The Archives 2/21/10 – 6/16/10 Sparkle

wheee!!! Sparkle was forward today. ;D 😮

She was so appreciative of having footing, that she even galloped! But, mincing around in the snow has made her very tight and VERY crooked.

We trotted a bit, and I was having a hard time getting her straight on the circle, particularly right, so I was working on bringing her shoulders in, and moving her haunches out. After a few circles, we went down the longside, to try straight…that was hysterical. The mirror was awesome, because a drunken sailor is more straight than that. She had so many evasions to using herself to carry, that it was shoulder in, no, shoulder out, no, haunches in, no shoulder in, no, leg yeild, no, shoulder out…all the way down the long side. I was giggling at how difficult this was, how many corrections I was needing to do, and we worked on it again. Finally found some straightness, then went on to canter.

We started canter going left, and it was pretty nice. We used all that forward to work on canter/walk transitions, again, me not doing my little tug, but coming from my back. Then, we changed directions, and oh my…all that resistance to going straight was back! Along with tail swishes, drama queen, and I let her have a gallop to stretch out things. that did help a lot, but we never did as many transitions on this side because we were working on suppleness and keeping that shoulder over and those haunches out.

It was a very fun lesson and it was funny how much she wanted to GO! She is definitely stiffer than normal, which I attribute to her hating moving in the snow.

Took Sparkle again tonight and she was awesome! After working on the usual “more round, more connection, more consistency” we did some lengthen-ings, using trot poles and after that, went through the lateral work. Leg yield, shoulder in, then after the shoulder in was looking good, I was to weight my inside seatbone a bit, add a bit of the inside leg and see if it turned into half pass….and it did! It was pretty cool. Sparkle may never get top scores – because she is not exactly built for dressage, but she is wickedly fun to learn on and so incredibly honest in her work ethic.

Then I changed a tire on the trailer. I think I have magnets in my tires instead of steel belts…

OK, so a bit more details, the above notes were missing those! The neck placement in work, last night in the quest for more connection and roundness (Sparkle likes to be about 20-30 degrees in front of the vertical…5 degrees in front of the vertical is really engaged and hard for her) I was to take a shorter contact, get the engagement and connection and then lengthen her neck out from there. Instead of trying to engage and collect back into more connection from a longer neck. It seemed to do nicely, and I also need to watch that she doesn’t give me bend instead of flexion when I ask for flexion. She will bend before she flexes at the poll, I have to work to correct that.

On the halfpass, I was in shoulder in, making sure to anchor her hips with my outside seatbone and keep her moving forward with my outside leg, a lightly supporting inside leg, and then to turn it into half-pass, I would shift a tiny bit more emphasis to my inside seatbone and add a bit more inside leg, which almost seems counter-intuitive since she is moving into that inside leg directionally with the half-pass, but it really seemed to work. And it isn’t like she is a “schoolmaster” that I’m learning on, she is just amazingly honest and a trier.

This morning she was “all that and a bag of chips” out in the field, bucking and kicking up her heels. It is always funny to see her after a really good lesson/ride, she acts more athletic in the field the next few days.

Last night I took Sparkle to my lesson. Once I jump started my truck (doh! left keys in AC position w/ radio on for 2 days) and got there late, Sparkle was having a rare, mare day. She was super-duper sensitive to the leg, and so I did a long warmup, and she felt sound, but I suspect she is having her first big season of the year.

But, while I was doing the long warm up, I started to ask about figuring out what is the weakness I have that is contributing to/causing my moving hands…

So, a short discussion on what muscles am I engaging when I use the reins? Hmm, I thought about it, and couldn’t really come up with a clear set, so Lauren noticed that while I thought about it, my hands became quiet. So, forearm muscle should be main one, then some triceps, keeping the biceps relaxed so the elbows can follow…

I played with this some, and also carried it over to my rides this morning, seeing if I will ever fix my hands .

I did some leg yields, playing with them, making them steeper, more forward, slower, bigger steps, etc. Then, after that, we did some lengthen 1/2 the diagonal, leg yield the second half, and then the opposite. I think that is a good exercise for Sparkle for this, and I’ll play with it on Bali some as well.

Sparkle is truly fun to ride, her lateral work is so easy compared to Bali (or Tanq’s nearly non-existent).


Oooh, pictures are up already!!! Coats were waived, it was really hot today, so I went with no coat.

First off, her pretty picture.

And this expression on her face, this is why I take her to shows. She loves it!

She could be a little rounder, but it would be tough to be much cuter!

And now, to bed with me. I have jury duty tomorrow and have to be there at 8am.

If I did not know how much Sparkle is loved by all, I might take offense… 😮

Bali did not get any love in the blog this week, but Sparkle did!

And it makes me laugh.

“student Mel, whose wonderful Appaloosa-QH cross moves a little like a Jack Russell on linoleum, getting a 65 percent at first level, little spotted legs and all; ”

Since I have two horses qualified for the BLMs at First level this year, I think I am supposed to be planning on going.
Lauren has many “off breeds” that she works with and rides and she is never anything less than encouraging. She also knows that I have a generous sense of humor and would likely not take offense, and she knows that a score over 65 for a horse like her is a HUGE deal for me. Honestly, I was starting to give up on ever getting out of the 50s, and had gotten a couple of 60.1 type scores, but her conformation does not lend itself to great scores. And I know it was the generous judge who gave us those scores, but I’ll take those, happily! I would way rather have an instructor who tells me that I am going to get 5/6 on my horse in the ring, even though it was an 8/9 for that horse, than the one who blows sunshine up my ass about how awesome it is, because then, I end up at a show, and feel terrible because I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

The truth of the matter is, Sparkle is er….an egg beater, to put it kindly. Sparkle is also one of Lauren’s favorite horses because she has such an awesome work ethic and brain. And, Lauren is always encouraging to me taking Sparkle out, even at 2nd level, knowing that she has a student whose horse is trying her heart out will be lucky to get a 60…Sparkle can do a gorgeous leg yield, or shoulder in, that would get 8’s on a conventional horse, and she’ll get 5…6 if we are lucky. Everyone loves Sparkle…but the judges!
Sparkle does not love the jumping, I keep hoping she’ll at least be tolerable at it, because she is wickedly cute over fences. But, her er…style…of expressing her lack of love/confidence, is to hold that QH sliding stop, in reserve. Thus, I tend to ride defensively….in the back seat, then, she almost stops, but deer-leaps over, and sometimes, I kinda stay with her, other times, I get left WAY behind and hit her in the mouth. She gets better after 2 or 3, and what I’m hoping is that regular jumping over tiny stuff will help her relax over that first one, and that a few lessons will give ME techniques (or maybe just practice) to ride that movement smoothly.

Now, the pictures.


the frustrating launch.
next attempt
I really don’t want to hit her in the mouth…an automatic release is almost a requirement for her. That was one discovery.
After a break, it is almost like starting over. ::)
there might be hope. She shows definite improvement as the lesson goes on.
combination of toe-out to 45 and a sticky ride is perhaps why Sonya said my leg is better on Sparkle than Bali…

If we had a 12 year old girl, with pigtails on this horse, and they did this at local hunter shows….they might just clean up.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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