The Archives 7/22/09 – 9/17/09

7/22/09
Sparkle is still not back to the status of a full lesson, so Bali is getting lots of work.

Last night, worked in the ring, rode through 1-4, then went out to the big field with hills.

Collect the trot, to a passagey feel, going down the hill, lengthen going up the hill. Rinse repeat. Did this a few times, then on to the same at canter. The deep grass possibly helped some. At canter, Bali does like to play a bit. A bit of back hump and a near-buck or two. All in good fun though.

So, I’m working on clear transitions in the gait, from lengthened to collected/working trot or canter, etc.

Lauren observed that my test geometry is very good, I really need to work on the forward. Always. I have to find more comfort with the jazzed up, GO and take risks of mistakes. I always ride for the conservative, accurate ride. Not the flashy one…Time to start going for flashy, even if I lose some accuracy for a while, I can get that back once I’m comfortable with the forward I need.

8/3/09
I took Bali to the adult team championships also. It was fun, and Bali was fabulous, and I’m feeling very low about something, which has no logical relationship to how fabulous Bali is.

I think I might try giving her some Red Cell though, see if we can rev her up a bit.

So, I’m feeling marginally better. Which was inevitable. I tend to perky.

Anyways…back to Bali. I’ve derailed her journal for long enough.

I love Baliboo.
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I told you she looks good in red! Maybe we should move to Canada…eh, she looks good in blue too!
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Had a good lesson tonight, where my hands were holding a piece of baling twinetied! I could not ride. Bali was fabulous, I’ll be leaving the twine on the saddle for a few days, someday, my hands will be good, until them, give me gimmicks like baling twine and crops held in my hands.

I am working on loving the forward ambition, and considering listening to “Fiddler on the Roof” so I can sing “Ambition” instead of “Tradition” . That whole “needs ambition” comment is going to get worked a lot!

8/12/09
Tuesday is dressage lesson night, and recently, I discovered that Lauren has a pond for swimming the horses!

Since it was brutally hot last night, I left a voice message that I’d love to change into swimming gear if she had someone she’d like to swim after my lesson. I arrived to find her attired in her swimming gear (she wore paddock boots!).

But first, I had my lesson. Once Bali realized she had to go forward despite the heat, she gave some very good answers to my aids. Transitions, leg yields, w/c, c/w, engaged walk, etc. Good lesson, nothing earth shattering, and we ended a few minutes early to go play in the pond.

I changed into my old swimsuit and a pair of shorts, with crocs as my footwear. Stripped off saddle, swapped into a tack-a-tack bridle, and Lauren got her pony bridled, and off we went.

Bali walked on into the pond, but the steep grade down had her a bit concerned. She stopped with it about 12″ up on her body. I kept encouraging her forward a step at a time and finally, she stepped into the deep spot…and kept her feet on the ground. 😮 Her entire body was completely submerged, not even the tips of her ears were above water.

She quickly turned around got some foothold where she could touch bottom AND breath, and staggered sideways up the steep bank. When she finally got to the top, she managed to get all 4 legs underneath her, and shook her head a couple of times. Then walked back in.

This time, she wasn’t so keen on inching forward, but finally, I got her to take 3-4 almost-swimming steps, as she hightailed it back to the bank again. She was somewhat more graceful getting out this time, and again, she went in, at my request, but this last time, she simply saw no reason to go to the point where she could not touch bottom. I urged and enouraged, and she was there, all like a hippo with just the top sticking out. We never did get in again, but I didn’t mind so much. I’ll try again soon. I’m trying to remember how I got my ponies to all swim when I was a kid. I think I might have swum in front of them, leading, then gotten back on….

So, it was great fun and I will be doing it again.

8/13/09
I have not jumped in ages…well, probably a month. When I walked past the neighbor’s field of jumps and they looked BIG to me, and they were maybe 3’3 at the biggest? Well, it is time to get back into jumping. So, Mr. Snaffs was outside gardening this morning while I rode, so I went out, adjusted the field so one line was tiny (initial jumps) made the one oxer low and wide, picked up the flower boxes and other fallen jumps and made one line about 2’9-3′.

All went well, except Bali was very WOOHOO!!! Let’s buck, let’s play, I think I’ll BOLT! Seriously, she bolted after the first time through the bigger line. With bucking tossed in for good measure. I’m not sure, but a part of me wonders if the TLC product that Mr. Snaffs uses on the garden to keep deer away was part of the reaction. The jumps are close to the garden part of the yard, and Sparkle freaked out enough to almost dump me when he had a bucket of the stuff last week, so it might contribute. I went through all of them a few times, she settled down a bit, but was never foot-perfect, but it had been over a month. And, I was trying to remember to USE the forward, instead of shutting it down.

All in all, a good ride, but then I brought in everyone else and want to say, horses are assholes. That is how I felt about bringing the rest of them in for today.

8/23/09
Bali has started to “get” what I’m asking for when I ask for a lead change! Major happy dance. It is not 100%, but there is comprehension and she is trying to swap leads without getting confused, cross cantering or just not doing anything besides thinking “faster?”.

Today, we went on a trail ride, and she got major brownie points for not bucking me off. I had not tightened my girth…normal for me…but for whatever reason, going down our STEEP hill, the saddle slid WAY up her neck. I was a bit disconcerted as I thought she was humping her back on that hill and that was a bad idea, then I realized, no….I’m approaching her ears. She was highly concerned, but stood nicely for me to slide off, when a B-52 came in for attack. We dealt with that by killing him eventually, then I was able to get the saddle back where it belongs and tightened it oh…3 or 4 holes. She was all jazzed up after that. Not bad, but quite forward.

She was actually pulling me on 2 of our canters and galloped for realz at the end! Go Baliboo Go!

It was a good ride. Sherman lost a shoe at the end, so we’ll be calling to see if we can get shoes replaced tomorrow. Allie came in missing BOTH bell boots and a shoe.

8/26/09
Lesson night. I decided it was time to start figuring out flying changes. I’d played with them some at home the week prior, and had a couple, but I was really muddling around.

So, what better thing to do than go do them horribly in a lesson with someone to set you straight.

The first question was “why now?”, and the answer is…she is a multipurpose horse, I need a flying change on demand for a decent hunter round, and I’m not going to wait until we’re at 3rd level. She has a counter canter, and I think there is an element of understanding and basic coordination to give one on command.

So, we backed it up, and gave her a cue for the lead. I asked for a canter depart with the whip, and only the whip. No leg, no seat, just whip. Not hitting, just tapping. Keep tapping and not fussing with how long it took to get the depart. The first two, I cheated and used a bit of leg to let her know I was changing up on her. She was brilliant and caught on pretty fast. Changed directions, got crisp and active departures pretty quickly.

Then, on a 20m circle, came down center line towards the end, and having switched the whip, added leg and asked.

And it worked. Are they show ready? Nah. Did we communicate successfully? Yup. Are they 100%, nah, but this gave me something that I can work on easily.

I’m completely aware than flying changes are one of my hangups, and so this started to give me tools to work with, for me. I have a clear step, a clear correction (if cross cantering, immediately go back to original lead, start over), and something that I can communicate to my horse.

Might be a bit of “trick training”, but sometimes I think I need a trick to break through a barrier.

Cool thing is, I played with this on Sparkle today, and damned if it didn’t work with her! Ms. no-lead-change-because-you-confirmed-counter-canter-for-too-long.

8/31/09
Bali seems to be grasping that whole flying change. I am sticking with the trick training method of asking for now, but I’m doing it AFTER I’ve established both the canter transition from the whip on outside only, AND that a 20m counter canter circle is also something I ask for. OTOH, Sparkle, not so much. Next week I’ll take her to a lesson. See if I can play with it with Lauren.

My hope is that by doing both in one session, I will keep it clear that there are two different things I’m asking for. Stay on lead I’ve asked for, change to new lead when I ask.

Yesterday, I asked for one lead change, each direction. The first one came with a bit of exuberance, but it was clean, the second was just a nice, change. And that was it for asking for lead changes.

At some point, I’ll need to transition away from moving my whip to the new outside hand before we get to where I ask for a change, but I’ve got oodles of time for that. Lead changes don’t show up in dressage tests until 3rd level, and that is probably the only place anyone would care that I moved my whip from one hand to the other.

Next up, I need to figure out a way to afford some jumping lessons. Tuition/books/moving ate up my savings, which I knew would happen, but sadly, that means I cannot increase my lesson/show budget for a while and adding in another 2-4 lessons a month would be increasing it. I could either start skipping dressage lessons, but since I get those in a package deal, skipping would ruin the package pricing and would negate any perceived savings, or I can just see if I can find another way to jump, have Suzy give me some feedback or if Marit stops by…or we’ll see.

9/2/09
LOL, tell her we need what little fame we get!

Fame was short lived. Last night we started to work on shoulder in. We did some counter canter, balance, canter walk transitions, trot leg yield. Nothing huge, just an average lesson. We did not get to flying changes, there were other things to work on, and we’ll come back to them later.

On another happy note, Mr. Trainer, is offering a special package deal on lessons for new students, but I emailed to ask if I can have that package rate, and they said yes. So, 9 lessons for $397 (not sure where that price came from).

That will get me back to some jumping again, and I can justify that expense. He’s also pretty cool and will probably let me drop Bali off on my way to work, and take my lesson on my way home, which will mean the lesson won’t add 3 hours to my day.

9/9/09
Bali is doing very well, but the last two rides, I’ve had Pissy Missy.

Since Bali is not usually pissy, although, she does get pissy about leg occassionally, but not like this, I’m wondering if she needs a change for a while.

The only “change” I’ve made is a minor tack change. I swapped out to a not-padded Tack a Tack flash noseband. I don’t know that it is the padding, but perhaps that it is a cob size (borrowed from Andi) and on its last holes. I’ll give it one more ride in that, then switch to the leather to see if there is a difference. If there is, I will wait for our tack a tack attachment for her regular noseband, and just use the leather caveson and flash, but the rest of her bridle. I’m addicted to dunking my bit and reins, and cannot do that with leather cheekpieces on the bit.

Other reasons for today might be that I was a bit more insistent on forward.

She is a tiny bit butt high again. Perhaps she is a bit unbalanced and objecting due to that.

Or maybe she is in season and having a couple of mare days.

Or maybe she wants a different saddle or girth or a few trail rides.

Or, am I working her too hard and she is starting to resent it? She is only 5.

Or maybe, I’m too sensitive and she can suck it up. She is 5 now.

I think a few jumping lessons are in order though. The change will be good for her.

Edit to fix atrocious stream of words that did not even qualify as a sentence.

9/13/09
So, Bali had a few days off this week and instead of dressage, we built a couple of lines of fences in the arena. Since she hasn’t been jumping much, they were more like speed bumps, 2’3″ish, but hey, it showed me a couple of things.

I’m woefully out of jumping shape. Balance over fences? weak at best.

Bali loves jumping, which I knew, but we’d focused on getting ready for DQ shows for the summer and I ride alone so often, it is just easier to do flat work than jump.

But, I’m getting back into regular jumping lessons (savings be damned) and that should help. So, back to some basic rider exercises to help me develop my strength and balance over fences. For me, the balance is not side to side, but front to back.

Reminder that my back feels much better after jumping than after sitting dressage work.

Oh, and interesting question from visiting Snaffs Jr…”Why don’t you just focus on one discipline?”

My answer was that I like both and they are complementary, but it would be easier in many ways to only do one or the other.

9/17/09
Bali was great in my dressage lesson…my last lesson in my pre-paid package. I’ll be taking a break from lessons for a few weeks.

But, since Pico needed a muzzle, I was at the tack store and Lauren and I had discussed those fancy new roller ball spurs, I bought a pair of those to try. Bali likes them I think. I need to try them in dressage length, but in jumping length I could feel the difference. The definitely are gentler in the application and she did not have any of her objections. Of course, I’m not sure she had as much reaction forward either, but I’ll play with them again.

So, for my long dry spell between lessons, I’ll try to keep improving her bending in shoulder in, haunches in, and even play with some half pass.

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About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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