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.