Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eclipse Ride

I did, indeed, go up to the farm last night/this morning and did, indeed, ride Kieran at around 1am. Could have ridden out in the pasture (moon was still bright) but I was going bareback and with frozen ground outside...didn't feel like risking the landing should I slide off, half asleep. ;) So just rode in the ring with lots of walk-halt transitions, circles and turns, a bit of trotting, and a short canter in each direction.

It was nice, though I'm sure the poor pony was confused, "why are you riding me THIS late????". But he got treats and a quick roll in the arena (AFTER the ride and I took off his bridle) so I'm sure it didn't bother him all that much. :)

Now...off to work!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Nearly bought it

Hey, my previous post was my 100th post! Go me! :)

In other news:

Yesterday was lesson day.

Since the ring was being used before my lesson, I took Kieran out onto the driveway and we walked up and down it for part of our warmup. Also gave me an opportunity to work on him standing for mounting outside (as opposed to in the ring) and at something weird (a plastic chair, since the block was...in the ring). Once the ring cleared out, we went in and did some more warm up, lots of random turns and circles.

Christina had us start the lesson with lots of transitions. First just walk->halt, stand->walk (halting at every other letter). Someone didn't much feel like standing but he got over it. ;) Then some walk->trot transitions (trot 10 strides, walk 10 strides). Also had us do the spiral in->spiral out thing at a trot and had me do two-point trotting around the ring, then sit a while, then two point, then sit a while, then two point, etc.

Also did some cantering, mostly working on transitioning within the canter. So we'd get going, then I'd half halt to slow his canter down along one side of the ring, then use seat and legs to speed him up going down the other side of the ring. I will be honest and admit most of the time I didn't feel a very dramatic difference, but Christina says it was pretty obvious from the ground. I also nearly bought it doing this exercise. Somewhere in there, I lost a stirrup (no big deal, keep going!) and Christina said something like, "you don't need stirrups!" and I was like, "she's right!" so I dropped the other one instead of retrieving the dropped stirrup. This was fine till, going around a turn, I got a bit off balance and started sliding to the outside. Then Kieran went to trotting (bounce bounce bounce bounce trot) and I kept sliding. (it did not help my saddle felt extra slipper yesterday! Plus blue jeans over my full-seats cause it was coooold) Managed to grab mane and stay on but Christina said she was sure at one point that I was going over and it would've been a sloooooow motion fall. ;) Would've been my first fall in a while (knock wood!) but I guess I'm not due yet.

Did some more cantering after that and probably other stuff I'm now drawing a blank on but then went into doing turns on the forehand. Christina dragged out a couple of ground poles so they looked like this:


And had us go up to the corner on the outside (so standing to the left of the vertical pole) with Kieran's shoulder just ahead of the horizontal pole. Then ask for the turn on the forehand so he'd be facing to the right and we'd continue along the new pole.

Going to the right was crap. Part of it, we surmise (after repeating doing turns from both directions) is that he's just stiffer going that way. Part of it seems that when I'd encounter resistance turning him that way, I'd use more of my right hand but I was also using more of my left hand (which I shouldn't have been doing) thus giving more of a "back!" cue than a "turn!" cue. For some reason, this didn't occur so much going to the left as he gave me several nice turns going that direction. We ended this exercise when we got a decent turn to the right.

Then Christina rolled the ball out and had us chase it around, basically, "roll it around the ring one way, then roll it back around the other way" so it had us work on steering. Also, when it would get caught up against the wall, I'd have to maneuver Kieran alongside the wall so we could push it back out. This tended to involve the turn on the forehand (and you could see him going, "oh! this thing has a purpose!").

After that, we just cooled out (but he wasn't very warm by that point since the last part of the lesson had been pretty low-key, physical-work-wise) and I turned him out.

Tonight, the gals at the farm want us all to show up really late so we can watch the lunar eclipse. I'm planning on going (though it's going to totally screw up my sleep...oh well!) and I figure this is a good excuse too to get up to the farm really late and ride Kieran at like..midnight (the "party" doesn't start till 1:30am). He's going to be so confused! :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

And now pics from Saturday!

Amanda riding David

Good thing Kieran, at least, looks cute! ;) I put the hat on him when he wasn't cooperating by putting his ears up.

Because it started out on my head!

I have no idea at all what I was doing here, but I figure I'll share my embarrassing moments too.

Christy riding Warlock, a former park police horse (not a GG horse, though. But still a draft!)

Christina on Tax, her 18 yo OTTB.

Huh, they did get some pics of us riding!

These must've been in the warmup before I did intro B.

Video from Saturday

So I'd thought Christine was taking pictures of our test when she was actually taking video! LOL. Anyway, here you go, this is our second test (she wasn't up by the ring to get our first one). You can see lots of shoulder-bulging on that first circle (Though looking at it now, I realize he does it to the outside on the side of the circle closer to the door and toward the inside on the side closer to the judge. I'm actually not sure you can even call it a circle, maybe it's more of an elliptoid. ) and his aborted escape attempt by the door (that's where we got the "broke on short side" comment, I believe).I know she got some cute pics of us afterward with Kieran wearing a santa hat and our ribbons, will have to hit her up for those.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Even more dressage!

Yesterday was the last dressage show of the year at Pleasant Ridge (same place we went a few weeks ago). This time, we brought a whole passel of people from the farm and were scheduled to ride after lunch (was nice). There were a few crazy moments (someone got bucked off her horse, someone else's horse spooked [later], a horse got loose and went on a tour of the farm) but all in all, I think most everyone had an okay day (even the girl who got bucked off ended up with a ribbon "for bravery" because she got back on [a different horse] and rode again later).

I had a few issues with Kieran. Mostly because most everyone in our group rode in the class before mine so they all left and he was left alone (except the two ponies, but they were tied on the other side of the trailer and so didn't count as far as he was concerned). He made with a lot of swinging his butt around and dancing and calling for horses who didn't respond to him. ;) (the swinging the butt around thing is going to require a Come to Jesus moment, I think, as it's indicative of other pushy behavior that's been surfacing and I want to nip in the bud)

Anyway, by the time I got tacked up and got him up there, it was partway (I guess?) through our warmup time. And then he was a jerk about standing for mounting (this is really only something that can be fixed when we go places and I'm dependent on other folks for trailering) so by the time we got to warming up, we didn't have much time. I ended up being the first one in the class to go and did the 2007 Intro A test (could've done the new tests but wanted to do the old ones so I could compare with my scores from last time).

Here's how we did:

1. (5 points) Fairly straight entry. Maintain halt, some crooked steps after X.
2. (5 points) Counter bent
3. (6 points) Active trot steps, tight in back
4. (5 points) Good energy, bent outside
5. (6 points) Obedient transition. Clean rhythm.
6. (5 points) Head bent left. Needs more march and straightness (I think that's what she meant by "str")
7. (5 points) Prompt, but looking right
8. (5 points) Circle too large, but good energy.
9. (6 points) Overshot center line. Fairly square halt.


Willing, kind horse. Good tempo. Keep working on steering. Great potential.

Score: 54.5% (2 points higher than last time!)

So this time we had absolutely no problem being forward (and I attribute that a lot more to him being so antsy and "up"). And yeah, bending around corners and in the circles just plain sucked. He wanted so badly to get out back where his friends were, he wasn't really listening to me (and I would not be surprised if I was bracing with the outside rein exactly like I'm not supposed to do though I tried not to do that). Pretty sure I could've used more leg on him as well (inside leg, that is).

One thing the judge mentioned to me after the test was that when he did that, to not just use my leg the "normal" way but maybe try turning it inward so I'm sort of poking him with my knee/toe . I imagine she meant more as a way to fix it and not something I should do all the time but it sounds weird to me. Anybody else do anything like that?

After that, had to sit around a while waiting for next test, so we did some walking in circles in the driveway area and then he was finally willing to stand quietly, so we did that.

Then, another warmup, and this time I got to ride the entire warmup but it felt like he was only really getting loose and listening to me right at the end of it. Then it was time to clear out and I was like...third or fourth. I should've kept him moving outside, but since he was willing to stand quietly (and I was glad for that, as opposed to the dancing around we'd been doing earlier) I let him do that.

So this test was 2007 Intro B:

1. (7 points) Fairly straight and balanced halt.
2. (6 points) Help horse bend in corner.
3. (5 points) Circle not accurate, horse looking out.
4. (6 points) Broke on short side, fairly straight.
5. (5 points) Looking out but obedient.
6. (5 points) Allow horse to stretch. Better second half. (she told me after the test she really wanted to see us riding completely on the buckle but I was still keeping a bit of contact with his mouth because I was worried he'd try to duck out the door)
7. (6 points) Fairly fluid but looking out. Better than last test. Help horse bend in corner.
8. (6 points) Steady, straight, back more relaxed, but help in corner.
9. (8 points!) Straight and balanced halt.


Better! Keep working on correct bend and allow horse to stretch in free walk. :)

Score: 58.5% (12.5% higher than when I did this test three weeks ago!)

Again, we got about midway through and things seemed like they were settling into place. Christina and I suspect that he just needs a lot of time to warm up so he's not so stiff at the beginning (today in our lesson, we did just that and I think it helped).

Anyway, I ended up with a 2nd place ribbon for the first class and a 3rd for the second class. :) Kieran got a couple very large carrots.

There are pictures, but they were taken on someone else's camera so I have to wait until she sends them to me.

Today was lesson day and we did the long warm up like I said. (walking serpentines then trotting this pattern of teardrop shapes in the corners and 10 meter circles at E (or B, depending on which side we do it).

Basically, trot down toward H, then turn in a teardrop shape that has you hitting the wall again at E, then start a ten meter circle and then continue to K where you do another teardrop shape that brings you back to E and do a 10 meter circle and then continue on to H...

Basically gets him thinking about bending and listening to me. He does it much better on the HEK side than he does it on the MBF side (and since you end up doing it through both directions, I don't think it's a directional thing). Even Christina commented that we were staying on the wall better on the HEK side (and it's always like that).

We also did the barrel thing again to get him stretching his back legs under him.

Then we worked on cantering and lots of transitions. First we did cantering all the way around the ring, then twenty meter circles at A and C. Then she had us go back on the rail again and walk ten strides, canter ten strides, walk ten, canter ten (with the eventual idea that we'll shorten it even further) to get him really listening and jumping when I said to go. He did better at transitioning up than back down (kept wanting to trot on the way down).

Then Christina set up a cavaletti at X and had us do some trotting over it (probably just for the change of pace) and we did that from both directions and worked on getting Kieran really forward to it (so he'd pick up his dang feet!).

Then she had me do a short bit of cantering with no stirrups, then trot around the ring once with no stirrups (posting!), then we were done and it was time to cool out. I ended up taking off all his tack and letting him follow me around while I cleaned up the ring. He also took the opportunity to roll. And we played a bit with his ball (he's hilarious when he rubs his face on the ball and then yawns at me). After that, the day was pretty much done because everybody else that normally lessons is sick (and I'm on my way there, ugh).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Online Silent Auction to Benefit Gentle Giants!


So, on Saturday I went up to the farm and said. "Today we're going to work on forward. Basically, if he doesn't respond to my leg immediately, I'm going to bring the wrath of God." Maybe that sounded a bit overdramatic but hey!

From the moment I get on, whip in hand (and I often ride with one so it's not just that I was carrying one when I usually don't), Kieran's ready to go. His walk is energetic. When I ask him to trot, it takes one squeeze of my legs and a quick swat of the whip before he goes. Still energetic! When I sit and ask for the canter, he goes straight into it (instead of continuing trotting for several strides and needing me to keep after him)!

I'm all like, "well crap, he's on his game today!"

We ended up not riding for too long in the arena, but went outside instead and practiced riding up and down the slope of the driveway (cantering up, trotting down, that sort of thing) because I know he enjoys doing stuff more outside than in the ring.

After that, we went back in the ring and got in a good twenty meter canter circle and showed the intro test A to Christine (who plans on doing it at a local show this weekend). By that point, he was pretty sweaty so (and it was cold!) so we spent a while just walking around before I got off and took off his tack and pulled out the big blue ball and got him to walk after me, pushing it with his feet. He's really figuring out that I want him to interact with it (he also rubbed his head on it and licked it, hah).

Kieran may have also taken the opportunity to roll in the arena when I left him for a minute to go get a camera (he was making funny yawny faces at the ball and I wanted to capture them! Alas, he wouldn't humor me when there was a camera).

Anyway, it made for a good horsey day. :) I figure him being so ready to work can be chalked up to either the weather (it only just got really cold) or him sensing that I wasn't going to play games. Or, you know, both.

On Sunday, we had a lesson and mostly we worked a lot on circles and bending. Though it's not as bad as it has been, I was still having issue circling him (mostly to the right) and getting him to both point his nose a little inward, but also listen to my leg pushing him over toward the wall so our circles would actually be the size they needed to be. It got better as the lesson went on and I got more relaxed and Kieran warmed up and Christina reminded me not to brace with my outside rein. Later, she commented that I seemed to be holding my outside hand a little further back than my inside hand (though not actually pulling with it) and that may also be exacerbating the problem so I have to remember to keep my hands even (which, after I started making myself conscious of really keeping my elbows at parallel points on my sides, it got better).

Another funny thing was near the end when she wanted me to just go in 20 meter circles around X and work on things like, "post eight strides, two point eight strides" then do 4 and 4, then 2 and 2, then do 4 posting without stirrups, 4 sitting without stirrups....I stopped focusing so much on "fixing" Kieran and focusing on myself and doing the exercise and...lo and behold? Our circles were a lot rounder! And it wasn't that he was pretending to lunge around Christina (Kieran will, if she's standing in the middle of the ring) as she made a point of going to stand by the wall. So again, we come back to our problems being mostly manufactured by me. ;)

We also did an interesting exercise that I think helped Kieran warm up. Christina says it doesn't really teach the horse or the rider to do anything, but it does work well for helping the horse to warm up/stretch. Anyway, she put a barrel out and had us first just walk in a small circle around it then I was to slowly work toward getting his nose pointed more toward the barrel and his butt out away from it. Sort of like sidepassing in a circle, but not really. Basically the object was to get him to really stretch his hind legs underneath of himself. Later, I got her to show it to me from the ground and it's neat to see. :)

Hope to ride at least once or twice this week before the next dressage schooling show on Saturday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our very first dressage show!

Okay, so...got up this morning and went to get the pony ready (more grooming, yay!). Thinned his mane some more. Loaded everything up, and went off to the horse show. Turned out to be a nice facility (which...I expected) tucked back off the road a ways. We were one of the first people there though we didn't ride for a while (because we wanted to ensure we got there with plenty of time). Everyone we spoke to was really nice and pleasant and there was no snootiness about our non-fancy horses and tack. ;) (I only point this out because Christina commented on just how nice everyone was. Like...you expect people to be nice but these folks were exceptional about it. On top of the "reputation" of dressage folks for being snooty. ;)) I also pointed out the tack thing because I was kicking myself. I have a nice, black Mattes pad I wanted to ride with. I thought about it last night, "don't forget the pad" (because I've kept it put away so it'd stay nice), and this morning, "don't forget the pad". I got halfway to the farm and realized I'd forgotten the pad! So I ended up borrowing a black pad from the barn to put under my half pad but it was faded and dusty and I was grumpy about it. ;)

For intro A, we were the last two riders in our class. Christina went, and then it was my turn. Kieran did get a bit antsy at being left but was overall okay about it (one thing we need to work on is him standing for mounting when away from home. At home? He's great. At shows? He often refuses to stand still, either swinging away from the block or walking in circles around it. Of course, we really need to work on doing stuff away from home (but "working", not just moseying down a trail) period.)

Then it was my turn and hey...we weren't bad! I remembered the test (something I was SO WORRIED I'd get to X, salute, and then think "now what???") and Kieran was generally good. He whinnied (because he was "alone") a couple times, and he did want very badly to go out the open door by A (they didn't have a gate up) but he listened to me about staying in the ring. Anyway, here's what the judge commented for us:

1. (6 points) Energetic, some loss of balance. Haunches left at halt, not quite straight centerline.
2. (5 points) Not to track.
3. (5 points) Accurate transition. Needs more energy.
4. (5 points) Circle not quite round. Losing energy.
5. (6 points) Some drifting from long side.
6. (5 points) needs to go all to long side, loss of line, needs more energy
7. (5 points) obed. haunches to inside.
8. (6 points) Circle not quite round. better energy.
9. (6 points) Fairly straight, needs more energy. Fairly square.


Nice effort! Horse needs more energy in order to keep straight and bended lines.

Score: 52.5%

So.....anyone think we need to work more on being forward? Ahem.

After that was a long wait until the dressage equitation class (which I should not have signed up for, but hey...it was interesting). I'm so used to other shows where you kinda have to wait near the ring till it's your turn and finally someone was like, "you know that class isn't scheduled until 12:26, right?" so then I was like, "oh? That's like a half hour! Okay....going back to the trailer for a snack then." When it it came time for the class, there were four of us in there, and during the warm-up bit right before, I knew right away, "okay, those two will be 1st and 2nd...that girl's probably going to be 3rd, and I will be 4th." Which wasn't a big deal to me, just something I noticed. Everyone else in the class (I think) was there doing tests at a higher level than me and Kieran and were just...better schooled than us. So they started at a free walk, then asked for a posting trot, then had us change directions (which they said to change directions on the short diagonal which I'd never heard before...does that just mean cross the ring diagonally [but not a really long diagonal] because that's all everybody seemed to do...). Then the brought me and one girl into the center of the ring and had the other two canter, then trot across the ring and pick up a canter going the other way. Then we switched and they had us do sitting trot before asking for the canter and Kieran (who had been a slug the whole class and dumb me had thought I wouldn't need a whip because he's usually fairly perky in shows) wouldn't pick up a canter quickly and I was just like...."forget it, I don't want to hold up the class and look like an idiot kicking away at my horse," so I just chose to go back to the center of the ring and let the other girl finish. It occurs to me, later, that part of that problem is that while he normally doesn't require so much kicking (anymore) to canter...I usually smooch to him. *face.desk.* So he likely was going, "but the canter aid has a smooch!" Plus being a slug. ;)

After that, I was the first one in the intro B class and this time, I borrowed a dressage whip from the barn. (though that turned out to not be very helpful either, mostly because it's longer than my dressage whip and I just didn't know what to do with the damn thing) Our scores did not improve from the first test and even with a whip in my hand (which is usually enough to get him to perk up a bit) he was still a slug so it was a lot of work to keep him moving. Anyway, here is the results from that test.

1. (5 points) Straight, square halt. Fairly active, some fading from center line.
2. (5 points) needs more energy
3. (4 points) head bent to outside, needs more forward thinking, broke
4. (5 points) nose to outside
5. (4 points) transition early (I think I was thinking the transition was right at C, between C and M)
6. (5 points) needs more stretch and energy
7. (4 points) transition late (because A was by the door and he wanted to go out, not trot forward), drifting from rail, nose to outside, circle large
8. (5 points) fairly active, not quite to K
9. (6 points) very square halt

Further remarks:

Great effort! Work on getting him more forward thinking.

Score: 46%

So...at least we have square halts?

We did, also...pretty much fulfill what I set out to do. For me not to forget the test in the middle (either of them). And for Kieran to get over having to ride away from his buddy and alone in a strange ring and still (more or less) do what I ask. Generally, we had a really good time. I think I like this style of show a lot. It's nice to know what time you're supposed to ride (and they were very good about keeping things on schedule), nor did we have to rush this morning to get ready (though I imagine if we come back with a bigger group, that will change). Oh, and there was free food! Which we found out about late in the day. But it was still tasty!

Everybody really liked the horses (I got a lot of comments about how nice Kieran looks). And it looks like we're planning on going back for the next show in three weeks, I want to improve my test scores. ;) A couple other people from the barn want to go too (we were the guinea pigs).

And finally, here are some pictures:




This is from intro A (only time we had a photo-person). And my first halt, with "haunches left".







I think this is actually when we were leaving the ring.



He's not wearing a noseband because when I put it on, I couldn't for the life of me get it to sit right (way too close to the bit and just...awkward, I need to punch holes in it).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My horse canters circles around your horse!

Today's lesson, we warmed up with some serpentines (both walking and trotting and the trotting I had to do posting without stirrups. Ow.) Then we did trotting around the rail but doing 10 meter circles in the corners (sitting the circles, posting along the wall, still without stirrups).

Then we worked on going over the intro A and B dressage tests (the old ones, not the new ones) as we'll be showing in them this coming Saturday. Mostly that involved us riding around and Christina calling out the movements whenever she felt like it (as opposed to doing the tests straight through over and over). We did run through each test once in full, though.

I continually have to remind myself (or be reminded) that if I pull on his head with my outside rein, it doesn't actually help (as he braces against the pressure and tries even harder to fall inward) but if I just keep a steady, light contact and "bump bump bump" with the outside rein AND not forget to keep light contact with the inside rein, he goes pretty straight and where I want him to go.

Near the end of the lesson, we also did some cantering, basically, cantering all the way around the ring once, then continuing to do a 20 meter circle at B or E still cantering. And as long as I kept weight in my outside stirrup and kept my inside shoulder back, Kieran did really really well. I'm very proud of him. We'll probably start working on the new canter movement for the intro C test soon (basically: go into a 20 meter circle at A or C [I forget which] at a trot, cue for the canter, and before you come out of the circle, go back down to a trot) as so far, we've really only asked him to start cantering [i]then[/i] go into a turn or a circle, but not canter while already having started the circle.

Also had a nice ride yesterday on my own. Mostly we rode around the farm and in the woods and did some cantering up hills and some trotting on not perfectly even ground (one of the driveways along the barn and arena). Then we went back into the arena and I convinced him to chase the horse soccer ball around a bit. He still doesn't really get that it's supposed to be a game, but he humors me. ;)

In non-riding-training news, I did some work with Kieran today on accepting the presence of the clippers (for everything else he's so unflappable about, the fact that he doesn't go for the clippers [even sedated] is a little odd. Or funny, I haven't decided which. Maybe both). I took him into the round pen so we'd have a relatively open space that was still enclosed in case he got away from me, two pockets full of treats, and my little battery operated clippers. First I just worked on getting him to stand still with the clippers buzzing near his face. We had quite a bit of him walking in circles around me but if he'd stop and stand, I'd cut the clippers off and treat him. Once he was doing that relatively reliably (if snorting and giving me the hairy eyeball still a bit), we progressed to him letting the non-blade part touch him while on. If he'd stand for that, I'd cut them off and treat him. A couple times I treated him while the clippers were still running (see? you can get good things even when the evil nasty clippers are on!). Finally, I got him to tolerate the blade end (he can tell the difference) of the clippers touching him and we pretty much let it end there.

All in all, we probably weren't at it more than ten or fifteen minutes. He still doesn't trust them, but he didn't continually jerk his head away when they touched him (what he tried to do when I tried to clip his goat hairs before a show a while back) so I figure a few more treats sessions and me not acting like there's anything to be afraid of, and he'll settle right in to it.

Anyone have any suggestions on anything else I should have done?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Horse Soccer!

Introduced Kieran to the horse soccer ball yesterday. As you can see, he was terrified:

Now, to just teach him he's supposed to push it around...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Great Ride on Saturday!

This past Saturday, I spent mostly up at the barn and late in the afternoon, I got to ride Kieran. Soon enough, we'll be well into "crappy weather" season meaning if I want to ride, I'll practically have to only ride in the ring. So, to stave off the day when Kieran gets completely fed up with riding in there (and believe you me, we try to come up with a little something different to do with him for every lesson so he doesn't get bored and sour of working in there), we went for a hack around the farm. Which was something I haven't really gotten to do in a while since up until recently, I had no free weekends to go hang out at the barn and ride and it would be too late in the day on the weeknights when I got there.

Now, the last time before this that I'd ridden him alone around the farm, he was pretty insecure about the whole thing. Nervous to walk down behind the ring toward the hay barn, nervous to go up the hill toward the trail entrance. Whinnying for his friends every few minutes. He didn't do anything bad, but he was definitely reluctant.

Not on Saturday!

First we rode up the driveway toward the mailbox, just moseying along so I could get a feel for how he was doing. Then we walked back up the driveway toward the house and along the fence toward the trail entrance. Still fine, even with the horses in the field over there watching very intently. There's an open, relatively flat, spot up there, so we did some 20 meter circles at the trot.

Then I looked over at the woods and the entrance to the trail and figured "what the hell?" and rode him in. He was really ready to go, walking forward and paying attention and not at all worried that we'd left his friends behind. Even when we scared a herd of deer into running off through the woods, he just stood and watched them go by.

We didn't do the whole trail, just down the hill, across the creek (dry right now), and down to where it usually gets kind of mucky and I always have to wander around till I pick up the trail again. Didn't want to go all the way through because we'd end up down behind the hay barn near the round pen where Mattie is being kept and then she'd get herself all worked up (had surgery, can't be running around and whinnying but wigs out too much if she's kept all the time in a stall, so the round pen during the day is a good compromise). So we just turned around and followed our tracks back except, after you cross the creek again, instead of going around and up the hill, you can go straight up it. So Kieran and I cantered up it. He even cantered smoothly over a low log in the way (I saw it coming, was thinking "crap, I should probably slow him down...except he's going to end up cantering right over it and he's done poles in the ring before..." and indeed, that's what he did). It was such a nice canter, too.

After that, we walked down the driveway again to the mailbox, then came back up the driveway at a trot (and a bit of canter up the hill part [the driveway isn't paved]). Did some more trot circles up in the flat area then went around to the other side of the house and went about halfway down the hill over there (again, didn't want to go too far down and either get all the horses in the field riled up or set Mattie off) and trotted back up.

That was mostly it. We also went back into the ring (I closed the ring gate from horseback ;) ) and did some cantering both ways and continued to work on going deep into the corners. Then we just cooled out by walking and did lots of turns instead of just going around at the rail.

It was a very good ride.

And on Sunday, I had my lesson and for a while there...it wasn't so good. Because we were back to diving into the ring (mostly when trying to do those twenty meter circles) and stuff. I was getting frustrated Kieran was getting frustrated because I was getting frustrated, etc. So our instructor got on him so she could feel what I was complaining about. She didn't have nearly as much trouble, but she did say he felt really stiff through his neck.

The verdict on the sticking-nose-out-diving-into-the-middle-of-the-ring issue? I'm grabbing and holding too much with the outside rein and if I'd just let go a bit and give and release with that rein (or even just think of kind of wiggling my hand), he doesn't feel the need to brace against my hand (hence, diving in when given an opening, to get away from the pressure). I feel like a dumbass, but the lesson got much better after I became aware of what I was doing and started focusing on not just holding on with the outside rein (which, I knew I was doing to an extent, because I felt like I "had to" to keep him from diving in...but I was just perpetuating the issue).

And, there we go and there you have it.

No riding pics from his weekend, but here's a picture of the pony in his field.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kieran might make a jumper yet!

Tonight, we warmed up with serpentines (walking and trotting). And then Christina had me either walk or trot Kieran until we got to A or C, then turn on the centerline, and when he was straight, do a canter transition, then canter down centerline.

Well, that was the idea, anyway. You could tell Kieran was like, "wtf? But there's no WALL!" Still, we got a couple strides of canter out of him, both ways (up and down), and I bet next week when I ask him, he'll pick it up more quickly. Basically, just trying to lesson any dependence on the wall (and hey, it makes it so he's "working" in the middle of the ring too and not just out on the rail).

After that, Christina set up a jump at X, starting out with another low crossrail and a ground pole leading in to it. Basically, we just trotted over it with me having to go into two point when he did. Then she would play with the configuration. Ground poles on both sides or a low vertical. Or low crossrail followed by a ground pole a stride away, followed by the cavaletti. Just doing different things to get him to raise his feet, basically.

At the end, it was just between a foot and 18 inches high and we got him to "jump" over it from each direction instead of trotting over it.

I told Christina that if we'd tried to do this six months ago, he'd have kept knocking poles down, but tonight he was doing really well at not just bulling through it and trying to get over it. Yay!

Oh yeah, she also pointed out it looked like he was listening better tonight when I was pushing his butt over while we were on the wall (see my complaints in the previous lesson post about him drifting in and cutting corners). And she said it looked like I was doing better too myself with keeping my leg still and going into two-point without having to think as hard about doing it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Poles and other fun things

Lesson tonight!

After warming up, started out with lots of trotting. I was complaining to Christina about how he drifts in and cuts corners and doesn't seem to listen to my leg when I try pushing him with it though in other contexts he understands leg pressure means move over (like when we did the backing up exercise and I had to move his butt around, or when we've done turns on the forehand, or the bits of sidepassing we've worked at and so on). I can't decide if he just doesn't understand in the "going on the rail" context that inside leg pushing him means "move away from pressure nao plzkthx" or if he's just being lazy.

Really, it's probably the latter combined with the fact that I've been pretty inconsistent about really making him go deep in the corners (especially if I'm concentrating on other things at the time) so he doesn't feel like he "has" to. Anyway, we worked on it for a while but he was still cutting corners and Christina said from the ground it looked like I was doing the right things so she got on to see what it feels like and how he responds.

1. She commented on how much of a workout it can be to keep him moving/get him moving. ;)
2. She rode him around the ring and the started riding him, basically, straight at the wall in the corner, stopping just before he'd "hit" it, then turning him into the wall and going back the other way. Basically, so he'd have to listen to what she was telling him to do and where to go instead of just going on autopilot around the corners.

The conclusion is that for a while, I'll have to be really conscious of not just going around on the rail and when I do, I have to really think about taking him deep into the corners. Otherwise, I can do the sort of thing she did, stopping, turning in to the rail and going back the other way. Also, if I want to do circles, probably better to do them in the middle of the ring rather than on the ends (since a 20 meter circle on the end is basically cutting the corners off).

I got back on, went around a couple more times and when he was not leaning on me as much as before, we called it quits to that particular part of the lesson (partly because I was getting tired of working so hard pushing him around and keeping him moving and partly because we didn't want to repeat the exercise too much where he just got irritated about it).

After that, Christina set out trotting poles and we went trotting over them on one side of the ring, then she set up more on the other side. Then one side was just trot poles and the other was a very very tiny crossrail (like...6 inches). Then after he was trotting over that without hitting it, she raised it to be a vertical (so probably like 9ish inches high? I don't know, it was higher *shrugs*). Then she added in a cavaletto in the center of the ring on the diagonal. (most of the trot poles were being used to make the "jump" and one each was in front of the "jump" and the cavaletto. One pole was left out of the original trot pole group so basically, the ring looked like:

| __           
| |--|            x                  ___
| __         x//

Where the thing on the left was the vertical, the x's in the middle are supposed to be the cavalletto, and the lines are just poles.

Then, finally, she raised the "jump" again so it was another crossrail but this time about a foot high. Once he went over it both directions without knocking it over (only did that once), we called it a night and I cooled him out. He's not really been exposed to jumping, so it was just really good he was paying attention and picking his feet up (instead of bulling through the jump as he has done in the past). He actually seemed to like it and a couple times I could feel him kind of picking himself up...not jumping really, but kind of raising his shoulders as he trotted over.

Christina also pointed out the times he'd hit the jump (not knock it over so much, but not lift himself enough so he'd get over without hitting it) even though I was in two point and had my eyes up...my shoulders and chin were pointed down. She pointed out the last couple of times that he did really well, I had not only my eyes up and looking ahead but my chin up and my shoulders back and that really helped him be able to trot over it nicely.

Oh, and he stood completely still for mounting without my hands ever touching the reins till I was read to go. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I have no idea how to title this

So tonight was a good lesson.

We started out with a little walking and trotting (including some twenty meter circles) to warm up and then Christina had us go back to walking and was like, "at B, I want you to go into a canter," because we've been working on walk-to-canter transitions but still be doing most of our cantering from the corners. So it's something of a big step to do them in the middle of the long side, instead. Once we were cantering reliably, she had me go up into half seat. Then we did it all the other direction. Once we'd done that a few times, she set up the poles on the ground so they described a twenty meter circle in the middle of the ring.

Like so:

| |

Except, you know, prettier than that. :)

Anyway, then she had us canter again on the rail and then had me bring him in and go along the poles. We cantered our first circle! (well, it wasn't overly pretty, but first tries rarely are :) )

Then we got a bit of a break from the cantering and she had us do "dressagey" stuff with her calling out the movements. So...like working walk from A to X, halt at X. Working walk to C, track right, rising trot at M, sitting trot from K-X-H...and so on.

There was a bit more cantering but it was starting to get obvious at this point that Kieran was getting tired (we'd done a LOT of it earlier in the lesson, more than we usually do) and I was getting sloppy (also tired. I haven't been riding regularly). So, for the last few minutes of our lesson, partly to let him cool off and partly to work on something else, Christina set up the poles to make an "L" shape with a corridor between them.


| _____
| |
| |
| |

So we'd ride through it, then back up straight till we get to the corner and I'd have to turn Kieran while he was backing so we could back straight out the other side. There was an obstacle like this at the judged pleasure ride we went to recently and it was the only one we had any real issue with. But that was mostly because it's not something we've done a lot of work on (mostly I've worked on getting him to back straight, not turn while backing!) and I rushed him through it at the ride.

Then, once we got that, Christina made the angle a sharper one. Maybe more like 80 degrees instead of 90.

He got it pretty well. I mean, he caught on to what we were doing very quickly and he just listened to me well (it's amazing how much easier this is when I'm taking my time and really thinking about what we're doing. *facepalm*). After doing it a couple times each direction, we pretty much ended the lesson there. Good pony!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Look, ma, no stirrups!

Though I am riding in the cushy Cashel bareback pad. Considered going without but I didn't want my butt to get all sweaty and dirty so....borrowed this from the barn. :)

Anyway, we've been working on walk to canter transitions. And my big thing here is working on pushing my legs down at the canter as they have a tendency to draw upward. (Hanna said I looked like a jockey)

We also did a lot of walking serpentine and circle shapes and had some practice at standing still when asked to halt. (sometimes he's great [when he thinks we're done] and sometimes he gets fidgety [when he thinks we should still be moving]. So when he fidgeted and danced around, I made him trot out (he was very surprised when I kicked him to go, hah) and then after really pushing him, asked him to halt again. Then he stood.)

Anyway, here, have some video!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Tonight we did a lot of cantering again (like, a good half of the lesson was spent doing things related to it).

And guess who gave me one very nice walk to canter transition with absolutely no trot steps between?

It felt so nice, too! He's such a good boy. :)

Also did more with slowing down and speeding up his cantering. Also talked about bridging reins (which I've never really done) and going up into two point while cantering.

And Christina said since he's getting the walk->canter thing, we'll probably now do a lot with that transition and less with trot->canter. We also talked about how he's sort of figured out that the lessons go "warm up walk, some trotting, then working on cantering, then ease it back down again..." and when we get to that middle part, he's already figured out what he thinks I'm going to ask him to do instead of waiting for me to tell him so next time will probably go more like: "warm up walk with circles and serpentines, then straight into cantering, then ease back down."

Oh yeah, we also did a lot of trotting serpentines and spiraling in and back out again and mostly that at the sitting trot.

And a lot with no stirrups. (while Kieran was walking around cooling, Christina had me first do an exercise I think I've mentioned before where I [with stirrups], go up into two point with my hands stretched out to the sides, then slowly lower my chest toward his neck while keeping my leg in the same position, then slowly back up to two point, then stand straight up, then back down to two point, etc. Then she had me do it [without the standing straight up] with no stirrups.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Working on the weekend

I'll get some pictures and things up soon of the rescue expo at the Montgomery County Fair (Kieran was a star! Who's surprised?) but in the mean time, here's me talking about our lesson yesterday. :)

Now, we only rode for about a half hour (and my legs were DYING by the end of it, I was sure we'd gone longer than that but Christina assured me she'd only planned for a half hour lesson since she figured we'd do a lot of no-stirrups work and I wouldn't make an hour, LOL).

So, I mentioned rating his canter (which I think I've talked about before). She said okay and had me get him to canter and then work on half-halting (but using my legs to keep him moving) to slow down and then use my seat and legs to speed up again.

Guess who proved me wrong and did it really well (I think only once or twice did he seriously try to break back into a trot and even then, a squeeze with my legs and a push with my seat kept him moving)?

So we started schooling walk->canter transitions instead. Without stirrups (mostly for the leg-work for me and because I have a tendency to draw my legs up and lose my stirrups anyway so I think Christina wanted me to work on pushing them down without considering the stirrups). We haven't really done walk->canter transitions. Pretty much every other time I've asked for a canter, I've done it out of a trot so we had to go back to what we did when I was originally asking for canter transitions from him. Really strong outside leg cue, maybe tap with the crop, etc. He figured out pretty quickly that I'd be asking him to speed up so a "working walk" wasn't too difficult to get out of him. :)

Anyway, by the end of the lesson, Christina's yelling at me, "push your leg down!" and I'm like, "I'm trying!" but I couldn't make it go so we backed off the cantering.

And then she made me post around the ring with no stirrups. I about fell over.

We finished walking him out with me on the ground because I wasn't entirely certain I could keep myself up there any more. =P

Come to think of it, though it was hard at the time, I don't think I could've worked myself all that hard because my legs aren't sore today. Huh. Something to keep in mind. :)

Anyway, with the renaissance festival starting up this weekend, I'm switching back to doing lessons on weeknights so I'll go back again on Thursday. Not sure what I want to work on, yet. Possibly Christina is going to bring her horse (he needs the workout too), in which case we might work on that whole "standing where I tell you to and not necessarily right on top of the horse beside you" thing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Someone needs some schooling

So...despite shows and drill team and such like that we've been doing this summer...Kieran and I haven't managed to get much in the way of regular schooling in and it's starting to show.

Somewhere in there, he's developed a touch of herd-boundedness. (OMG THE OTHER HORSES ARE LEAVING WE'RE GOING TO DIIIIIIE!). I exaggerate a bit on how frantic he gets because, for him? It's fairly frantic and foot stompy and jiggy and OMGAGGGHE! But in the grand scheme of How Badly Horses Can Act Up? It's not really that extreme. He did bolt off with me one day when we were all of fifty feet away from the other horses but he stopped immediately upon returning to them (and if we hadn't been surrounded by spectators and about to be called into the ring and I'd had my wits together I probably would've made him go away from the horses again and walk back calmly).

Anyway, he's also been developing bad habits about standing. I think because of nerves or anticipation because at the end of drill team when EVERYONE is standing...he's cool with it. But like, at the Montgomery County fair show the other day, at the end of the English class when everybody's in lineup, he absolutely refused to stand. He kept sidestepping over into David and stuff so we'd circle, come back into place, stand for half a second, start fidgeting into David again, circle, stand, fidget, wash, rinse, repeat.

And in drill team practice, like I said, finish the routine and everybody's standing? He's good. Stand in the starting lineup? Stand in the zipper and wait his turn to trot off? Stand in the lineup for the pinwheel before we start turning?

Yeah, not so much and it's getting to be really obvious.

So last night, after we practiced, I asked if we could spend a few minutes on teaching him how to stand quietly again wherever I tell him to (because we won't get another chance to school on it before tomorrow when we're doing the performance). So first they had me move him out of the lineup and back in and have him stand a minute. And that was fine, because he knew we were "done". So they had me walk him to the other end of the ring and stand facing away from the rest of the horses.

That didn't last so long.

So then they made me take him back to the horses, trotting (working trot!) the whole way, circle around them a couple times, turn, circle the other way, then trot back to the spot on the other end of the ring facing away and stand. He stood.

Then we lined up like we were going to start the routine. He stood. Then we lined up into the "zipper" formation. He started jigging and got made to trot around everybody again several times before reentering formation and being made to stand. He stood.

Then we had to do it again in the pinwheel lineup. Same thing, he started jigging, he got made to work.

He quickly figured out it was easier to just stand until I asked him to do something else.

Here's hoping that carries over into tomorrow. :)

(and I need to remember not to tense up when he does this stuff, but just take a deep breath and sink down in my seat.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is it really such a terrible thought?

Someone out there posts for help. They know someone else with a very old (over 30), very skinny (VERY skinny) mare who doesn't seem to be improving condition, though this person has been trying to help her out of a bad situation and is "doing everything right" according to what we're told the vet says. They now are hoping someone else out there has the time and resources to take on this mare and rehab her.

It's already difficult to give away a pasture pet.
It's even more difficult if they're very old and aren't an easy keeper.
Who do you really think will take this mare on and fatten her up?

Can it be done?

Well, maybe. I won't say it can't be. Maybe the person just hasn't figured out what's keeping her from gaining weight. Maybe she has a parasite load or bad teeth or ulcers or some combination thereof.

Then again. Maybe she has cancer. Maybe she's simply in pain all the time (horses don't sit around complaining about it the way humans do, after all).

Maybe it isn't such a bad thought to consider the possibility that instead of passing her on to someone else who may or may not be able to help her, you can give her a happy several days of lots of love and treats and then have the vet come euthanize her.

I expressed this opinion and, more or less, the response I got from most people was that I think she should be put down just because she's old or something. With an implication that the mere thought of euthanasia for a horse with no diagnosed actual health issue (beyond, you know, being ancient in horse years and not gaining weight when fed what is presumably a good diet) is something terrible to contemplate.

You know what I think is terrible?

Keeping that poor mare around, just existing. Passing her on to someone else when it turns out to be a problem you can't deal with. Forcing her to somehow manage through the upcoming winter.

Hell, if I were ancient (in human years) and were borderline emaciated and couldn't put on weight and had the prospect of having several days of happiness and then just going to sleep and not waking up or the prospect of months or more of just existing with no end in sight and no hope for improvement in my lot in life? I know which one sounds more appealing.

Euthanasia is NOT a bad word in animal rescue, people!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Howard County Fair

Today Kieran and I showed in halter, English under saddle, and Western under saddle and have some pictures and a fourth place ribbon to show for our efforts. :)

Every time we go to a show, I end up asking myself, "why do I put us through all this work and stress for this?" I still haven't figured the answer out yet but we did have a few fun moments so all is well, anyway. ;)

I won't even tell you how many baths he got.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finally, something about Kieran!

So, we rode in the Damascus, MD town parade today.

I should talk about Kieran but I'm going to talk about horse rescue instead

...what the heck IS IT with certain rescue organizations finding "a home" for horses they're pulling out of the frying pan (and possibly tossing back in the fire, who knows?) but then raising money to "bail" these horses and send them to their new homes for free?

If these new homes can't afford $1000 or less (which is what the "bail" often runs) to rescue the horse up front, why are we supposed to feel comfortable that they can, you know, afford boarding and feeding. Or well-fitting tack. Or, God forbid, surprise vet bills? Not to mention all the routine vet stuff and farrier work and dental work, et cetera.

It just drives me nuts that these people are essentially getting a horse for free that they may not actually be able to afford. I know the argument generally is something to the effect that they have funds set aside for regular horse expenses, but the several hundred dollars or more up front would deplete it and then...well...they wouldn't be able to handle the routine stuff so well (at which point I want to say: well save up the amount you think you'll need and rescue one of these horses only AFTER you're able to do both). I can kind of see that (though I still don't like it).

I think I'd feel better with the whole situation if we had something more akin to Kiva. Someone wants to rescue a horse and gets approved as a home or whatever, they can't afford the purchase cost up front (or don't want to deplete their savings, and so on), a posting gets put up and people who want to help out can raise funds to "bail" the horse and send it to the new home. But those funds are actually a loan and the home is required to repay the loan within a specified time period. Those who lent the money can either get back what they put in or they can opt to roll that money over to someone else.

I really like that idea, actually. I think, with proper setup, it might help mitigate a lot of problems I've seen with people donating money and never seeing what happens to it. Plus making new homes responsible for ALL of the costs associated with getting the horse, not just getting one to show up on their doorstep for free.

Friday, June 11, 2010

OMG a post that isn't about Kieran!!!!!!11!

So the big pony got his teeth done today and was therefore not up for any riding. I ended up driving over to Christina's parents' farm where she keeps her horses and ...somehow... ended up riding both.

See, Christina had a baby a bit back so her horses have pretty much been out of work though both have been ridden a couple times since she had the baby. However, she obviously can't ride both horses at the same time so she asked me if I'd ride one and I got to pick which.

I originally chose Vegas, the draft cross (or whatever he is, some kind of mutt) she adopted from Gentle Giants, because I've ridden him before. And he was okay riding around in the barn (they don't have a ring at her parents place so if she wants somewhere "contained" to ride, she rides the circle of the aisleway around the barn.) but once we got outdoors a bit, he started gettind jiggy and stuff and I didn't feel overly comfortable (and I started remembering how impressively he's able to buck when he wants to, even though he is currently fat and out of shape!) so Christina said we could switch and I could ride her other horse, Tax, instead.

Now, Tax is an 18 year old TB that doesn't always realize he's not a racing horse anymore and hasn't been one for a while. I've seen some of the things he's capable of pulling. But today, he looked pretty relaxed and easygoing so I hopped up and...he remained so! So we rode around (walking, her horses aren't up to doing any more than that right now) her parents' farm, up in the woods, up and downhill, for maybe about an hour. It was nice.

And now I get to say I've ridden the dreaded Tax on an trail ride, LOL. :)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kieran speaks! ...to an Animal Communicator

Someone up at the barn scheduled this animal communicator lady to come talk to some of the horses and I figured, what the hey, right? And got in on it. Some of it I believe was cold reading but some of it...I'm not sure where she got the idea from, you know? Anyway, it was interesting, I've always wanted to see what one would say about Kieran.

So, she talked to several other horses first and then I went and got Kieran out of his stall and brought him down the aisle to her to munch on some hay while we talked. One of the first things she said about him is that he likes to have fun and kind of...not joke around, but it's sort of that personality (I don't remember the precise wording). She said he thinks I need to lighten up and not worry so much and that if we do more fun, ridiculous kind of stuff, he'll agree to work harder. (but that I might have to remind him from time to time of that promise). She said while he wants me to 'lighten up', he also needs me to help keep him grounded because he can be kind of head in the clouds. She said he'd pretty much do anything for me (or at least try to do what I want).

She also mentioned something about how he likes to smash things with his feet. Something about smashing. I have no idea where that one came from because I've not witnessed it. She suggested he might want a pumpkin to smash or something like that, and then eat it.

She said he liked the ball (we've tried to get him to play with a jolly ball a few times, which she did not know) and that he wants a BIG ball.

She said he's very sensitive and while of course he likes praise, I could really hurt his feelings if I reprimand him too harshly.

Uhm, what else?

She said he likes to know how many "lessons" we're going to be doing. Like I should tell him this is the first of eight. I didn't clarify if she meant like, lesson sessions (since other people ride him from time to time) or if she meant like...things I'm going to teach him in a given session but I'd imagine the latter. He also thinks we work for too long (hah) but that he thinks I'm a good teacher.

I asked if he thought he'd like to try jumping and she said no, he didn't think so, he didn't think it was very fun.

I asked where he wanted to be itched and she said she was getting image of him shaking his leg like a dog and like I should try around the inside of his hocks. She also asked who had been scratching the insides of his ears (one of the other girls in the barn, apparently) and she said he said that he wanted her to do it more lightly (she has artificial nails).

Uhm, she brought up that he liked playing in water and liked standing in the deep water.

I asked how he was feeling and she said she felt like she was sick to her stomach and wanted to throw up (and asked if he had been throwing up. I'm not sure if that was a put on or if she doesn't realise horses don't throw up). Anyway, he has been having a bit of an upset tummy (diarrea) so that followed with a conversation about probiotics and if pumpkin would work the way it does for dogs.

Hanna, the barn manager, asked what was up with him every morning (she specifically didn't say what she was really asking) and he said something about she needs to stop changing the routine. Which, she said that they don't. And it was something like...he doesn't want to be brought in last, or near the end.

The issue is: they typically let the horses come in one at a time on their own from the pasture and most every horse knows where their stall is. Apparently Kieran NEVER goes to the right spot. He either goes to the wrong stall, wanders down the other aisle, wanders up to the house, whatever. I think he knows where to go but just chooses not to go there.

She said he was like a boyfriend for me (hopefully not in the "ew" sense) and the love of my life.

Oh, and I asked her to ask him what happened with the people he was with before me. (we got the feeling that they were a bit afraid of him and we've never been able to figure out why) The AC said she was getting an image of like...a racehorse and like maybe they were trying to run him too much or something. That really was inconclusive as, as far as we know, they didn't really ride him. There was also something about it being "like trail riding, but more" which I guess she might have been getting at foxhunting but he's never been. So I don't know.

Oh, she says he likes going trail riding and not so much working in the ring.

But the thing she focused on mainly was that he wants to do more fun things and that I need to lighten up and just have more fun with things.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My pony proves me wrong at every turn

So, we haven't done much real work lately. We've been to the show, and we went in a parade, and we went on a camping trip this past weekend but no real schooling.

Tonight was our first lesson back with Christina (she's off maternity leave, yay!) and there were a couple of things I told her I'd like to work on, pending his cooperation (I was anticipating him having brain farts galore with all the time off): I wanted to begin work on rating his canter (in the post about the show, you'll see what I mean), and something else that came up that I said I wanted to work on was sidepassing (like, to open a gate) because we have a judged trail ride or two we want to go to later this summer and one of the things they have you do is...open a gate.

So anyway, I said when we start cantering, he'd probably canter fast and be a bit unbalanced because...he usually is, so Christina just said we'd see how things worked out.

We warmed up, walk, trot, a little bit of serpentines at the walk (asking him to do a faster walk on one half a serpentine, then free walk on the other half, then back again). She had us do slow trotting on the short sides of the ring and then work to get him to extend down the long sides. She had me do some two point and then try to get him to move out more while still in two point ("squeeze with your calves, but don't take them off and then squeeze" she said and I said, "but it already feels like my calves are squeezing!" so I figure I have to work on that as it's likely a muscle issue on my part). Anyway, he was generally very good for all this though he was tending to try to lower his head and lean on the bit. I just tried not to give him rein when he did it (as I was figuring that he was trying to get me to let the reins out) but Christina said when he tried it, I should think about raising my inside rein to make him less inclined to lean like that.

Then, before I got too tired, we did some cantering. First she just had us canter once around each direction and wouldn't you know it? Each time he gave me a very nice rhythmic, balanced canter that felt amazing. No rushing, no running into it. I was kind of disappointed to have to stop at the end of a lap, LOL. Then she set out a pole that she first had us trot over so he knew it was there, then canter over. The idea was that after he cantered over it, she'd ad another pole a canter stride away and then later, once he's figured that out, we could start changing the distance between the poles to get him to shorten and lengthen his canter strides and make him more adjustable.

So, we did that both directions, then added the second pole and did that both directions and he was really good about picking up his feet over the poles (you should've seen when we introduced him to trot poles) though it was a little awkward going the second direction over them as his canter had gotten a bit fast and it was like, he got his front feet over the first pole, then realized he was too stretched out to make it without stepping on them, so his hind end shortened up and it was this really weird stride over them, but he made it! Anyway, we ended that exercise on a good note and after, Christina wanted me to just canter around in two point but while Kieran was plenty willing to do it, I just did not get the hang of getting up into two point after he began cantering (or asking for it from two point). I've lost what little two-point muscle I had! Oh noes!

Anyway, after that we dialed it down and Christina set up three cones in a line that I wove through forward, then she had me do it in reverse which is difficult because ideally, I want him to just weave through in reverse but really how it happens is I turn his head the direction I want his butt to end up and get him to go that way, pause, reorient, turn him the other way, pause, reorient...until we get through.

And then was a bit of work on sidepassing. Mostly...she had us facing with our back to the wall (he has a tendancy to back up when I ask for this as he doesn't really get it yet). Then she had me take my left rein and sort of bring it out and down toward my knee, keeping even pressure on my right rein and start bumping with my right leg. He didn't really get it, going that way. He'd back up, he'd go forward, he'd bulge his shoulder out to the right and go that way. Wasn't pretty. So we got straightened up and tried going toward the right (bring right hand toward knee, keep left rein steady, bump with left leg) and this he'd step over (crossing over and everything) almost immediately. So once he got that, we tried goingn to the left again and ended up rewarding him for a couple of "tries" that way where he stopped fighting me (and I guess maybe I was asking "better") and then ended the lesson.

So he's got a lot to think about now!

All in all, he was VERY VERY GOOD and I'm so very happy with him.

Going to try and ride tomorrow, not sure what we'll do yet. Sunday, GG is hosting a benefit show so I'll be helping out there and not riding. Might go trail riding with Christina on Monday (and she said we could start doing some of this stuff out on the trails too so that should be fun!) afternoon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

First...a rant

Okay, I'm going to get to talking about my weekend but first....

If you are the owner of a horse rescue, one presumes you understand the concept of, "if you, personally, do not have enough money to get the horse, you probably don't have enough money, personally, to KEEP the horse." It's a decent rule of thumb (though of course, doesn't hold so much when you start talking about, say....upper four figure and up horses). Heck, if you were to have a potential adopter that starts talking about, "well....I'm going to need to get a bunch of people to loan me some money so I can adopt the horse" I would HOPE you'd say, "uh...actually...no, you don't get a horse" or at least consider the possibility that maybe it isn't the right home.

That's not really my rant.

My rant is this: if you're the owner of a rescue and you want a horse for your own PERSONAL use....well, you need to use your own PERSONAL money to procure said horse.

What do you not need to do?

You need to not get your supporters to DONATE YOU THEIR MONEY so that you can get a horse for your own PERSONAL use!

My mind. It is blown.

No, I won't say who it is here. But I don't understand how someone could blithely talk about this and....NO ONE CALLED THIS PERSON OUT.

Does that seem right to you?


And now, here, my weekend:

We went camping! It was cool! (except for the rain, and Christa's near-stomping-by-horse experience and Kieran being a bit of a PITA for the first part of the second ride.)

Here, have pictures!

Kieran would look SO CUTE right there if David wasn't in the way!