The Archives 6/5/10 – 7/11/10

Finally managed to get a jumping lesson with Sonya scheduled, and am reminded again why I enjoy riding with her so much. Bonus, her new farm is significantly closer/shorter than her old farm and does not involve a mile of single lane, dirt road.

So, I’m rusty on the jumping. Got the Black Country saddle back, and it is much better. I need to reflock it still to see if that will help stabilize even more, but Bali has a fat, jiggly back…ok, it isn’t obese fat, but I’d bet she is well marbled, and she is a table, so it is easy to make things go left to right on her. She is not swapping leads all the time now in it, so I need to make this work for a while.

I step too much into the left, I think I need to do a bit more evaluation as to why. This might be a video myself thing, so I can see and then work off the horse and on the horse to target/identify my weak muscles. No doubt the flared up back…on the left, is contributing, but standing more left is my default.

I need to keep my hands up and shorten my reins. And keep them short. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with my dressage short reins and hand placement, but now, I need to get my hands up and keep them up.

I need to make my horse bend in a jumping saddle. Seriously, at the beginning, I totally dump the outside aids when in short stirrups. Why? I dunno. I’m pretty consistent in releasing my inside rein multiple times a ride and in circles/turns when I’m in my dressage tack, so that I self-test that I’m on the outside aids. Jumping? Not so much.

We started out over small stuff as Sonya had not seen Bali in over a year. And, Bali has progressed in strength, balance and coordination, but I am a bit of a monkey up there. Lower leg slides back, I need to turn my toes out to use my spurs(er…when will I remember this? Kevin B. and Denny both said this as well), and when I shorten my reins, I need to move her up into it.

I need to sit more forward in the saddle. I am still wanting to hang out in the back seat, paranoid I’ll go off over her head still, which is silly, but nerves don’t listen to reason. I got better at staying forward.

It was a good lesson and we did everything and then Sonya raised the jumps to 2’9″ or 3’ish. I did not lose my nerve or get nervous. Some bending lines, a lovely combination of 3 jumps w/ 3 strides between them, I worked on relaxing to the first fence in a combination, not “hunting” the first fence, and then adjusting on landing for the striding I wanted to get.

I’ll do it again next week.

Bali has been really coming along nicely in the dressage side of things. I didn’t mention it, but a few lessons back, Lauren wanted to start introducing piaffe . So, I was game, and sat on top, while there was much drama about what exactly was being asked. There were a few steps here & there, and then we left it alone for a few weeks.

This week, we came back to it, but with a different approach. Lauren tried piaffe with Bali in hand, me watching, and that was less successful, until I got back on, then it was a bit better, but the more I think about it, the more I think that I would rather wait a bit. We have a show coming up and I don’t want to use up my lesson time on something that I won’t need in showing for about 4 years….and, I’m not sure Bali is ready. It looked like much of the drama was largely her confusion, then frustration, and the same thing was getting repeated. tap front leg, lift, get cookie. Tap hind leg, ignore, tap hind leg, swing in haunches, push back, tap hind leg, kick out, tap hind leg, 2 steps of diagonal legs, get cookie. Problem was, she never progressed past the full sequence, while in hand..and added in, run-over-trainer when I really don’t like it. So, for now, I’m just going to ask to leave it alone until after the show, and then I’ll think about it.

I’m thinking that counted walk/half steps might be a better way to get Bali’s comprehension, or just ask for less in a session. Don’t try to get it all at once. I’m in no hurry. She just turned 6, so I have no burning hurry to get piaffe…and I have never understood the holy-grail of piaffe (not-a-real-dq)…I think tempis and piourettes are way more cool.

Sometimes, Lauren seems to have a more accelerated schedule than I do for teaching the fancy stuff, which is probably because she is a pro, she is young, and she has serious goals of being on the US Team. And, I think she will get there. She is a talented rider and trainer, and as a bonus, a really good instructor. But, I am an amateur, my primary goal is to have fun with sane and sound horses, any & all awards are just gravy. Yes, I am working towards a USDF Bronze, and then horse willing, perhaps a Silver. Gold? We’ll see. That takes a special horse, and I’m not into expensive horses…well, I could happily have one, but I’m not willing to part with the sort of $$$ to get a GP horse, so that means I have to see what my inexpensive sorts can do.

But, anyway, I don’t think I’ve harmed Bali in any way mentally by giving it a try, and I don’t think I’ll be hindering our future progress by just leaving it alone for a few months.

This morning, Bali was fabulous, nice canter work, and at the end, I did do some half steps with a combination of walking off and trotting off. She was ok with that. I also played with asking for some canter half-pass, to counter canter, to a flying change while on the straight long-side. That was kinda fun, and while I know it was not perfect, it was fun to play with moving away from the leg and maintaining bend at the canter.

Jumpalooza this morning…I convinced Suzy that should should come and ride in a lesson this morning with Sonya, and I had two lessons. I rode Bali first, which was good. I think she is a bit sore on her RH, nothing big, just like she is tighter on the RH and she played up a bit at first, tossing in swapped changes, some cross canter, and porpoising around the ring, until she was warmed up, then she was all business.

We did remedial steering over a pole. The deep, the medium and the forward ride/long. I did much better remembering my outside aids, keeping her head up, and in general keeping most of what we got last week, and then had the constant reminder for shorter reins….I do love to let them slip.

After spending a lot of the lesson on cantering the pole, we did add in the jumps, but it was the tail end, so not as much jumping as last week, which was good, because I think she needed a lighter work out. There was one line of 3 strides, that I think was left at 3’3″ for the middle one! And I did not choke, I just kept riding, it helped that I had ridden the jumps/line last week and knew the striding was perfect, and I keep reminding myself that Bali has plenty of scope, is not a stopper, and seems to enjoy jumping. It is also nice, because Sonya does seem to inspire confidence.

Since Doug was along, there will be some pictures, but it likely won’t be for a day or so…they had another obligation, so I doubt if photo processing will be happening until later.

Apparently cantering a pole for 2/3 of the lesson wasn’t a great photo op…. ;D ;D

But the colors are just pretty, so a cantering shot.

Sporting the fat horse-sharpei neck look, in a sexy bridle.

The only reason I have a figure 8, is because I have always coveted a figure 8….and the CWD was oh-so-sexy and a huge splurge at WC in Vegas last year. Bali so does not need one….but I wanted one.

It is adjusted pretty loose…I think I should have gotten one size smaller.

I see in most pictures that my @#$@#@ reins are STILL TOO LONG!!!! Argh…I have such a hard time keeping my reins short enough.
Back to DQ land, in preparation for this weekend’s show, the PVDA Ride for Life. Bali felt pretty good tonight, at the beginning, it was the usual, more on the bit, more bend, more flexion, but my warmup was 1-4 and there were a couple of minor mistakes, but I attributed them largely to using the test as our warmup. Then, in 2-1, she felt great. fell out of the canter as we approached our second simple change, but I recovered it and still got in a decent simple change. Need a couple more walk steps in my simple change, to demonstrate a clear, 4 beats, then canter depart. Keep her round in her mediums. Pause before reinback, and ask for 3 steps, that way if I get 4 steps it is ok, but if I ask for 4 and get 5…that gets dinged. more march in the reinback. After a walk break, I wanted to play with some trot half pass. I needed a reminder of the aids. Basically, haunches in, across a diagonal line, but my freaking directional dyslexia had kicked in hard core and I could not remember which way to bend, or lead…so, my simpleton’s routine is.

haunches in down the longside, really emphasize bend around inside knee, inside flexion and really push the haunches in. After that is good, down center line, haunches in, to first middle letter (large arena) and then keep that haunches in and go to the far corner diagonal letter. Reverse and repeat.

I also finally got some medium trot, where I think I’ve got it! Lengthenings and mediums are freakin’ hard for me. I just cannot feel what is enough, what is actually lengthening vs. speeding up, etc. I’ve been trying with the upper body back feel, and that just has not been working for me, so instead, tonight, she had me think of lightening my seat, like I’m coming up to a fence (although, nowhere near jump position), and voila….we had a for real lengthening. Now, to see if I can replicate that tomorrow morning…and then of course, at the show!

I feel pretty ready for the show. It will be great fun, staying with some friends near PGEC, going to the gala to watch Lauren and I’m trying to decide if I should break out my new LWD (little white dress) or if I should stick with black…it is a horse facility…

After we’d worked through the second test,
I’m very tired, so for today, the summary.

60.263% for 1-4. 2 4s on lengthenings…not too shocking. One 5 and the rest 6/7s.

60.526% for 2-1. 2 5s (on on the final medium and the transitions), 3 7s and the rest 6.

It was HOT this weekend, so we were rockin’ the 8 minute warmup. A few more minutes on Saturday would have been good, but I used up too much time taking beers to the water-truck crew, and then still had to change. Whoops. 😛

I wasted putting on a jacket. The video guys did not realize that the rings were running early, so they missed 2-1 today. I need to watch it upstairs to see if the video for Saturday is jerky, or if it is my computer. Could be my computer.

Pretty ribbons, and the Gala was fun and I enjoyed watching the Dancing Horse Challenge.

Then Bali showed her awesomeness even more by hanging out at a tire store, having her picture taken many times, with kids, getting hosed, hardly reacting when tires popped off rims, and all the banging associated with a tire store. 2 blowouts within 5 miles of each other truly tested my patience. There was much cursing and “What the FUCK? This is just WRONG” as I limped off the interstate the second time and found a tire store…open on Sunday. 4 new tires later, I opted to replace the original spare with the tire I’d bought in March in NC, and bought 4 new ones.

Now, the trailer has matching fenders…both are damaged and missing trim! Awesome!
It seems that Bali is not nice to ride when I’m not home. Marit took her out on a trail ride and the report was “Bali was a cow.”

She was fine on Thursday when I rode, and Friday, she was amazing. It was one of those rides that you wish you could get at shows, in front of judges. She is really starting to get where all those body parts are, and when I ask her to move something one way or the other, she can comply.

Saturday, I had idhokie ride her, needed to see if her badness would be replicated, but she is smart enough to know that I was ready to give an ass-kicking if she was not good. Then today, it was another good ride. I’m playing with moving her shoulders or haunches in/out at the canter, in preparation for half pass. I try to ask for the whole enchilada once or twice and it falls apart, so we go back to the building blocks. She is getting better each time. Her flying changes are starting to feel pretty nice. I’ll need to pull them out in a lesson soon to make sure I haven’t broken her.

I’m still a smidge paranoid that I’m asking for too much. I am the anti-DQ at heart, with a great fear of true collection…worried that too much contact is mean. I’m getting past it. And, Lauren has remembered my confession of thinking it is mean, and it is regularly tossed out there that it is not animal cruelty to make her go on the bit! The other thing I worry about is making sure her legs/soft tissue/bones are strong enough.

But, I make sure I condition on all sorts of footing, I like to do a bit of road work, trotting and cantering on the hard, gravel roads in moderation. Long ago, I read in a couple of places that this would make the horses tougher, and it worked for Romeo…although, he was cut of some tough cloth.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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