The Archives 2/7/09 – 2/28/09

Bali kinda wowed me tonight.

She’s a not a spooky horse, but really, tonight, my ring was like a “fun house” for ponies…you know, the kind that are supposed to scare you.

First off, I picked dusk, often a spooky time, but I figured it would be good.

Paddy & the neighbor’s corgis were all barking.

The screech owls started up out in the woods.

The wind was blowing the trees.

The neighbor started banging metal things putting them away….

The neighbor let the air out of his compressor.

The boys started using the circular saw and hammering things around the other side of the house.

Cars were roaring on the road over a ways.

Bali did not spook once! I mean, not even a startle/spook in place.

I was a bit worried and on edge because she was a boingy coming in, and was a little up while tacking up, but vacuuming the mud off took a good 20 minutes….I would fidget too.

Tomorrow it is off to Sonya’s.

Bali is the best! I adore this horse. Sales horse…yeah, right. Not until she becomes less favorite.

Bali skipped the Stephen clinic this week because she got to go to a Sonya Crampton clinic today instead.

I was late, I miscalculated how long it takes to get there, and did find a shorter way home though. But, it worked out ok.

We started out with a yellow vertical, set on a diagonal with a black oxer next to it on the opposite diagonal. We did the yellow vertical, turning both ways a couple of times, then added in getting to the black oxer..but with a rollback/cross your path almost full circle way. Bali still needs more leg.

I got busted hard core on my collapsing/leaning left. As it should be. More inside rein on a few turns, ahhh….outside rein success! Sadly, I have yet to hear “lengthen your reins”. So, the mantra is still “shorten your reins”.

After that we went to a bending line set. a natural oxer, 5 strides (bending) to a brick box vertical on the left, to a 7 stride bending right to that yellow vertical at the beginning. Bali did so well the first time, she only had to do that once! She was down with that level of effort! Then, it was that yellow vertical from a right lead approach, land, bending line to the left to a bounce. Steady into the bounce to get a nice ride, no diving forward.

After that piece, there was a line on the outside that had a 4 stride to a tight 2 stride. We rode it as a 5 to the 2 at first, then moved it to the 4 to the two next. Then, we put all the pieces together for a course that was

Left lead to the natural oxer, bending 5 stride to the brick vertical, go around on right lead to the other side of yellow vertical, bending line left to the bounce, circle around to the black oxer on the long approach from the left rein, then back to the right for that last line, riding the 4 to the 2.

It was a gorgeous day, I enjoyed getting busted on my collapsing. I will work on that. I don’t do it in the dressage saddle, but damn, I seriously collapse left w/ the jumping saddle.

Sonya wants to see my saddle a couple of inches forward, she feels it is not quite high enough in front, but I think this is because I need to reflock, or try Pico’s saddle on her, Bali has trimmed up and changed in the 6-8 months and the saddle is sitting low in front. Sonya thinks I’ll be able to stay with that jump if I’m a bit more forward. I’ll test it out, see if it bothers Bali, and if not, I’ll give it a go, maybe even seeing if I can find a breastplate to try. My own personal bugaboo is I do NOT make my horse uncomfortable for my improvement.

Next clinic w/ Sonya, 3/1, and I am going to email and see what jumper shows she might do. She sees now reason I shouldn’t do jumpers with Bali…it isn’t like she needs to do the hunters to “quiet her”.

Oh, best part, Sonya said “Don’t sell this one” after we’d chatted a bit about my goals as a rider (competent and not scary at level 5 jumpers and a USDF Bronze medal).

ETBW might have some pictures tomorrow. Trixie was there on Wings.

ETA: also, need to work on using my spur by turning my toe out. I tend to bring my leg back a bit before applying.

Tonight we finally got back to our Tuesday dressage lessons. Weather has conspired against me, but tonight it was warm even!

I needed a dressage lesson too, I was feeling muddled about my dressage, with all the jumping lessons.

Bali was nice coming into the ring, so no bucking or shenanigans. Not even a tail swish. She is growing up. We did some trot work, both ways, added in some leg yielding, talked about sitting for first level. We did a 5 loop serpentine and today, right bend was harder, but she was popping up, above the bit when I changed to left bend. She was doing it with enough drama that I think it is possibly teeth. She is a bit overdue.

Then we went onto cantering. Spiral into a smaller circle, get flexion, release, press her out, midsection first, as she figures out her balance, keep asking for flexion, and have an allowing outside hand to give her room. Did a bit both ways, then allowed her to stretch at the trot. Had a walk break, then we went back to work on first level test movements, from various tests, some trot lengthenings. I suck at lengthenings, I just don’t get them, the how/feel, nothing about them. I think there might have been a glimmer of feel at the end, but it was so elusive, I doubt I could recreate it.

Then, another walk break and we did a bit more canter work. Some canter lengthenings, those are easier for me…and then we ended with the first-4 canter loop that introduces counter canter.

A very good lesson and I washed her tail in the wash stall before we left. Someday, I will figure out how to get the scurf from the base of her tail. I washed it 2x, and it is still all scurfy w/ gross skin stuck in the tail hair. I hate grooming.

I sucked today in the clinic. I rode worse than a drunken monkey, but the good news is, Bali didn’t mind.

I did not feel like going, but had committed, and really, I had no reason for my crappy mood/tiredness, but soldiered on….it is what I do. Mental state be damned.

I got there, hopped on, and was not on my game. I wasn’t riding forward. As Stephen said, I was just tentative and it was not the right time for tentative.

When we got to the second fence in the gymnastic…placing pole, vertical, canter pole, oxer, I was getting crooked, and jumped out of the tack. Badly. I nearly fell off once, and only did not because I used the reins/her mouth to stay there. I apologized profusely, and realized…she didn’t mind my error. She realized it was an error. Then, the third fence was 2 strides to a top-of-the-standards crossrail. I’m not sure why, but I decided it was going to be a problem before I even approached it. Self fulfilling prophecy anyone? Amazingly, it was a problem. I sucked it at the oxer, went crooked, which is a bad plan when the standards are over 5′ and the rails are near that where we are aimed, and she decides to just go right and miss it. Good idea, I’d have fallen off on take off or landing…drunken monkey. We came again, this time, she stops left, and I just come off on the right side. It was a lovely, soft landing. I held the reins, Bali looked down at me with the “Mel, what are you doing down there?” look, and I straightened the pad and saddle, asked Stephen to drop the cross rail for me and we went through again. And again, and after 2x success at a low X, he put it back to the tall X and I managed to remember that nothing changed. At this point, I’m seriously considering one last, good jump and calling it a day, but again, I keep going. I pull it together some, but not as much as I should. The X became an oxer…thinking it was in the 3’6″ neighborhood. At the end, it went to 3’9″ and Bali & I did NOT do that height, she is young and I was riding so backwards it would have been unfair to her.

Then it was onto the a single vertical and then an oxer, coming in off a diagonal line. The single, ok. The oxer…first time, I got to the deep spot, and then did not support her, but she still climbed over it when I, too late, said “go”. We went immediately over 2 more times and the last one was ok. I sat there, and when he said the final exercise, I decided to call it a day. It was to be the single to the oxer as a 4 stride, back around to the single on the diagonal and then trot, through the gymnastic. I would have gone last so that he could lower that last oxer a hole, but I was feeling very uncompetent, so I said, “I’m done on that last one”. Stephen was very nice and understanding. He says everyone has a bad day, and not to worry about it.

I chatted w/ a couple of spectators, as I was sniffling over my terrible riding, and I realized….it wasn’t so bad.

1) Someone fell off Bali for the first time, and it did not scare her
2) I got in my overdue “one fall per year”. We’ll count this as my 2008 fall.
3) I will not even have a bruise or pulled anything, it was a gentle fall.
4) Bali did not get pissy with the drunken monkey on her back. I love this horse!
5) Bali did not get upset when I used her mouth for balance (first time I’ve ever hit her)
6) Bali has some scope….she can deal with me on a day like today, and she was fabulous, even with the sucky ride that was NOT giving her much support.
7) I don’t think I’ve done any damage in her training and confidence over fences.

Hopefully whatever funk hit me today, will be gone by tomorrow. And perhaps I’ll try to figure out why I have to agonize over my crap ride and worry that I’m ruining my horse.

Well, I always feel guilty, since it isn’t like I buy made horses to be mine, so I feel a responsibility to give them a good ride, not ask them to put up with too much of an amateur ride. But, in my experience, my horses have always taken care of me, never taken advantage when I’ve had a bad day.

I was mostly just upset because I haven’t had a day where I’ve felt that awful since I fucked up at Upperville on Pico in 2007. But, I’m realizing that I am already mentally in a better place, and I am going to just figure it was me feeling blech, not any great new holes in my riding/confidence.

I also remembered that yesterday, I was having bits of saddle-fit angst. Bali has changed considerably in the past 9 months since I bought her jumping saddle, and I knew it was sitting a bit low in front. Sonya had mentioned I should move it up as it was unbalanced, but I knew that it is more because it is too low in front, and so I was fretting (mentally) that I should have grabbed a fleece pad or something…or tried Pico’s jumping saddle (one size narrower).

Today, while Bali was getting a massage, I grabbed out Pico’s jumping saddle and tossed it up there…and voila, perfect.

So, I did our w/t stretch out ride in that. I don’t like that saddle as much, even though it is lovely, the pommel is higher than I like, but I’ve ridden for years in it and it isn’t terrible, just makes me make sure I sit back and don’t get hit. Bali was feeling quite fresh (adding in leetle squeals to her head twirls), but settled down for a lovely w/t ride. Her shoulders are sore, and Tina thinks that it is from the gymnastics and jumping. The nice news, her back and hindquarters are not.

I am quite happy that the jumping saddle fits Sparkle though, I would probably be hating it if Bali was my only horse and I’d only gotten 9 months of use out of a gorgeous saddle before she changed.

Bali also got a photo op this past weekend! But first, Lesson report.

Tuesday is always rush day. Getting home early, catching and grooming a horse, loading on trailer, heading an hour to a lesson is always a bit hectic. So, I’m quite happy that I don’t take Pico…who is a bitch to catch. Instead I alternate between Bali & Sparkle.

Tonight, Bali reached new levels of coolness. I headed in to change and they were all out back. Then, when I got back out, they’d moved up one paddock, but Bali was on the far hill in there. I called out to her said “Baliboo, come here!” and walked into the barn to gather the tack and stick it in the trailer. Idhokie went down to get Romeo & Bali, and when I was at the back of the trailer I said “Bali, come on, we have a lesson today”, and I hear Idhokie call out “Well, why didn’t you say so?!” and there is Bali, trotted over to come in. Then, when I went to the gate, Bali made sure she was not attached to idhokie and came over to me. I love her Labrador retriever attitude!

In our lesson, she was just slow. Not bad, but definitely not hot. I am thinking all the days of vicious wind have worn her out. We did much leg yield and I think the leg yield zig zag worked the best. a few steps right, a few steps left, and so on. left was hard, I almost think we did a hair more than we should have, but we ended on a decent note. I would have probably accepted the first really good steps and quit, but we continued, had more bad and good intermixed, ended good.

Oh, pictures…I’m too tired to go through them and find ones to post. Later this week. Must clean kitchen and get to bed. Have to leave for work 2 hours early in the morning.

Since Bali did not get to go, and Sparkle didn’t get to go due to a slight bit of heat in her LF and a .5 grade lameness on the LF, I went to the third string…Pico.

And, it was just what I needed. While Pico’s canter and trot are not cushy to sit, she is reliable. A bit hot, but reliable. Point at fence, jump fence.

So, after my debacle of 2 weeks ago, where I sucked, fell off and felt sorry for myself, it was good to take a point and shoot horse.

The grid was pretty complex and even in the novice group, some were getting bumped to 3’3″ish. Then, it became a small course with diagonal approaches to jumps.

Pico hardly had to do anything twice, I got major kudos on my leg being so stable (saddle not wobbly) and overall, it showed me that one bad day did not destroy my confidence for 4 months.

I was almost all “do I wanna go?” again, but then had a couple of distractions, one bad news phone call from a sobbing cousin, that made me a bit late, then a little dog running on Snickersville T’pike that needed to be picked up….and delivered to his owner (bad dog, running away and getting into stranger’s trucks!) so I forgot to be nervous/worried and instead was in “why does the world conspire to make me late? I had 20 minutes of do-nothing time in the schedule”.

This was the final clinic in the series. I feel that it has been good for me in my position and consistency and just kicking on when there is a bobble underneath.

I think I love the fancy, plastic Prestige stirrups too. I borrowed them from Susan’s saddle (which she is not using, she is using one of mine) and I might need to shop around for a pair of my own…or two.

About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
This entry was posted in Bali, Clinic Report, Riding. Bookmark the permalink.

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