The Archives 10/1/09 – 11/17/09

I’ve been in a slump. I’ve been riding, but nothing special. Doug has been out for pictures a couple of times and that makes me happy. Here is a decent picture…except for the ears. And the hideous Elizabeth G breeches that put 20 lbs on me.


Let’s see, I’ve been working on things from the journals. The calf action being the top of the calf and separate from the spur from an acquaintance is one, the canter square from loosering is another. Also, playing with putting the haunches or shoulders where I want in trot and canter.

The good news, I might get a unexpected bonus for the work I’ve been doing for the past 6 months (very happy customer who gives AWESOME feedback), which would allow me to get back to lessons a bit sooner than I expected to. So, crossing my fingers that it comes through, probably has a good chance or my boss wouldn’t have told me about it. I love my lessons.

After a couple of light weeks, this past week we got back to business and focused work.

As I wrote in a boring post, Bali is back to XW, and objected to the W saddle, but, since I had not sold the XW, it is all good.

I have been continuing to work on flying changes sometimes. This may be a bad idea from the dressage POV, but dammit, hunters can do it, so if I screw up my horse and take 2 years to fix, then it takes 2 years to fix. It isn’t like I am actually going to sell her. I suck at selling.

So, flying changes include DRAMA. Huge kickout behind for clean, and even then, there is a LOT of HUGE kickout landing on cross canter.

Saturday, I’d worked on them and been working on addressing the massive kickout, and got a couple of nice ones, then quit. Sunday, I probably should have not worked on it, but I did, and I got a warmblood baby tantrum because it was TOO HARD. As in, we had a few moments of “you want to be a bronco? This is cowboying and I WILL cowboy you if this is the path you want to take” But, she is a lazy girl, and that was seriously more effort than she liked, so the tantrum was short lived. But, she stayed in “angry” mode for a while, and idhokie suggested that she looks a lot more dressage like when angry and maybe I need to make her angry before dressage shows.

Hmm, so, it takes anger to get the forward? She doesn’t really stay all that mad, but it is a more aggressive ride than I love.

I’m still on the fence on what is the cause of the resistance to the change. She can do them clean and smooth and lovely, but she objects. Is it pain or weakness? Is it me? Is it attitude? I lean towards me or pain first, but other than laziness, Bali is not that full of attitude. But, I suppose it is possible that a big enough effort could cause some attitude if we persevere.

I am thinking perhaps a chiro visit is in order. Maybe acupuncture, and I just found out that a neighbor works at VEI and she has an impressive vet-resume including acupuncture, so if I went to them the first time, maybe I could convince her to do an acupuncture farm call on the way home or to work.

Anyway, I think I’ll leave the flying changes for a couple of weeks, work on controlling the haunches in canter, play with baby-half pass, flexibility. And jump more. We need rain.

I should probably get someone else to ride her a few times. Give her a tune-up for me.
This morning was a fabulous ride. Bali was happy and attentive. I probably needed more forward throughout, but it was such a nice and cooperative ride that I don’t care. Not a single kick out. A couple of nice canter-walk transitions, needed crisper in the walk canter, but that wasn’t what I was working on so I did not drill. I had decided to work on obedience to my leg in laterals today, and so long as we weren’t stalled out, I was not going to obsess over the forward.

I worked on shoulder and haunches control, so leg yielding a couple of steps/straight/ly/straight to ensure that she isn’t just falling into it, shoulder in, haunches in, trying some halfpass in trot and canter. At canter to the left, it was approaching decent. To the right (off my left leg) it wasn’t as strong. I did two varieties, canter halfpass TO the center line from the corner, then continue in the same canter, and canter halfpass from the center line, into counter canter, figure eight back to true canter. Did a fair amount of counter canter, worked on spiraling in and out at the canter, some shoulder fore in canter to counteract the tendency of drifting in haunches.

I had planned on riding Sparkle too, but our ride was so pleasant, I think I rode longer than planned and so it was 9:30 when I got off…which is when I should be showered and LEAVING for work. oops. Sparkle did not get ridden.

After the drama and anger on Sunday, it was very nice to have a pleasant, focused and fun ride.

Pictures of the anger…because they are funny. Please, add captions as you see fit.





Her opinion of the whip
I’m trying a new schedule (since I got a bonus that will pay for lessons for a few months-squee).

Tuesday will remain my dressage lesson at night, and then Thursday, 8:30am jumping lesson. This works because Mr. Trainer’s barn is on the way to work and he is letting Bali chill out there while I’m at work.

This means that a jumping lesson only adds about 1:30 to my day, instead of 4:00 hours with all the driving….and when I almost pass the farm on the way to work, it was appealing to do this.

So, today, first jumping lesson in forever…ok, months, but anyhow, Michael just rode with George Morris this weekend, so I got fresh POV and exercises. Always nice.

It was fairly basic, half seat, use leg, don’t pick, more forward is always the best answer, etc. It felt good and we even did a handful of lead changes, more in the hunter way. L to right is still easy, R to L is hard, but gett ing better.

We did discuss that it might be a bit tough to go between dressage and hunters, so I might just stick with the jumpers plan, since the way of going is more complimentary. Or, I could see if I can learn to ride well enough for Bali to understand the difference. I’ll think about it and can always try it out, go suck in the hunters for practice and then move to the jumpers when I’m solid on the pace and distances.

It was a fun lesson and I’m looking forward to my new Thursday routine. I ran late today, rain and cold made me slow and I still had to do Tanq’s leg.

Another jumping lesson this morning.

Today, I was working on staying up, in a solid 2 point, using my thigh and calf, no pinching with the knee. Stay there, do not come back down to the saddle. Bali was lovely. We had one runout, followed by a stop…to which I said “WTF, you will walk over that now!”. That was the end of her disobedience. Michael was ok with that, since he says we are changing the ride a LOT and so he expects that a little bit…which is why we are doing this over fences that are 3′ and under. Once we’ve re-established full control with me in the new position, then we can start bumping the fences up.

My challenge will be the extreme difference in style from H/J to dressage. Some will improve the dressage …more leg, and hopefully the seat/hand will be better from not using it, so she’ll be more attuned to that….who knows.

‘ve been busy and am behind on proper journaling.

Tuesday, dressage lesson:

Lauren hadn’t seen Bali in over a month, and as a 5 year old, Bali is constantly changing. She is back to being uphill and looking “bigger”, even to Lauren. She also feels bigger when I drop to the ground . Her canter is coming along and we worked on keeping her straight. I tend to let her overbend her neck in lateral work, and so I was working on keeping that straight. She really wants to avoid loading her left shoulder…or right (eh…one of them) and so we did lots of serpentines to focus on getting her bent properly each direction.

I’ve realized that I need to lengthen my leg after reviewing pictures, so I’ve been doing about 20 minutes or so of my work w/out stirrups, then when I pick them back up, the stirrups feel short in the longer length. I am still not able to recreate the power trot I can sometimes get on trails, but that will come with time. Bali’s canter is really feeling nice and I’m working on staying back in the canter.

Thursday jumping lesson:

Completely opposite from sitting down in the saddle….stay up in two point. Getting stronger in my calf and thigh. Riding forward to the fence, trying to figure out how to use my legs in two point AND not drop my left hand to below the withers. Somehow, I cannot seem to do both at once. Highly complex to keep my left hand up AND still use my legs. But, I will continue to practice. The biggest “aha” moment for me was when he stopped to discuss that diagonal line. Diagonals are always awful for me in a small ring. I cannot decide which straight line I want to take, and he pointed out that the line needs to consider the turn on the landing side. DUH! Totally made sense and I was instantly more able to decide on which angle to take.

There is a show tomorrow that I might go to. Maybe. It is the right price, I just need to figure out if I want to spend half my Saturday schlepping around the beltway. I probably should go, I need to do more coursework WITH a coach to increase my confidence on my own planning. And, also start getting the jumps to look smaller by jumping them more often and riding effectively to all of them.
I should have gotten to this earlier, but I did not.

We went to a jumper show this morning and since I have not been to one since late spring, I opted for the Puddle Jumpers, because I need to build myself back up.

I have nerves the first time in a new ring with a new course. Always. As in, ridiculous, ride to stops, lean up the neck, and in general, “how not to ride a jumper course”. But, after I get that first disaster over with, I generally pull myself together and remember how to ride.

The first course was pretty complicated. 13 fences, started out with 1 towards the ingate coming off the right lead, I rode to a stop ::), roll back left to 2, merely stalled and kicked on, roll back right to 3, 5 strides to 4 a/b (stalled again, and booted her over after the HARD peek), tight right to 5 a/b, nearly ran out right at both, continue right to a skinny 6, did run out :-X. At this point, I’m half expecting the elimination whistle since I’m almost convinced that all those hard-peeks/stalls should be refusals, but no. So, after the runout at the skinny, I pulled myself together. Right lead canter to the skinny 6, to 7/8/9 which were set on a serpentine, but Michael said to ride as a straight line, I remembered the plan and they rode beautifully, circled around to 10, roll back to 11, roll back to 12, sharp turn to 13.

So, out of that course, the first half was hideous, I pulled myself together and the last 7 were ok. I am not even looking for results because really, 2 refusals, no jumpoff and in the 2’6″ puddles? There was not going to be results.

So, we hang out and watch, I opt to not school anymore practice fences in the warmup because what I need is practice first trips. TONS of those. But, I learned the 2nd course. Much kinder course. only a couple of direction changes.

I learn it from outside because I had nobody to hold Bali, so I could not walk it, which at 2’6″ did not bother me. While doing the last review before I went in, of the plan, I saw the purple ribbons and had to ask “what place is purple?” 7th. At this point I said “I want a purple ribbon! I’ve never gotten a purple one” ;D Because I’m 12. So, Michael is wanting to know if I’m planning how slow I’ll go around to get a purple one.

I go in and my new ring nerves were gone, because it was not new.

Jump 1 away from the ingate on the right, continue right to jump 2 at the end, over to 3 a/b and to the skinny, now 4, sharper right to 5 to the 5 stride to the 2 stride 6 a/b. 7/8/9 was that same serpentine combination, but with the approach from other direction and the sharp left, you could not gracefully get to that first one for the good straight line through all 3, so I had a tiny bit of bend.

The jump off was 1, 9, 10 (Jump off only fence), 3 a/b, 7

Bali increased pace when I asked and was taking me to the fences, it was lovely. Bali’s increased pace is still pretty slow though.

After we finished I watched a few more, asked about the purple ribbon, turns out it was mine for the debacle in the first class. As I found that out, one of the Cavallo riders told me “and you got red in this one”.

I am thinking that a cute, speedy pony must have gotten 1st. It was adorable and not dangerous speedy, just pony-speedy.

I was going to do the next class at 2’9″ to redeem myself over the windy course, but it turns out they were being smart and that would have been skipping a class. I didn’t want to do 2 more and didn’t want to wait around through an entire class, so I called it a day on 2 classes.

I had a blast and had forgotten how fun it is when I do it enough to get over my new-ring stage fright.

I need to figure out how to “believe in it” the first time.

I had a really good lesson tonight. A friend was down riding in the arena, so we had a bit of chit-chat before we really got started, where I was warming up.

I crossed my stirrups after her back was warmed up and was going without. I was mostly running through the stuff we’ve been working on, but as we were just chatting, no instructions. Then, we decided on a plan for the day. I tossed out that I’ve been playing with canter half-pass at home, not well, but working towards it, so that was what we played with.

Right before we started, I decided to pull the stirrups off the saddle since they get in my way and tangled in the bight of the reins, and asked “do you think I’ll fall off without?” ;D She said “no more likely to fall off with them gone than with them crossed in front of you!”.

We were cantering along, working on a haunches in at the canter, working on bend first. Don’t try to get both elements at once when starting a new movement. Go for bend or sideways, but not both at the same time. We started with bend.

As I come around the short side by the door, I notice headlights coming around, and really, it is Bali, she does not spook :P, so I’m just riding all normal, when the truck comes into view of the open door and BAM, she spins a hard left, adds in a buck…or two. I am in a precarious position, which I do hope the security cameras caught at least a couple of moments of….but I center myself, scold her, and go back to our canter before taking a short trot break.

After the haunches in is decent, I start cantering down the quarter line and asking for leg yield towards the centerline (now asking for the sideways crossing, but not worrying about the bend). That works reasonably well, and after a couple of times of that, it is time to do some walk/canter/walk/canter transitions to collect her more. During that work she’d gotten a tiny bit strung out,

We did the other way, same basic set of exercises, minus almost dumping me, then at the trot, my challenge was to ride her straight, and bend just her neck to the inside down the long side. Ha! Noodle horse did not understand at first. We got it, then took it to the quarterline. Even harder. On the short side we’d do a short outside bend to stretch her muscles.

This exercise was more to see how well you can control the parts separately and to stretch/work the muscles briefly to find tightness. It was interesting to see how wobbly steering got on the quarterline . Something fun to play with this week.

I loaned my friend my rollerball spurs so she can try them. I’ll use the old ones for a week.

I might be feeling that buck later. I think I’ll double up the NSAIDS tonight and ice my back. Someday I’ll learn to just gracefully part company with the horse. The only saving grace is that the direction was not the one that Jules took twice when my back got killed a couple of years ago.

Jumping lesson Thursday.

Today, we worked on me creating the ride I want all.the.time.

After the first 6 fence debacle at the last show, it is time to start building the tools to create it, so I can “believe in it”.

Of course, this was the same indoor with the same fences as always, but I immediately worked on riding forward to the fence. But, after a few fences, we ended up working on riding to the same small vertical, with my goal to count down 3 strides out, every time. And, to make the three strides I wanted be the three strides I got. I have to believe that I can make it happen.

There are a couple of things that I have do better, learn when to start counting, get a visual idea of where my three strides are. So, in this arena, the supports are on 12’ centers, and while a stride might be 12 in a bigger ring, in that ring, it is a small indoor, so you get smaller strides. So, we picked a spot, and I was to make 3 strides work. Then, make it work to the deeper distance, and then finally, three long strides, back to a shorter, deeper distance.

At the very end, I worked on keeping her in right lead canter, if given the long distance, she’ll swap to the left at the base, land left, then give me the naughty-no-change-cross-canter ride, so, I was to work on keeping the lead, landing on the lead, and also getting to the deep distance. I used the corner to take a diagonal approach to the fence, that way I could be riding a right diagonal over it, and that worked pretty well. Tight turn after to encourage the right lead to stay.

It was a fun lesson today. I had fun trying to see and create 3 strides out, and then adjust it for the deeper or longer distance, AND if I picked a long distance, making it happen.

Ok, so I’m feeling much more confident about my jumping, but the last round of pictures shows that when I leave my stirrups too long, all my bad habits are BAAAACCCKKK.


So, due to the deer hunting activities that Clifford did last week, I have not had a lesson, because he is in getting fixed up, but I’ve been riding, and other than being Bad Bali on Saturday, after 4 days off of which 48 hours were spent inside due to foul weather, she has been good.

But, Bali is going to make me understand why some people might clip monthly. In the picture…

You can barely see where she was clipped a month ago. So, she got another haircut, but even more hair off this time. She has a quarter-sheet style cut as of Sunday night, and I do believe she enjoys her new do.

She was super on both Monday and today, just nice and pleasant riding. Today, I used the non-roller spurs, and she definitely has a preference for the roller ones, she is much more likely to tail swish and kick out with the plain rounded ones.

We’ll be riding with Lendon Gray in December. That should be fun. It will be my first real clinic since Kottas.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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