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: