The Archives 5/7/09-6/3/09

Last night I had another lesson with Sonya, but this time, she wanted to ride Bali. She wanted to see how she felt and get her going nicely so I could get on and feel it.

I got there and it was pouring rain (thank goodness we’d planned on the indoor at Foxcroft) and I was warming up inside and practicing some no-stirrups work when Sonya arrived.

Sonya got on, and went straight to work. She was leg yielding at the canter, really working on getting the haunches over, getting Bali straight, and then eventually asking for the changes. Bali was getting them better, but last night, late behind (just one step, not halfway around the ring, because she really will canter all the way around the ring on two leads and doesn’t mind at all). Then, they started jumping.

Newsflash, my horse is cute!!!!

I’d never seen her go, a couple of videos, but I’m always on her, so never see her ridden, live and in person.

The first time they did the same oxer we’d done on Sunday, Sonya felt like Bali could have stopped, she did her little “almost stall, then slow-motion go”, and since Sonya had had her spurs in her coming up to the fence, and they were ignored, she seriously chased Bali forward, to bucks, kicking out, and this went on a good 1/2 way around the large ring, until FINALLY Bali gave forward as a response.

She also commented that Bali FEELS like a horse about to do a growth spurt, which is exactly how Lauren thought she looked on Tuesday.

Sonya went around and jumped most of the other fences, included the roll-top and a gate, heavily decorated with flowers, and she was very impressed at Bali’s willingless and not much peek, but she did show her both fences first. She noticed that Bali is an economizer…really, rather than argue about a lead change, Bali started to land on the right lead. One thing that I liked was that once the jumps were more complicated, Sonya quit asking for the leads. She left that, just came back to trot since she wanted the good jump to be the focus at that point.

After Sonya finished, I got on and did a handful of fences, included the gate and roll-top. I was finding the feel of short reins, long arms a bit elusive, but worked at it and I hard-core need to quit collapsing left, with the compensating over-weighting the right seatbone/leg. I had to think about scooting my saddle left, and it was hard…when approaching a fence. I didn’t want to do too much more on Bali, she’d been very good.

A couple of months ago, Sonya had said “keep this horse” and is now very much recommending I do NOT sell Bali. Her mouth is incredible (soft), she is comfortable to ride, her jump is comfy, she has a fantastic brain and attitude, and she has scope. Her *only* thing that isn’t awesome is that she is not the most forward, but we can work with that. She is not unwilling to work, you just have to convince her of why she should work that hard.

I missed her birthday! Bad mom. It was yesterday, so Bali is 5.

I am riding her with a slightly puffy hock…I think I found the itty, bitty scratch/poke wound that is the source of the puffiness. She is sound, which is why I’m riding her, and she doesn’t even really mind when I poke, prod and dig to find scabs on it, so she gets to work.

I should probably plan on spending a couple of weeks out on trails or riding in big fields as she is just more forward there. Maybe I can do a start of my ride out and then see how long I can keep that energy and forward in the ring for some proper work. I want her to keep loving work.

She accepted her birthday cookies, and thought that she should have more. She is even starting to look more mature. Losing her baby face.

Bali felt nice today. I feel that she is starting to move forward off my leg a bit more, less kick out/objection, but I also was not in a lesson, so I might still be accepting a little less than I should, but I could feel her reaction, which is not always the case.

It was muggy and buggy this morning, so she was soaked with sweat, but never breathing hard. She is pretty fit, so I really don’t think it is fitness related, or even her thinking that she can’t do it. I think it is just a training/communication issue. I have to convince her that it is fun to do more. And, I don’t know that I’m clear here, it isn’t like she is trying to slow down, or drop out of the canter to trot or trot to walk, but that she could just reach under more with her hind end, be more engaged. She is perfectly willing and agreeable to everything we do, it is just that she thinks that B work is acceptable, and we know she can produce A work, but she doesn’t see why that is necessary.

Two lessons in 14 hours, Bali is home resting in her stall, probably sacked out, flat on her side now.

Last night, it was her turn for a dressage lesson. Since I’ve entered a show with her for First 1 and First 3, we ran through the test, found the things that need work, and did much leg yielding, worked at lengthenings (2 trot poles were treated as a bounce…not an oxer, but a bounce w/ a canter step) and then also the canter lengthenings as well. She is getting more responsive off my leg, perhaps turning the toe out so the spur actually TOUCHES the horse does help! Who knew?

At the end, we had a very typical Bali moment. The trot out of the halt was exceptionally sluggish, so I handed Lauren my whip, and we trotted up center line, halted. I asked (politely) for trot, and Lauren whacked her HARD. There was a long, pregnant pause, where Bali was processing “What the fuck? She did NOT just hit me?!”…and then, she trotted off with a burst. Came down centerline again….halt, politely ask for trot, WHACK from Lauren on ground, and we had a canter off.

Came down centerline for a third time, and Bali said “No fucking way I’m going to halt next to her. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, you are NOT going to hit me again lady!”. So, instead, I just halted and asked for a trot, and boom…we had it.

Then, this morning, I had a 7am lesson w/ Sonya. Jumping lesson. I LOVE Bali. She is SO MUCH FUN TO JUMP!!!!! She felt fantastic this morning. I’m getting the shoulder more, it was just so pleasant today. No stops, no objections. I got crooked in a couple of lines, but that was pilot error, not horse error. And, she did tight roll-back turns and a tight bending line. That was good for her. Turn and jump, stay together. She did exceptionally well. She again, more forward off the leg, less up. I was feeling the shorter reins, longer arms thing today. Last lesson, it was eluding me. I was also really focusing on staying tall on the left and not collapsing. Using my left leg/spur especially. I do not use my left leg anywhere nearly as well…which it is the leg that gets numbness when my back flares up, so I think I have some inherent weakness there. I scheduled another back injection for myself next week as I realized my back is hurty alot lately and my left leg has the numbness shit going on again, and the steroid shots work a charm for a few months.

Now, I ended up 15 minutes late to work (not bad at all for taking a lesson that entailed an hour and a half of hauling round trip), so I’ll have to write more later.

5/23/09 – Hunter Pace
Hunter Paces are still fun. I hadn’t done one in a long time (as in 6 or 7 months pregnant with the graduating senior long time the last time I did one) but this was very pleasant.

It was a bit warm by the time we went, we had an 11:15 start time, but since we had a ways to go, it was ok, and Bali definitely had her forward on. She actually pulled me on a couple of our fast canter/almost hand gallops!!!

We did all the jumps, the first couple she was a little bit squirrel-y with, as Val (the other horse) decided to run out at almost all the jumps during the first half, but Bali realized we were jumping and was a good girl. We trotted many, but she did her first coop, which was several inches lower on landing side than take-off side. A small stone wall, a few stream crossings, mud, piles of logs, etc. She was getting a bit winded, more from the heat than anything, although the terrain was steeper than she is used to.

Overall, I’m VERY pleased with Bali. This was a good place to make her find forward, without me nagging for it.

The only thing that was disconcerting is that she wanted to trot down the hills with her head down almost to her knees, and I did not agree with that, so we did have a little bit of back and forth over me saying “head up” her saying “ok, for 2 strides, now down” rinse and repeat. She also had some serious knee action going out in the fields. The paths had been bush-hogged, but not sure if it was the longer-than-lawn grass or just her working hard/kinda tired.

We were 5 minutes or so over optimum time of 45ish minutes (forgot the exact times), but I wasn’t concerned in the slightest because I was out for a pleasant ride. My partner was more wanting to win, but had her horse not been running out we probably would have been under time.

Today I headed over to the Sandstone Jumper show, to see ETBW & Trixie and ride. Bali was lovely, and the courses were ok, some of the distances were a bit off, per Sonya, but since I have Bali, who can add if it is 3 1/2 strides and make it 4, it was not so bad.

I opted to do the Novice Ch/Adults (REALLY LOW at 2’3″-2’6″) for the first time in, and then the low jumpers (2’6″-2’9″) for the second. Mostly because we want her to have positive experiences.

Despite trotting my lead changes, and taking the LONG way around in the first course, we ended up with a 6th place ribbon. (A pretty packed show) Then, in the 2nd class which was a timed round, we got 5th. But, there were rails and rails and run outs and refusals galore. And, I’d forgotten just how scary looking some of the local-jumper riders can be. At least in the 2nd class I took a couple of inside turns, instead of the LONG route. I had entered the 2nd class for the low jumper division, but Bali was really good, it was warm, and she was a bit tired from her long ride the day before, so we stopped on a good note and I scratched from the last one.

I did like the way they set it up, so next time I think I might do the low jumpers, then the Ch/Adults (2’9″-3′) and then work up to the 2’9-3″ being the warm up for the bigger classes.

Whee! We had fun in today’s jumper show.

No coach, but plenty of moral support with some observations from idhokie.

I got there and decided to do my usual chicken-shit approach and ride in the one class in the smaller jumps, then do the division I went for (low jumpers 2’6″ – 3′). In the first class they ran, it was speed and many of them were in the 2’9″ range…in the 2nd class, I went in and was a smidge surprised that over half had gotten taller and wider. I also let Bali get a bit sleepy so we pulled rails at the first two fences (unlike her), then she woke up and finished, but no jump off….and since I was all relaxed and “who cares, no jump off” I completely forgot the last fence until I was almost ON it…but Bali was game and popped over it…popped being quite literal.

I lost my reins in the speed class…over fence one, and never did really get them back to short. But, we went clean anyway…and as idhokie pointed out, she obviously listens to seat and leg!

Sadly, Pico was lame, so Suzy did not get to join us, despite the clean horse. Instead, I had extra distraction w/ Bali, since Pico is the most herdbound horse on the planet and brings that vibe with her to the shows. I had buckity buck buck Bali for the first 5 minutes of warmup. It did give us some forward though! There will be pictures.
Pictures are up already!

First, I will derail Bali’s thread with some pictures of Romeo….because he was the most awesome dude Saturday.
Hoping for the cover of a romance novel

I seem to continue to keep the better position in warmup. Now to keep that for an entire course.
In for the lower fences for both of us, me…letting them shrink again, Bali, because she just turned 5.
Here, lost the reins…yes, this is fence one. I should have circled because she started to play and put her nose between her knees as we started to canter.
Now, if I’d have just gotten those reins shorter…
I believe I can fly…as evidenced by my wings…I mean elbows.
A bit left behind.

A comment from someone on the above pictures:

An observation, though: I wonder if the reins thing isn’t so much a “reins too long” and “chicken elbows” as a “not enough release” thing. She seems to be jumping athletically and pleasantly in ALL of the pictures, and you all look great. But i do see the reins being long. Then I look at where your hands are, and I am forced to recall my George Morris Hunter Seat Equitation and the explanation of the crest release… I know you are vertically challenged, and as such your arms are proportionately shorter than some, but it seems maybe your hands should be planted along her crest out in front of you? I don’t know.

6/2/09 response
My arms are exceptionally short.

But, perhaps you’ve hit upon something in the way you’ve said it. I’ve always thought of the release as “not hit horse in mouth”, and I’m quite good at that. Since I just release the reins when in doubt….as evidenced by my riding entire courses near the buckle, but I think I need to practice flinging my hands WAY up the neck (in comparison to now) and let my upper arm NOT be next to my side.

I’ve grabbed GM’s bible you referenced and another book I have on hand. I’m studying upper arm position and it does seem to be perpendicular to the torso in almost all pictures, regardless of which release is being discussed.

Good food for thought.

Had my dressage lesson on Bali tonight, we worked on elements of the tests that need work. I am working on making the transition between lengthened canter and working canter more distinct. Leg yield left I need to really focus on, it is the hard way, not sure if it is because my left leg is not listening 100% or if it is her stiff side, but I need to get the spur on, get a response, take it off, rinse, repeat, make sure it is not a constant nag. Her topline and canter work were fabulous today, I think it is starting to work, getting out for more forward, and the jumper shows are good for her too. So many horses need to be quieted and I’m working to jazz mine up!

I’m falling asleep now, so Sparkle’s lesson report will have to come in the morning.

I think this will be a two part (at least) fix. I need to get comfortable with my hands higher and my elbows in front of my body. Then, I need to become happy with ONE rein length, that my arms follow.

a lot of the things that are suggested (not in this thread, but on other journals) I have a hard time with, because I have to round my shoulders and slouch to even hold the pommel of a saddle. It is way too hard on my back to slouch, and if I don’t slouch over, my elbows have almost no bend at all in them. My forearms are ridiculously short. I might need to get EE to make me some of those reins that you can set a loop to hold.


About Mel

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

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