The Archives 1/1/10 – 3/2/10

1/1/10
I adore Bali and missed her face in the barn this morning, but I went and rode her at the indoor, so she got a proper workout, and we were following a couple of beginner lesson kids around their exercises (poles on ground to 12″ verticals). It is very strange to be a boarder, I have hardly anything at the barn.

One thing I’ve been working on was that bit Kevin had me doing to move Bali’s shoulders over. something along the lines of “get the shoulders and the haunches follow”. I was using that on Tanq today as well.

I’ll see what I can rustle up facility wise, and then interest, participant-wise, and look into doing a clinic.

1/11/10
This is just a ramble.

I’ve learned that boarding out is not for me. It is actually MORE work for me to pack clothes to ride before or after work, make a stop, etc. It has been nice to have a quasi-sheltered ring to ride in, but the footing is pretty bad in the indoor. I’ve become a spoiled, prima-donna. I know this and I do not whine. This farm is very reasonable, and the fact is, the timing is perfect. Clifford is in the shop so I couldn’t haul out, and so I have an indoor to ride in, even if the footing is not what I’ve become used to.

I’ve been making some “feel” breakthroughs in the past quarter, I’m actually starting to feel Bali rock back, can feel some of the subtle balance changes…some, not all. But, Lendon Gray was great, Kevin Babington was great, and they all were complementary to what I do with Lauren on a regular basis.

Not so much with straight hunter trainer. He has one or two people who go in the jumpers, but he is mostly a hunter guy. You watch the horses and they clock along like hunters, and the people in the barn earn fair numbers of ribbons, and do pretty well in the hunter world. I like everyone at this barn, they are a great and fun group, but hunters is in that land of “I don’t get it”. I don’t get the feel, the objective, but I do get that it is drastically different from the 2nd level goals of starting to show collection. I know, I know, everyone on the boards likes to SAY there is no difference, but to MY eye and feel, there is a lot of difference, which is why I’m trying to stick with jumpers.

I, have too much trot. Supposed to shrink her step for trot poles, which for compression/extension exercises is great, but I don’t want to spend an entire lesson in a little trot. Have her poke her nose out (I’ve been spending a lot of time getting her poll up) a bit more, which drops her head. I make all the usual changes between jumping/dressage position, and I’m decent with those. When I talk back that I’m not going to become a hunter rider we get along better. I’ve had a better time in private lessons than in group lessons, probably because the groups are always hunter riders, not jumpers.

Ok, so that hunter way of going is all fine and dandy, if I had confidence in my newly found feel of rocked-back balance that I’m striving for…what I was getting with Kevin and Lendon. I’m planning on showing 2nd level on Bali soon (it was decreed in the barn show meeting that should be my goal, with 1-3 as my safety for qualifying for BLMs..if I wanna go), and when I feel her dump on her forehand, notice it and get “that’s better” as my feedback, probably on me, not her balance, but still, it makes me nervous that as much as I like going over for lessons, this is not the right sort of lesson for me on Bali right now.

But, I’m actually thinking it might be the right sort of lesson for Tanq right now. I might consider swapping horses in a week, assuming that is ok w/ him.

Or, I’ll see how the next couple of lessons go, and I know I’m not going to break or ruin my pony with a month of riding different. I’m more worried about my own feel.

1/13/10
I was in the ring last night and there was a lesson about to start, so I decided to join. I need to maximize the lessons while it doesn’t require hauling.

It was better overall than the last one, left me feeling less muddled. I didn’t have my boots/spurs and was in chaps and paddocks…with no SPURS. This made things harder on me, but we finally were getting some go. I’m in there with Bali, kicking, popping with whip, doing my best to get some more go, while on a pretty loose rein, and the other girl is there, getting dragged around the ring after two fences. I told Bali to study Jordan, and try that. Just give it a try Bali….drag me around the ring, you might like it!

My farrier might be right…Bali might need some shoes before the month is out. The footing is not kind to her toes. And, she paws the concrete edge in her stall sometimes, which is even worse than the footing in terms of wear to barefeet.

I’ll see. Since she is fine barefoot at home, on my footing, I am trying to hold out, but I’m starting to get the occasional step that feels like she might be having some discomfort.

1/22/10
I hate boarding…at least one horse.

There are a number of factors at work, but suffice it to say, despite riding 5 or 6 times a week, I’m feeling my riding is worse. Most of my items I hate are in the category of “my bad” since these items were all the case when I decided to try a month of boarding. Location and nice people were the driving reasons for this, and the location is still good and the people are all nice…But, the footing sucks it there…why didn’t I realize this before? Not sure. Maybe one ride every week or two isn’t enough for me to notice, but I’ve noticed. There is mud where I have to step in it, there is no evening night check where more hay is tossed so Bali has no hay from 7pm-7am since she’s finished it up, there are 2 heaters kept running in the upstairs bathroom to keep water from freezing, and these worry me from a fire-hazard POV. But, other than the hay, the care is fine.

Meh, that combined with the realization that no matter how much I like everyone including the trainer, the instruction itself is not working well for me. I don’t find myself more confident over fences.

I find myself wanting to ride Bali, here, at home, where my outdoor footing is actually better now that it has thawed…than the INDOOR.

So, if I’d paid more attention to footing, I wouldn’t have gone, and I’d not be disappointed…the hay and footing are the two that annoy me. But, this has been a lesson where I learn I adore my own farm, I’d rather haul out to ride in good rings, and it is more work to have one horse at another farm, when I’m still riding the others at home.

I’m debating just bringing her home early, but really, it is only a few more days.

2/21/10
I think boarding would be better if I had all of them out at one farm. One boarded out turned out to be more work. But, I’m glad she came home when she did, because that would have been a colossal waste of money paying board in Feb. Snow would have prevented getting there for 1/2 the month.

Today I managed to fishtail out of the driveway with 4 horses to go take lessons at Lauren’s. Getting back in was…er…exciting, and entailed unloading all 4 horses to get weight out, putting in 4WD Low, 1st gear and still barely eeking up, but I got up what is a tiny hill through the 5-7″ of slush.

Bali was fabulous, especially considering the lack of riding. She felt great, and did have the need to play up a considerable amount at our first canter, which I expected and allowed. We worked on finding the nice, uphill canter that we need for 2nd level, canter trot transitions, where I do not do my little tug on the reins and we end up in a nice, uphill trot. Some leg yield as I warmed up and then shoulder in a bit. It was a good lesson to try to get back into the swing of riding. The time off was good, I’d planned on giving her a couple of weeks off, but that was closer to a month. I had some concern that she was a touch foot sore, but icing for 3 weeks and rest cured that.

I had to really focus on keeping my long leg and tall torso after so much time out of the saddle.

I’m planning on getting out on Tuesday for my regular lesson, crossing fingers that the slush melts a bit more, because that trip back up the driveway tonight was stressful.

2/24/10
I got to my lesson! Yay. We worked on more balance in leg yield, not falling over, so it was more gradual so she would listen to my request, not just say “I know, go sideways, I’m there, don’t need your input for this one”. So, as she listened, her balance improved. Then, as always, more consistency on the topline. It is getting stronger and compared to Sparkle, it is hugely more consistent, but still there are unsteady moments all the time.

She was nicely forward, her fitness is good, and that helps with the forward, and our riding out and jumping have all been focused on using and asking for the forward.

Some shoulder-in, staying focused on quality and balance, not overbending the neck, not letting the haunches fall out, etc. Some Shoulder-in, then a few steps of renvers, changing the bend. That was hard for her as it was a new thing. She did well with it though.

Then, in a walk break, I asked to work on collected, medium, and extended walk, helping me recognize/feel the difference, so I can be clear in what I’m asking for. How much to shorten the frame and step, that the tempo actually slows slightly in collected, but the beats stay clear, and then working on stretching out to extended walk without losing contact or turning it into free walk on a loose rein. I’ll need to do this a few more times with coaching before I have cemented the different feels, but it was a start. And, the good news is, Bali has a fantastic walk, it will be very hard to screw her walk up and make it lateral.

Back to more active work, we did some more canter/trot transitions, working on me asking at the exact moment for the correct transition into a forward trot. I was off by a smidge. I was told to close my eyes and just feel the canter for a bit. The canter got bigger and more uphill when I had my eyes closed, and after a while, I did have to open them to figure out where I was…I trusted that Bali would not run into a wall, but my circle was not exactly round…then, Lauren was saying “up up up up” at the moment the shoulders were coming up, and that is when I was to ask, but I was still a bit off. So, I then picked up a canter and I said “now now now” asking for her to check, and identified that I was indeed off, and then I said it with her, and got it. After that, she tried another method…can I feel the outside hind leg stepping under? Hmm…let me think about this. And, once I figured out that feel, I was to ask as it was coming forward, and voila! We had lovely, forward transitions into the trot.

I’ll need to repeat that a few dozen times too…but it gives plenty to think about when riding! It was a good lesson.

2/25/10
Bali was singing this song this morning!

A wonderful thing is a Tigger;
A Tigger’s a wonderful thing.
Their tops are made out of rubber,
their bottoms are made out of spring
They’re bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy,
fun, fun, fun, fun, fun,
The most wonderful thing
about Tiggers is:
I’m the only one!

As is often the case with Tiggers, some of her bouncing was inappropriate, but it was there! We’ll blame the wind & being alone for most of it.

Now, to have this much bounce for our clinic this weekend!

3/2/10
Every once in a while I have a ride where my feel/timing are just not there. Tonight was one of those rides. Nothing terrible, but just enough to make it less than smooth. So, what did I do? I pulled my stirrups. Figured a lesson without stirrups would help the feel.

I was also using the new bridle with thicker laced reins, and they aren’t as bendy/broken in as I need them, so that also did not help my lack of feel. And, my back/shoulders are tight and I should have stretched before I got on…

But, we worked on our first level test elements in preparation for the March shows. I ran through test 3, and it was a solid 52-55 assuming the judge saw all the ugly moments. I’m not ready to show sans stirrups, and luckily stirrups are required! We worked on the 10m circles, particularly right. Bali was very braced against the bend, doing all sorts of contortions, so we worked on getting that fixed. Did some half circle/straight line/half circle straight line patterns to work on getting her suppled and loosened up. A combination of moving the shoulders out/haunches in on the 10m circle and getting her to unlock her poll. I was to use my wrist more to get through the brace, not so much the arm.

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About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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