Saturday, December 7, 2013

Storey Mill Fun Show

So I am way too lazy (and tired, at this point) to retype up everything that happened today. Instead, I'm copying and pasting from where I posted it somewhere else. :)


So woke up this morning with the pitter patter of rain outside and was like OHNOES I HAVE A THING TO GO TO. But they'd said they wouldn't cancel as long as it wasn't I just got up and got ready and went and grabbed the pony and trailered him down the road. A nearby farm was having a "fun show" which really mostly means come as you are and do some show type classes. I had meant to get Kieran cleaner before we got there (if I'd realized it was going to warm up as much as it did, I would've just bathed him) but between rain and mud..well, I did the best I could (he looks better in the pics at least, hah).

So the first part of the day they had in hand class, a lead line class, a few "go as you please" classes (w/t for everybody, then w/t for spotted horses [hah], then w/t/c open), some western classes, two english classes (the second one was w/t/c and it was only me and another lady. The judge had to keep coming up with different things for us to do before she could make a decision because apparently we were pretty closely matched), some games (ribbon race, egg and spoon, red light greenlight) and obstacle course. Most people did that last one in hand, but three of us did it riding.

Everybody was in love with Kieran...I think if I'd said he was for sale, somebody would've made me an offer. Several people invited me to go riding with them (yay, horsey friends). We did really well, and actually ended up winning the high point award at the end (which included a pretty horse-head shaped wreath).

We did, however, fail at red light green light, LOL. Kieran did find with the going and stopping thing. But he didn't want to stand still once stopped so we got disqualified pretty quick, alas. :lol:

The obstacle course was mostly good. There were two options for using the rain slicker, you could just pick it up and drape it in front of the saddle, or you could put it on for bonus. We'd done a rain slicker before at a competitive trail ride so I figured he'd have no problem with me putting it on. That slicker had been rather smaller though and a much less offensive color. So Kieran was fine with the picking up but the putting on...well. Not so much. We got it sorted though and no harm done. Anyway, there's video of that.




We're way on the end.

This was the other obstacle he had a bit of trouble with though he'd had no issue walking around it. Walking through was just disturbing, yo. :)







Obstacle course video:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The return of the lazy diagrams

Had a lesson the other day where both Jessica and I were like, "let's just make it up as we go along....". We'd both had pretty hectic weeks so neither of us was hugely prepared. It was also Kieran's first ride since the weather got exceptionally cooler, I was expecting him to be quite goofy and of course he proved me wrong by being a good boy the entire time. :) Anyway, there were some things already set up in the ring that we just used. Down the centerline was a row of four low jumps (basically cavaletti) left over from our last lesson spaced out in a 1 stride->bounce->1 stride order. Over on one side, on a diagonal line, I had set up a row of five or so trot poles. In one corner was a 2' ish vertical. Jessica also set up a row of canter poles on the side where we hadn't placed anything.
This done, we went through each element on its own and then slowly started putting things together. Trot poles first, then we'd do like trot poles around to canter poles or through the gymnastic down over the vertical (note that diagram is not to scale or even perfectly in alignment to how it looks in the field :) ).

Finally, at the end, Jessica had us do the whole thing, down the trot poles, around to canter poles, make a left at the top of the arena, come down over the vertical, and then up the gymnastic. It was actually a little difficult because we had to make that one (slightly sharp) left turn to come back down to the vertical and then another sharpish turn up to the gymnastic. Plus the changes of gait and that I needed to stay mindful of what we were doing the whole time so I could keep Kieran set up.

The first time was okay. Got a little hinky on making the transition after the canter poles to trot around the turn and come out on the correct lead and then as we approached the vertical, Jessica told me, "chin up!" which actually had the effect of me straightening up my whole body so it was positioned more correctly instead of just my chin...but also it was basically a very effective half halt and we did it about a stride away from the jump so Kieran was like, "wha? back off here? Okaaaaay....." and I had to push him over it without really realizing what happened (because I was like, "wha? why'd we almost stop when we were going so nicely?", hah). Then we landed in a trot and managed to trot up to the gymnastic and Kieran pulled out a half decent canter to get through.

He did everything right, at least. :) And it's certainly nice to know I've got a horse that will help me get out of tight spots, LOL.

So we did it again, I kept my head in the game, he had a nice transition around the upper turn and we managed a good canter over the vertical and around to go up through the gymnastic.

We ended on a pretty fabulous note. :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quick post

We've actually been having quite a few good rides lately, I just keep forgetting to come here and update. :)

Anyway, here's a video from today:

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To the grindstone

We've kind of kicked up our work a notch. We've been lessoning a couple times a week and squeezing in a ride or two where we can. A lot of the focus lately has been on me working to feel what lead we're on without cheating by looking down and on Kieran to do some proper bending (he's much better to the right than the left).

Last Sunday we actually got our first few steps of an approximation of a counter canter! (as opposed know...just cantering around on the wrong lead).

Yesterday was both exciting and slightly frustrating.

We got some good jumping out of him (see pictures below) and we also figured out how to make a jump with the blocks that he actually respects, lol, but we mostly used the other, slightly lower, jumps and there was a lot of trotting in and cantering off on a straightaway and I had to feel what lead he landed on before we got to the rail.

The frustrating part came in near the latter half of the lesson when one of the more high strung horses on the farm noticed THAT OMG ACROSS THE NEIGHBOR'S FIELDS THERE IS ANOTHER HORSE OVER THERE I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT BEFORE and took up snorting and blowing and jigging around his pasture and set off several of the other horses and Kieran thought it was a great time to get distracted and snorty himself. He even spooked when the person parked near the arena started up their engine and then decided for the rest of the lesson that side of the arena wigged him out. Tried everything to get his focus back: transitions, turns, circles....even tried spiral circles which usually does the trick but he'd do so nicely on the far side of the circle and as soon as the turn faced him with the evilscary side of the ring he'd get all bulgey and try to sidestep away. Extremely frustrating that I finally told Jessica we had to do something else to end on a good note because I could feel my tension escalating too because it was just. so. stupid.

We ended up doing a weaving figure eights pattern around the jumps set up on the centerline on a loose rein until K finally relaxed some cooperated properly.

Ugh. But anyway! Pictures!

The jump blocks are finally worthy of effort.

Catching some air.

About the time the other horse started acting up.

Note how I'm looking one way and he's only half paying attention to me?

Yep, I'm still looking one way and he's still looking at what the doofus in the pasture is up to.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Making turns

This morning's lesson we talked about 'rollbacks'. In quotes because semi-unfit draft horse rollbacks just look like big turns to everybody else, LOL.

So Jessica used the jumps from the other day, but setup a couple more attached at the sides between the one in the center and the one stride on the right side at angles so we could go down a line and then come around over one of the middle jumps.

We spent the warmup doing lots of transitions and a few spiral circles to encourage Kieran to use his hind end more in preparation for the turns. I got a really nice canter out of him after we came out of one of the spirals and I just sat and asked for the canter. Just nice. He didn't really approve of all the transitions, though. I kept choosing meandering paths around the ring instead of just going on the fenceline and then asking for random transitions and he was totally like, "wait....what? this is now how warming up works lady!" :)

Anyway, a couple of pictures and a couple of videos.

Kind of a weird point. This was early on we went down the two stride to the arena fence, then turned and came back to this guy. (the fence all the way over on the other side of the lattice is the end of the two stride)

We had a little difficulty with this exercise, actually. We've made a habit, you know, of kind of cutting the corner after we come off a line like that so Kieran tried the first time or two to cut the corner and then I'm like NO NO WE HAVE TO GO BACK UP TO THAT FENCE WE WON'T MAKE IT LIKE THIS. So Jessica had us go over the two stride and keep cantering straight and halt at the arena fence a couple times until we got it down firm that he has to wait for me to tell him to turn, not just assume what we're going to do. So here's a video of one of those:

This was actually accidental, Jessica had the camera running while we were discussing what we'd been doing and what we'd be doing next. I just like how relaxed Kieran looks here.

Just a moment of one of the jumps, Yeah, his form is not quite as good as it was before our break, but I think mine has improved a bit. Mostly I just keep thinking about 'folding' and pushing my hands forward up his neck instead of throwing my whole body forward. I think it's paying off. :)

This was the last exercise of the ride. Basically we were riding a big circle with jumps in between. The last jump we came in a little weird but we kept a pretty good tempo going and there was no  knocking anything down or bowling over anything, LOL. So we'll call it a win.

Kieran got to be cooled out by walking around with one of the other boarders' moms. She had mentioned a while back how cool she thought he was and I'd told her if we were ever there at the same time and I was riding, she could hop on and have a pony ride. She doesn't ride much, herself, but she got up on Kieran like a trooper and took him for a nice walking mosey around the open spot in front of the barn. :)

Afterward, he got a good hosing down and put out his field with a treat. I've gotta say, I'm really impressed with how shiny he is considering he rarely, if ever, actually gets bathed. But man, he was pretty blinding in the sunlight, particularly wet, hah.

We've worked pretty hard this week so tomorrow we'll likely just take a nice walk out in the woods.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Smooth Sailing

First we were off for like a month and a half (seriously, basically all of June and a big chunk of July) through a combination of weather (it rained FOREVER), work (I kept leaving too late to make it worth getting out to the barn and try to ride before it got dark...which is ridiculous when you think that it doesn't get full-dark until like....9pm), and laziness (the couple of days the first two didn't apply I ended up just vegging at home).

Anyway, finally started getting back into routine a couple of weeks ago. We'd both gotten (extra?) out of shape over the time that had passed and we had to start slow. Long walks, short trots, moseying out on the trails, lots of flatwork.

We also had to have a few 'discussions' about who was in charge here when he tried to test boundaries a few times ("but I don't WANT to work, Mom!!!"...well, either that or just excited that we were finally doing something interesting again but either way, he doesn't get to try to kick out and take off when I ask him to canter nicely).

In general, we've just been slightly out of sync, not working together as well as we were a couple months ago. But finally, finally, last night things seemed to come together and we just sort of...flowed together. He was happy and willing to work and forward. I was relaxed and confident enough that even when he tripped on a tussock while cantering, I just gave him his head and got out of his way, he kept going and it was no big deal.

Anyway, last night was the first lesson since we got back where we spent it mostly jumping. The past several have been focusing more on flatwork for fitness and flexibility (going over ground poles, spiral circles, cloverleaf shapes, square turns...).

So Jessica had set up a couple of things. On the left side of the arena was a two stride with a crossrail and a low vertical. In the center of the ring was a low vertical with a placing pole about a stride away. On the right side of the ring were two verticals one stride apart.

So first we trotted into everything and cantered out from each direction, then we started putting things together, over one and around to another, remembering to keep a good rhythm going and half halt at turns, that sort of thing. At the end, we basically did a big "S" shape through all of them (cantering in and out of jumps but trotting around the turns since we still aren't working on lead changes really though he's offered a flying change a couple times).

Some notes:
Jessica laughed at me about the tripping thing I mentioned up above because I always go on about how I'm not as balanced as I should be, etcetc but here was proof I could stay exactly where I need to be on him and not freak out. She pointed out that there was a time if something like that had happened, I would've been "hugging his neck to stay on".

Kieran continues to show us he's thinking about the questions we're asking of him. It's really amazing, really, to see his horsey brain go through the process and figure out how to get through things.

Jessica mentioned my two point last night, particularly through the one stride, was some of the best she's seen out of me so far. I've basically been thinking really hard about pushing my hands forward and "folding" instead of throwing myself up out of the saddle like I'm wont to do.

Sometimes in the past, when we finish a combination, Kieran will try to drop back into a walk because so often we've done one, then stopped to talk about how it went before we went to do it again or move on to something else. Trying to break myself of that habit too and last night he was quite willing to keep cantering after the combos and let me guide him around the ring or over another one before we stopped.

No pictures, alas, as I forgot my camera, but I do wonder if it helped me to relax knowing there wasn't the "all seeing eye" on me, LOL. Though I really do think getting pics/vid of lessons has helped me since I can go through them frame by frame and really watch what we're doing and how we can improve it.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Beautiful Weather

Had a lesson last Thursday night...Jessica set up four jumps about 2'3" high on the inside track of the arena so there was a combination that was a "good four strides, or a long three strides" on one side, and a plain old five stride on the other. It was pretty much old hat for Kieran, but we worked on, after trotting into everything, cantering in, through, and out. I had to count strides and think about my position. Kieran did a lot of the rest. ;)

Yesterday, we went on a nice hour-long trail ride, mostly walking, but I figure we covered about 4 miles or so. I really wish I had some kind of gps thing so I could get a good idea of how far we actually travel when we go out. I may have to look into that.

Today we had another lesson...similar setup to Thursday, except Jessica added in two more jumps (18") in the middle that were on diagonals (he usually doesn't really respect the jumps we do using jump blocks now, but he actually cantered nicely out of them each time today).

Anyway, the setup looked something like this:

The red line just shows an example of the order we took them. We did it from several different directions and combinations.

Kieran was actually a champ the whole time. His issue is getting strong to the fences and so I really have to think about sitting up straight and deep and telling him to wait...without telling him to wait too hard or then we lose impulsion, LOL. I've been thinking a lot about pushing my hands forward and folding my body instead of just sort of throwing myself up forward out of the saddle entirely and I think it's working...slowly. I do think my leg has improved tons lately, though I still need to really work on using my calf more instead of balancing mostly off my feet.

Anyway, here's a couple of screencaps and some video below that.

Cantering the whole course. Included the bit at the beginning for the turn on the haunches (we've been working on it, he actually mostly pivoted on the one hind leg this time ) and the discussion about things being _my_ idea and not his and that's why we had to do the big circle.

Jessica is all like "perfect!" but we come in wonky and stuff so what's that about? Well...apparently _I_ was getting backed of that first fence and it was communicated to Kieran so we didn't come in very well _but_ I was still able to push him through it. In the past, if that had happened, he might have actually tried to duck out to the side of the second fence or I would've been like "agh this isn't working whoa!". So there's the improvement.

This was actually one of our first times over them so I guess technically it ought to have been first. :)

And the "beautiful weather" comment on the title was just that it's simply been gorgeous lately and I'm trying to take as much advantage of it as I can...though I think tomorrow will be bath and tack cleaning day and not so much a riding day.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Barrels for transitions

Had a flat lesson tonight. The big thing was about collection and transitions. But also keeping it "fun" because every other lesson we've done for the past several weeks we've really worked hard and we didn't want me or Kieran to get ring sour. ;)

So anyway, Jessica had a line of cones to weave through on one side of the ring and then also had set up the three barrels in barrel racing configuration. So we started by talking about there are three places when going around the barrel we'd have to half halt to make it around without going too wide or hitting the barrel. The first is a stride or two away when you're coming in to tell the horse to get back on its butt, the second is as you get to the barrel to get him ready to make the turn around, and the last is to balance him coming out of the barrel about halfway around, basically.

So we did the whole pattern at a walk, first and instead of half halting, she had us halt three times around each barrel (what was funny was how Kieran was totally power walking between the barrels without much prompting on my part. No trudging tonight!). Then she had us trot in, go down to a walk around the barrel, trot to the next one, walk around, and so on. Then we had to trot all the way around with the half halts at the appropriate spots.

Then we took a little mental break and did the cones, which were just close enough that to weave through them, he couldn't just trot through like a maniac (by that time, all the extended trotting between the barrels and running for home had him a little excited, hah), he had to really get back on his but and give me a nice collected trot. Then we let him relax with some free walking and went back to the barrels, this time cantering up to the first one, slowing down to a trot around it, extended trot to the next one, collected trot around it, letting him canter to the last, trot around, then canter for home.

That was way more difficult, really, because we've (I've) been lax on schooling him in good downward transitions from the canter. I mean, going down to trot is okay but it's usually a little strung out for a stride or two, which wouldn't work for this exercise.

But after we'd done that reasonably well but not great, we switched gears and just schooled downward transitions a bit for each direction before we went back and did the barrel pattern one more time and then we could cool out.

But not before I asked Kieran on a turn on the forehand and he did it perfectly like, his left front didn't move an inch from where it was on the ground and he actually pivoted completely around it. That was the best note we could've ended on really because it's the first time he's done it without shifting at least a bit. Then lots of walking to cool out and a quick spritz with the hose to get the sweat off and some carrot stretches. He then proceeded to immediately go roll when I put him out in the field. I wasn't surprised. :)

Anyway, it made for a good horsey evening.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wow, a whole month....

I promise I've been riding more than that, I just kept forgetting to update. Anyway. Well. I have a truck now that's all my own. And a brand new trailer. So I'm hoping that soon I will be able to post, "we went to Hitchcock Woods!" or "we schooled over in Aiken!" or even, "we went to a show!". :) We'll see. Anyway, in the mean time, we had a lesson today. We've been working a lot on good, careful turns. So today, Jessica had a few jumps set up like so: 

The ones in the middle were two stride combinations. That is, the two parallel to each other were a straight two stride. And then you could go from the one on the right to the one catty-corner on a bending line with two strides.

Down in the corners, they were ground poles, one stride, low vertical, one stride, ground pole. Basically jumping on a bend so it took a lot of work to look ahead to where we were really going and not just thinking "look straight ahead!" because that wasn't really the case, LOL.

Kieran did pretty well. He did run out on the jump to the left once but it was pretty much because I wasn't keeping him between my legs and I let him drift to the side. He also got really lazy about the jump in the bottom right corner, but it was just set up on one of the jump block sets and didn't look very imposing so Jessica added jump blocks on top to make it look taller (like standards) and a couple of blocks under the pole to make it solid and then he had no problems with it.

I had a lot of issue getting left behind today, particularly on the second of that combination because I'd be like, "whew, got over the fence OH CRAP THERE'S ANOTHER ONE" hah. Also, though I said I've been riding more than once a month, I haven't ridden a ton this month between work and weather so I think I lost a bit of the strides I made forward in general riding fitness. I know Kieran has too because I couldn't tighten his girth as far as I did in March. Oops. We've gotta get back on the wagon if we want to show our faces in Aiken, right? :)

Anyway, here's some pictures and a video: