The Archives 4/1/09 – 5/5/09

It was Bali’s turn for a lesson, and since I sent in my entry for a show in less than 2 weeks, entering Bali in training 4, and first 1, we need to knuckle down and stay focused.

We rode outside, since it was so gorgeous, and that was good, since outside is 20x60m, and easier to work on the actual geometry. After an initial bit of warmup, we used Training test 4 for our initial warmup, and Lauren explained some show-ring tips to me. Ways to use the corners, leg yielding into the corner before certain movements to get a better setup for the movement, tips to “show” better and possibly get a higher score by using these.

Training 4 is a nice test, and I really like the loop in it, it is a nice exercise. The test is symmetrical and rides well. So, I’ll hope for a reasonable score on that…given that I have a 5 year old, who is not the most seasoned and might lose focus during the test.

First 1 is also a nice test. I almost remembered it from last year, but what this showed me/us is that I absolutely have to warm up lengthenings on Bali because they are just not there without some time spent on them. It helped when another horse rode over the horizon and disappeared…and the next time around, it was a bobbing helmet only in sight. That jazzed her up, and gave me some forward to then get round, which was then used to get some lengthenings. I am learning to use that sort of energy and shape it, not just try to shut it down so it isn’t an explosion.

I (still/always) need to keep more contact, ride her in a box….even if it is a “jello box”. That was exactly what I needed to hear, since I have a mental hangup over being too “hard” and often contact feels too hard to me, so making me think of a box, that might move a bit here and there, works much better, just a mental thing.

This morning, she felt good again, and I had a bit more of that forward to start. She felt nicely steady, although a few head twirls to stretch…and the stretch that I must get a picture of someday….she crossed her front legs, a good foot between them in the crossed position, and then does a downward dog….and it is a deep stretch. In the field, she uses the bottom fence rail to get a good stretch on her legs. She is amusing to me and is very careful with her front legs on the fence when she does this. I don’t worry that she’ll get hurt there…now, getting cast under the fence when rolling too close is a different story.

Her mane must get pulled so she can be braided. I entered her on Sunday, in case I decide to be an insane woman and attempt to do both a dressage show and foxchase on the same day (Saturday I’ve entered Sparkle in the dressage show).

I took Bali to a hunter show today. We did the 8am division, schooling hunter, and I am embarrassed to admit I was rather nervous, about 2’6″-2’9″ jumps…. ::) Really, I have no reason for this.

Anyway, there were 33 horses in this division, and I had no expectations of placing or bringing home ribbons, this was purely, get some more show experience with a trainer available for coaching.

The hack was the first class, and I probably should have skipped it, except that it is our view of the ring and good practice. I’ve decided that I don’t really want a horse who wins the hacks…at least not if what won today was an indication of the norm. The horse looked crippled in the lack of articulation in ALL the leg joints. As there were so many, we didn’t get done quite as early as I thought, but we rode around a bit, then Charlotte warmed up, she’d gotten the 11th spot in the list, I wasn’t until 18. After we watched her go, we warmed up over the practice fences. Bali was very well behaved and I have to keep moving her up and making her go. A different ride!

They were standard hunter courses, very well decorated with inviting ground lines. Bali didn’t even peek at much, but I had a few deep spots, a chip, and it wasn’t the smoothest of rounds, but she was completely respectable for her 2nd 3rd hunter show with fences.

Good bebe!

Bali went to the show today, and got all braided up for the first time ever. She was very cute, but I think she is a bangs sort of girl. Leave the forelock unbraided please. Her face looks better with bangs.

We did First 1 and then Training 4. No coach as Lauren’s rides were about the same time range as mine.

First 1, we needed more forward and she was majorly sticky in the canter transitions…she is not a mudder. The usual, more balance, more using hind end, blah blah. I suck at dressage, but we got a 56%

Training 4, we had worked on the canter in the mud, and it was gorgeous. Then, at the first canter transition, she just had to poop and pooping and making a transition is beyond her. In hindsight, I should have waited and done the transition late, instead of whacking her hard w/ the whip and getting disobedience, because that was the 3rd movement and the scores never recovered and she got a 4 on submission. I was worried that the reins in one hand to hit hard w/ whip might have been too harsh, but it appears it wasn’t. A 55.5 in that test, which was a bit of a disappointment, but again the video had nothing unpleasant, just my usual…not enough.

Next time, we hope for better weather/footing, but on the whole, she was fabulous, I love her attitude, even if she has no free walk. She has a saunter TYVM. Marit will be posting video soon! No pictures unless I find them at the show photog’s site.

Bali has not gone on many trail rides. A handful, but because she was barefoot and sound, I tended to baby her feet, as most of the trails entail a fair amount of rocky areas. I didn’t want to mess w/ the sound part, enjoying the cheap part.

This morning we went out w/ the neighbor for a couple of hours. We had large stream crossings (40′ wide) and a few logs to jump, steep hills up and down, serious ankle-deep swamp muck for a section, and she was a champ. We also headed out alone to meet the neighbor, which was also a first. I ride her alone on the property all the time, but had never gotten around to riding her away alone. W/T/C, and a short hand gallop, and all was pleasant.

She is fat as a tick though, the saddles that were fitting 3 weeks ago….a bit tight… Spring grass.

Had a jumping lesson today on Bali with Sonya. We went over to Foxcroft, which had quite a lot of fences set up, well decorated.

Sonya had never been there so I explained the drill, gave her the message number line, and she was most impressed with the facility.

We initially worked on me owning the shoulders. And, fixing my Bali-lean. I do not lean like this on other horses, but I want to lean into my turns on Bali, a LOT. Must.Fix.Now.

I worked on sitting up straight, fixing that lean, weighting the correct leg/seat. Shortening my reins, and I had a lightbulb moment. Like many lightbulbs, this is a “DUH” when written, but Sonya kept saying, “shorten your reins, but give, do not pull” and the lightbulb was that shorter reins don’t mean I have to suddenly have a harder feel/pull going on. My arms are allowed to move and I just need to get used to the changed arm position and riding with the shorter reins.

Then, onto my toes. I’ve had enough years of DQ drilling about keeping the toes parallel to the horse that I have a fixation on keeping that way. Which means, I am rarely using my spur on the horse. So, I am practicing turning my toe out and USING the spur in a backward/forward motion on the side. Being right handed, this was easier on the right leg, but I’m working on it on the left. We ended up cowboying around a fair amount with me absorbing these concepts of short reins, but give and spur IN the horse, not next to…and we rode as if we were in a jump off a few times, because Bali is a cold, slow diesel engine and we gotta get her revved up!

It was a great lesson and I’m going to go back on Weds (as soon as I check the hotline for ring availability) and Sonya will probably ride her some, see if she can jazz her up a bit for me, then I can hop on and get a feel for what she is looking for.

Great lesson….and I need squared end spurs, I have really soft, rounded ones now.
Oh, May 12, she is 5. No more bebe.

5 year olds are big horses, and have big horse expectations.

Tonight, I had a dressage lesson. She was good, but still, behind my leg. Bigger spurs are definitely on my list, but Lauren was wondering what I feed her (not much) and I may start looking into a higher energy feed for her. Either that, or Lauren thinks she might be about to hit another growth spurt. She was tired, and that might also be being out in the rain for the past 2 days. I’m actually starting to think she’d do better with more stall time, as she naps in her stall, I think more than in the field, so she might just be tired.

It was a good lesson, working on connection to the outside rein, I got a few steps of lengthening a couple of times, we had some galloping canters to insist on moving off my leg. She never was huffing or puffing, but she was sweating a lot after all that canter work.

I’m thinking I might add in a few more trail rides with gallops. I did that once a week with Sparkle and it helped a lot with our forward, although with her, it was more cardio, she was just plain winded too often. I don’t think Bali is unfit, she just needs to find forward more fun. My job is to figure out how to make it more fun. I’m a bit concerned I’m making it a bit too much like hard work, and Bali just wants to hang with her people and do what they want, so long as it isn’t TOO hard.

Oh, and a consistent them on controlling the shoulders. And less inside rein, more outside rein and getting her more off my legs.

I’ve not posted the pics from the hunter show, so here are a few…

Warmup fence….that dude was totally checking her out in a lot of pictures.
An almost decent one, in the ring.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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