention back. When Phil would get a little behind my leg I was able to send him across the diagonal or the long side and get more in front of my leg, and that was nice. But I still felt that we went backwards a little bit in our training, which is disappointing.

At the same time, I think it was good on some level for us to work outside. We were able to go out there about six times over the course of two weeks. It gave me an opportunity to experience how Phil would be at an outside show (when that eventually happens), and it gave me a chance to prove to him that nothing bad is going to happen if we are outside. I think we made some progress on that front, but time will tell on that.

I have a lesson scheduled next Monday. My trainer is going to ride Phil! I’m very excited to see how that goes. Expect video on that!

Friday, April 13, 2012

April "It's Showtime" Weekly Post #2

#2 - Keep Show Ready

Lots of times packing for a show can be stressful. But if you get organized, and stay organized between shows, it can become much easier. I basically basically have three places that I keep my stuff for those - the basement, my closet ,and the barn.

The Basement. I keep a tub in the basement with all of my clean show stuff in it. Show pads, clean brushes (only to be used on clean show horses), wraps, coolers, towels, bridle hooks, a hose, etc. On top of the tub are buckets with miscellaneous stuff I know I'll need. Next to that are my boots, and my helmet. If it's all together I know I just need to grab everything that’s sitting there, and it makes it easier.

The Closet. I keep a duffel bag with all of my show clothes in it. After each show I wash all my breeches, show shirts, and check my coats and have them cleaned if necessary. My coats and my breech duffel duffel are all in the same place in a closet, so I know I have to grab the breeches, shirts, white show undies, stock ties, and stock pins from the duffel, select the coats I'll need, and that's done. Now that I have all my clothes and clean stuff from home, all that's left is barn equipment

The Barn. Since I'm such a freak about cleaning my tack after every ride, I just need to grab my clean saddles and bridles (already in a bridle bag) and the tack is all set. Then my tack cleaning bucket, some grooming supplies, and wound bucket. I keep a bucket with all my wound care stuff in it - Aluspray, Silvadine, sterile gauze and wrapping, scissors, sterile saline, anything you can think of just in case somebody gashes themselves in a trailer and it's not bad enough to need stitches. For the grain, I will usually bag in individual servings if we're going to a short show, but if it's a long show and several horses eat the same grain, then it's easier to just bring the whole bag and a scoop. Then it's load hay, dump buckets, wrap horses, and we're outta there!

I love going to shows. Sure, it's stressful and a lot of preparation, but I still think it's a blast.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finally, the show!

So much to say, not enough time to write!

Okay, quick rundown on the show from March 26. We did the same thing as I did last time – haul in Saturday, work in the arenas, back Sunday morning to work in both arenas, then show.

Phil was much calmer this time around, but he was still very nervous. Saturday schooling was fine, as was Sunday morning. But I decided to bring him out at lunchtime and work again since our ride times were right after lunch. He was good in the warmup, but was really agitated in the arena.

Here’s the video of Intro B.

You can see during our first trot circle someone in the aisleway started scooping poop with a shovel right on the other side of the wall and Phil started to freak out. He really wanted to bolt out of control like he used to, but he didn’t. He let me get him through it and we finished the test, but he didn’t make a good steady contact. No ribbon and a 60.63%.

Ride two was pretty much the same. Here is Intro C.

The canter work went really well. I know there is like four seconds of canter, but I was just happy that it didn’t get out of control! 4th place with a 63.5%

Then Debbie showed Kaswyn. This time, Kaswyn was all business and did a fanastic job for her. She actually won her first class, and was second in her second class!

Here is her second ride. We had a video boo-boo on the first ride, so we don’t have it recorded. Don’t they make a pretty picture?

I’m mostly happy with the show, because it proved to both Phil and I that scary things can happen in the show ring and we can get through it without freaking out and bolting like a crazy pony. I think I may have overworked him and made him mentally tired, so next time I’ll do less work. Then maybe our connection and concentration will improve.

Since the show we’ve been able to ride outside a few times. I have to write about that. It’s been an adventure! I really think we’re making progress. I’m going to schedule another lesson soon. I’m really excited!

Friday, April 06, 2012

April "It's Showtime" Weekly Post #1

I'm a little late on this one... and I do have a show summary and videos from the March schooling show coming soon! I just fell behind and I'm trying to catch up! :)

This theme was suggested by Vanessa Viola. She'd like to see any tips I have about being efficient in regards to showing. Since show season is already upon us here in the north, now would be a good time. So let’s kick this off!

#1 - Schooling Shows

Some people thing schooling shows carry a negative stigma, like you're at a schooling show because because you can't afford a USDF show, or you're not good enough for a "real" show. Such BS! Schooling shows are a great way to practice and give you that "expensive" show experience at a bargain price. The only thing about schooling shows is that most of the judges are L judges or not rated judges at all so the judging can be a little inconsistent. Try to find the L judges that have the best reputations in your area when choosing a schooling show.

I love schooling shows. I use them as practice shows and as soon as I decide I'm going to one, I start reading the tests that I want to do. I try and do the same tests at a schooling show that I'll probably be doing at a recognized show. I print out the tests and keep them in my purse, so if I have a few minutes in the doctor's office or waiting for the kids, I can get it out and have a quick look. I always use a reader, but it's nice to know the test just in case.

Most schooling shows are casual, so you can wear a sweater or nice shirt, and paddock boots with half chaps and breeches. I do braid for schooling shows, just so I know how long it will take me to braid at a recognized show. I also keep track of how long it takes to tack up, and how long I warm up. Then I asses the weather, my horse’s attitude, and how he acted in the test to determine if my warm-up was too long or too short. If I have two tests in a day I time the warm-up again, because usually I need less time to warm-up for the second test.

For all shows, I always put the bridle number on the same side of the horse's head that I'm going to turn at C for the first movement after the halt. For example, if I'm going to turn right I put the number on the right side of the head. This is helpful if you have a total brain fart after your salute and your reader has already read the first movement. You can just look down and figure out which way to turn, and hope that you catch up with your reader before the next movement!

I also think schooling shows help motivate you and your fellow riding buddies. They are a low-stress and low cost way to set a goal and work towards it. Then you can get a few people rounded up and go to the show together. That way you have built-in hay haulers, horse helpers, and readers. Everybody helps out, and everybody wins (figuratively, of course!).

So when is your next schooling show?

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr