The Archives 3/7/09 – 3/25/09

Off to a Sonya clinic today. Bali, while her leg looks a bit ugly, she is sound, so off we went, with idhokie & Pico too.

We had a short, 3 part gymnastic, and Sonya, armed with the info that I’d sucked and fallen off last time I’d jumped Bali, was kind to me. She started it low, built it up and we did not jump the max height of that. Then, we went onto the course work. It was all low, 2’6″ to 2’9″ and that made me happy. I was able to work on getting back into my rhythm and feeling confident without worrying about height. Bali has also grown a smidge…again, and so her balance is a bit different….again. At the end, I forgot that the course didn’t finish after this one bending line, so I rode like crap into the 2 stride combo, but we redeemed ourselves with some nicer jumps. Riding in Pico’s jump saddle (the Kontrol) makes a big difference, Sonya noticed as well (Stephen had noticed a difference on Pico in it). The Black Country had gotten too wide and was really wobbly, which I think was contributing to my poor riding.

All in all, a lovely day and a lovely ride. Pico did nicely, I do have to get her stifles injected soon though. She hit herself HARD going through the max height gymnastic, and then had a couple of stops (she was lame for halfway around the ring, but it just smarted so she was able to continue), but overall, she looks pretty good and did well.

Now, off to enjoy the 70’s on a drive w/ the hubby.

3/8/09 – Pico & Bali
Some pictures from yesterday, since I never had NPS time for linking the last ones to a story line!

For some reason, I love this picture. It isn’t a jump, nothing fancy and I’m obviously watching someone else or listening to Sonya as I’m trotting, but I like this one.


Since Bali hates this panel as the first jump, I’ve decided I should jump it for her, luckily, she did decide to catch up to me.

The gymnastic was 2 verticals and an oxer. vertical 21′ vertical 18′ oxer. Riding through it oxer first was not working for me, stupid really, but oxers aren’t first in gymnastics, they need ground lines or something….except, that is stupid so this was good. Bali was having to think hard with the 2 different one stride distances and looks downright angry in a few shots.

Turning things into a course
Not collapsing left much now, probably helped by my gym time where I watch the mirrors and work hard at staying long during exercise, but reins way to long, producing the chicken wing look!
This one, while being the oh-so-unappealing butt shot, shows me that I am NOT leaning left! Woot!

And here, I’m NOT going to forget that the course is not done and there is a fence over there to jump before I stop.

And Pico gets a shot too!
She did great. Needs her stifles done, and drifted hard one way in all the lines, but that stifle is worse than the other. So, stifles for her, hocks for Romeo, and Bali, being young, just gets hurt to use her vet dollars.

Frying Pan Park Trip
Bali had a bit of a meltdown, then shutdown, then recovered today.

We went to Frying Pan and it was a zoo! Kids everywhere, a combined test going on, the tractor rides, the joggers, people riding bikes, walking dogs, and the usual people out schooling XC. Oh, and the construction has all the traffic patterns messed up.

So, we were there for Inverness to ride in clinic, but before we all walked out for a short walk around the park. Bali was up, and concerned about getting left behind. Then, we walked Inverness back to the ring for her ride and we left. Bali simply did not want to leave Ranger. He is her BFF when away, Romeo simply was not going to do. But, it was just springy action, and the powder keg feeling, not actual explosions. We trotted along, felt a bit explosive so walked more. Went through the water, trotted again, then we got back towards the indoor and where Ranger was and she was simply obnoxious. Sorriest whinny ever, again and again. But, we went to work on a circle, she pulled herself together, relaxed over the 2′ jump that was there. Then, I thought, “We’ll walk across the ditch, she’s done it before”. I forgot the part that it was dry before and had water in it this time.

Romeo then balked a bit, and so that sealed it in her mind….she was NOT going to go across that ditch.

Well, I sat there ineffectively spurring, whipping and clucking, Suzy got off to walk Romeo over, Bali wouldn’t follow, she tried walking her over, still wouldn’t follow. I finally got off and she hopped across and she got a cookie. Then she went a few times, in hand, nicely. I got on, went 2x (with a lead) with me on, then she shut down. Would not do a thing. Eventually I got off and led her over a handful of times, then got on, went over once and called it a day.

Not dangerous, but she would have been bucking a few times if I hadn’t planted her nose to my toe.

Oh well, she is still a good doobie. Just reminding me that she is not quite 5 and still green.

Back to a dressage lesson.

Bali wondered what is up….3 outings in 4 days? “Really, this is a bit excessive”, says she. She is also not feeling quite 100% which I contribute to the antibiotics. But, tomorrow is the last day of those.

We worked on leg yield, responding to aids, canter loops (test 1-4 type), transitions within the gait (more respond to my leg NOW), I think I’m getting a bit better with a timely touch w/ the dressage whip. She is still wanting to cross canter when she gets tired. I might try the 3 days of bute to see if it is soreness, but I kinda think it is growing/balance, as she is seeming a bit butt high.

At the end, a couple of halts, which she did reasonably well.

She was just plain tired when we got home.

Bali owned that ditch by the end today.

Sonya was going to FPP for schooling today and called me, so I decided to head over and school XC in the rain, and to approach that ditch again, with a lead.

We started out much calmer, no friends left behind, and then we did a handful of fences in the big field, Sonya wanting me to use galloping position, sit up balance, and then press over the fence position, even though I said I have no intention of actually riding XC in competition anytime soon. Too many people dying and killing horses. I want my jumps to fall down when I fuck up. But, I humored her, shortened my stirrups even more, galloped, sat up, and jumped the BN and a few N fences, since really, at 2’11”, it would be hard to have a rotational fall.

The ditch did take a bit of work, but we worked through it and she was cantering it both ways nicely when we finished. We kept circling, bending her away from the ditch, leg yielding her close to it on both sides, going both directions, then when she was chill, we tried to follow our lead horse. She stopped. We waited her out, and she finally got her nerve up and launched over. We did it again and again until it was reasonably boring, both ways. Thanks for the lead horse staying after they finished to give me a lead!

Then, we went over to the water, which was fine, as expected. We conquered the water beast (at least the FPP water beast) last year, and she cantered in and out, and even cantered the little stream as we circled around.

Back to the main field behind the barn, when Sonya wants me to do a few together. The teeny drop, around to the BN table, circle around to a N table…which made me say “I’m feeling a bit chicken shit today, I dunno” and then a coop w/ vertical slats.

Of course Bali didn’t care in the least. She took me to the first one, w/ the drop, we’d done the BN table, so it was not scary, then it was around to that big table….square with a rock on the landing side on the right….we’d been drifting right on all landings. Way to cure me of letting that happen. As is my way, I rode like crap the first time, but Bali just carted me over without a blink. Then, we did it 3 more times, which were better each time.

Finally, we did that last coop, which was good. Bali is a good pony, and I enjoyed it out there, despite my XC death reservations.

Back to Hunter Princess mode.

Off to Mr. Trainer for a lesson in the hunter way.

Bali got off and decided that the outdoor arena was spook worthy over on one side. The far side. We walked by the pony stalls, and coming back, it was explosive Bali.

When my horse is explosive, I tend to lock my elbows. I still have a following hand, but it is a bouncing hand from the locked elbows. So, I got yelled at a good bit for my hands. Rather than whining about why, I just took the yelling, bent my elbows as best I could, and amazingly, when I wasn’t on the time-bomb, my hands were instantly better.

So, next we started over the fences. He hadn’t asked me what we’d been doing, and nothing got over about 2’6″…we’ve been doing bigger, even on my chicken shit days. But, I’m not going to complain about low, even if it can be hard to “see” a distance to 2′.

I have been doing the gymnastic series all winter. Part of that was just allowing the horse to figure it out. Tonight, it was riding single fences. Which means the distances weren’t created, and so allowing the horse to figure it out, was not the right ride. So, my job was to make a decision, and stick with it. I could decide AFTER the fence if it was good or bad, but I was to make the decision. So, I worked on that. I ended up just counting 3-2-1, 3-2-1 for my entire ride, to get a feel for 3 strides out….

Bali did have a complete and utter rodeo meltdown about halfway through. Full-on bronco. I had her head to my knee as best I could, kicked on, and when she did not stop after 5 or 6 bucks, I started popping her on the shoulder with the crop with a YOU WILL NOT BUCK….After a circle of bucking, she was better, then a second circle and we went back to jumping.

Baaad Bali!

I got to practice hovering over the saddle and not sitting and planting my hands in the neck. And I got to roll my eyes at him wanting a martingale on Bali. So not what she needs, but whatever, he likes his hunter gadgets and as a haul in, I ignore the desire for those unless I feel it is a valid need.

Another lesson, I’m just blowing through money supporting my local economy by way of lessons!

Today, it was back to Sonya for a jumping lesson, but we had a small group and we weren’t calling it a “clinic” so instead of doing a lot of jumping, we did a lot of flat work.

Hand, again nailed, so, I used my beater and for the rest of the lesson I held the whip above my thumbs, even when we did get to jumping. Forced me to keep the hands together and at some form of level. This was my own correction, but it worked well.

We worked on using bend/counter bend to develop a more uphill balance, and one thing that was different was this was the first time I’ve ever had someone ask for a diagonal change when doing counter bend at the trot. It worked very nicely.

Then, we moved onto taking that into a leg yield into a new bend, followed by a canter depart to the new direction. This was also very effective at balancing them more on the hind end. After that was nice both ways, we went to cantering a line of 2 poles on the ground (never did count how many strides between, a long line though). The goal was to hold to the close, deep spot. Develop that nice, uphill canter, over-shoot the turn into the line, leg yield over to center, then having used the leg yield to rebalance, canter through the line, not letting them take the long spot/flyer.

We spent a fair amount of time getting that done well, and it was just a canter exercise. At the end, those became 2 2′ fences. And we cantered them, the same as we’d done the poles. The question was “can you jump with the whip like that?”, I said “We’ll find out”, and the answer is “Yes, I can jump holding the whip like this.”

We had Doug there taking head on shots to show me my bad habits of collapsing, especially since he was not getting any awesome jumping shots.

Most excellent lesson, and happily, Sonya was happy to comply with my request to just say soften elbows, instead of calling any attention to my hands, because for some reason, that works and calling attention to my hands makes them worse.

Bali was good, Pico was fantastic for idhokie in all the bending, they were looking awesome, and the other lady there is super nice. I enjoy having her in my lessons. Afterwards, we had a group discussion over the improvement, why it worked etc.

And only one kick out from Bali, towards then end when she was getting tired and I was attempting to spur her hindquarters in from the rail in hopes of getting her onto the correct lead.

A couple of days off for Bali and today, I decided to see if the re-stuffed dressage saddle I’d been using (Sparkle’s) would still work. I’ve been figuring that I would need to do something as it was getting wobbly, just like the jumping saddle had. As Pico’s jumping saddles were ok, I had hopes that the dressage saddle might work.

I put the XW dressage saddle on and Bali tried to bite me. I put the girth on one side, and she reached around again and nipped. I started to attach the girth and she again, attempted to nip. So, I said “You don’t want this one?” looked more closely and grabbed the MW. There was an initial, less insistent nipping attempt, but when I rode, she felt great and it was stable and not wobbly.

She was good. I worked on my hands again (holding the whip), and some of the 6 step transitions I’d been doing in Sparkle’s lesson last night. Then we did some leg yielding, trying to remember to stay focused on straight, not overbending, not trailing hocks, etc. The jumps are in the way currently for lateral work, soon, the grass will grow and they can go back into the jumping field.

ETA: Bali’s “nip” is very half hearted and when I put my palm on her lips, she closes her mouth and agrees that actually biting would be a bad plan.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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