Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blogging elsewhere

My lovely Lola is back...

I am not sure why I am feeling such a strong motivation to blog about her after so long of NOT blogging about Bear! Maybe because I'm so far behind with him that I feel its daunting? Maybe I'm its because she's then new kid on the block again? I don't know. It just is.

I am diving into training theory and loving it... just on the other blog. SO... Find me there!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Summer is long gone and the blog has missed it all!

What a summer we had! I feel like we were in warp speed all summer prepping for the first horse trials in July (Intro) then the second one in September (BN). It was lesson after lesson, numerous cross country schoolings, running through the dressage test, fitting up, tuning up, and then finally giving up! Why? A nasty cough! Not me... I would have ridden with pneumonia. BEAR caught a cold! So irritating... Bottom line, I'm SUPER proud of our progress this summer. I think it will still be worth going back and posting the half written blogs and all the video and photos that I failed to upload. We went from zero to feeling super confident at Beginner Novice between March and September. That's something to be proud of! We even tackled a few Novice fences while schooling. I'll be sure to have some rainy days coming to get this done. Until then, I am still busy as ever! Winter might be a nice break... In other news, Lola will be coming home from her lease soon! SUPER excited to see her, and get to ride her again after a full year of maturing in her training and athleticism! She's been going well at BN all summer with her junior rider, and they'll be finishing the season at Novice! Very exciting for her. She's back on the market, and I hope to find her a forever home with another junior rider this winter.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

When life is more exciting than blogging...

Man, oh, man has life been busy!

I have been so looking forward to posting videos, pictures, and all our glorious stories of how we are progressing, and yet I haven't. Why? Because I hardly have time to keep up with all of it! I've just been having too much fun, both at the barn and with non-horsey stuff.

Since our clinic the last weekend of June, we've done several lessons, our first horse trials (only elementary level), a couple cross country schoolings, and basically all the other prep work to be ready to go BN mid September!

While this doesn't sound like much, its been a miracle that I've made it happen considering in the last month and a half I've had my first year anniversary (with trip to San Francisco), been up to Tahoe, down to the Sequoias, and out to Nebraska for a family wedding. Thank goodness I have another rider to share my horse with right now! Made a world of difference.

Many of these exciting milestones deserve their own post. So when I get around to the pictures and videos, I'll be sure to share!

I'm off to our dressage lesson. Wish I didn't have an red-hot-angry-swollen-itchy-ouchy wasp sting on my calf! But the show must go on. At least its not 110 today!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

So much fun, so little time

I have had a marvelous week off of riding after an extremely busy week of riding before that!

A few days camping, fantastic fireworks, followed by a few days up by Tahoe was all the R&R I needed after a grueling and over-booked week of riding.

It went something like this:

Friday: Jump school at home (we pulled out all the fun stuff!)
Saturday: Pick up a friend's horse for quick trail ride
Sunday: Lesson with dressage trainer
Monday: I had evening plans so he did get a day off!
Tuesday: Jump lesson with a new trainer
Wednesday: Hour and a half of hilly trails (walking)
Thursday: New half-leaser had jump lesson on him (I still had to take him there, but got a riding break)
Friday: Hauled to clinic location and just lunged a bit before he got dinner
Saturday: Cross country clinic- roads & tracks pacing practice in the morning, and cross country schooling in the afternoon
Sunday: Roads & Tracks course at 250 (got it spot on!) Followed by my elementary/bn course where I came in about 2 minutes over the time! (I did get lost, slowed up for a temper tantrum about another horse, and then had to re-approach the scary BN sized stadium oxer that was the last fence.)

By the end of it all I was beat! So I got a break, while the new half-leaser got to do what ever she wanted with Mr. Bear this week. I am so glad to have stumbled across this fantastic rider! She'll be riding him about half the time (more when I'm gone, and less if I have a competition), and since I can't afford to compete much, there will be plenty of opportunity for her to take him to a few horse trials before the end of the season too! It is TOUGH to keep an eventing horse in tip-top shape! Even tougher when you work 40+ hours a week and try to spend time with a new husband! So knowing that he is still getting out on days that I can't get out there is such a relief.

We're looking forward to some more fun later this week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why is this so difficult???

Man, oh, man. Why is it so hard to get lessons scheduled???

So I have been trying to set up a jumping lesson for this Saturday for a full month! Do I have one? Nope!

See, my horse show accomplice and I had this all set up. Her horse is at her house (and no trailer) and I'm at the barn with the action (and by action, I mean that I harass the two other women that are trying out eventing with my incessant planning.) So every so often, I pick her horse up for a sleepover at my barn, and we pack in as much as possible. Usually a lesson, a trail ride, and sometimes schedule the horse massage therapist so she can drive one place for both horses.

We started with the H/J trainer next door, but nope, off at a horse show. Now this has months of trying to schedule, or actually scheduling and having them rained, and after all that effort, we've gotten TWO lessons like four months. UGH... Plus I can't afford her private lesson rate, so I have to coordinate not only with the trainer's schedule, but jumping friends to share the lesson with as well.

SO... I decided that maybe the summer should be a little like a series of clinics. There are plenty of trainers a reasonable distance for hauling over there for lessons. Since I lost my awesome "guarantee of an evening lesson unless she's away for an event" Eventing trainer (moved to a fancy place in Kentucky), I have been reluctant to go trainer hunting, and sort resigned myself to the convenience of walking next door. (But not if I can never get a lesson!) So I made a list of jumping trainers to try over the summer, and starting emailing. Figured I'd be sure to find someone that could squeeze the two of us in on that Saturday.

Big barn eventing trainer- off at Invale

Dressage judge/eventing trainer- off schooling cross country that day, but did schedule for Th 6/28

Pony Club barn trainer- yes Saturday will work, but she's out of town, so I wait five days for the time, only to get oh, sorry, no. Turns out she's off at the same H/J show as Fancy H/J trainer next door. Also said most evenings would work. I ask for Tues or Thurs? No response. I ask about TONIGHT (now Tuesday) or Thursday. Response is offer for Wednesday. Really, if that worked for me, I think I'd have mentioned it!

Back to Dressage judge/eventing trainer- SO sorry, can't do Thursday 6/28. Now this is the first legitimate excuse that I've hear from a trainer: it is her birthday, and she forgot! I relate. And understand that she would also have plans! She suggests Sunday the 24th. That would be great, right? Horse Show Accomplice will be there still. Well, except for the fact that I already have a dressage lesson set for Sunday morning!!! At least my dressage trainer (who is absolute gold!) has been consistent in her availability and kept us progressing (even if not over fences).

Ugh. So now I am a week and a half away from the Big Eventing barn's cross country clinic, and I still don't have even one jumping lesson on the calendar. I really was hoping to have a confidence builder or two before having to display my crappy equitation on my green horse in front of the Big Eventing barn and all of its auditors!

I had such great plans for this spring! How is it that I've only gotten one jumping lesson on my horse and one cross country lesson? My, oh my this horse industry has a complicated schedule!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

One step cancelled, but another step ahead!

Well our lesson got cancelled. Or I guess I should say, never scheduled. The trainer had a clinician coming in this weekend and had too much going on for the lesson. I did get to take Bear out with a friend for a cross country lesson at Jack Rabbit Flats with a local eventing trainer. We had a blast! He was so much fun!

Our last school he was getting a little worked up, but it was VERY busy that day, and one of our stable mates was having a complete melt down. This weekend was perfect, we were the only group out there, and we had another friend audit from horseback so it made it nice to always have a horse to stand with. We also had the bonus of a horse husband to take video! I have lots of good footage!

This time around the plan was to trot into things since we’re not really cantering full courses yet, and just see if we could: 1) jump more challenging fences than last time, 2) put more together. We did both!

We started the easy stuff that we've done before:

Then moved on to the unknown:

After two wiggly refusals, we added the sort of narrow and scary ski jump to our resume.

Plus we did the "too-long-for-one-stride-but-too-short-for-two-stride in and out",

and the taller banks on both the bank section and the water.

The bonus was that he was so calm and keeping a good canter rhythm to the fences that we actually cantered most! I let him come to a trot any time we needed to rebalance or make turns, or if I thought we’d get a better approach coming in slower. All in all, we cantered far more than I expected!
At the end we put together a real course. Moral of the story, I’m out of shape! About 9 jumps in, I got tired and sloppy. Bear told me he did not approve of crappy riding when he was also getting tired! Here was our course:
Straight line through a tiny log, less tiny pile of logs, to the 2ft rail. Turn to the 18 in natural cross rail. Turn again to the 14 in hay bales, straight line to the 2ft ski ramp. We then skipped past the scary bench, and crossed over the two ditches, and straight to the 2ft wine barrels. (This was where I really felt sloppy and winded. I rested some weight on his neck cantering away, and he made sure to let me know that was not ok!) So I took a break and trotted to the next area. We went up and over the bank, then over the hedge (2ft-ish? Still growing…), and over to the in and out 2ft2. Unfortunately is so far away you just me running through the grass! From there we came back around to the water where he promptly came to a halt on the down bank in, gave it a good look, and then popped right in! So we circled back to catch it again with less hesitation. All in all it was excellent considering the limited amount of jumping we’ve done!
We still need to work on him not flinging his head in the air when he’s excited, but his canter was nice and balanced, and his rhythm was fantastic! This was a harder course than what we’ll have waiting for us for our Elementary debut, so we are more than prepared.
I love schooling at JRF because they have such a variety of little stuff! I still have another 4 or 5 jumps that are lower than 2ft6in that I can work up to next time. I am looking forward to getting another jumping lesson scheduled now that we really have a groove with cantering fences.

I have postponed the first horse trials to July. No one else from the barn could go to this June one, and if I went all alone to Camelot now, I wouldn’t have the money to go next month to Eventful Acres when I’d have friends going! So even though we are ready, I’ll be holding off for social reasons! Still hope to hit the August HT at Camelot as well. We’ll see. I may need to limit myself to either a second HT or finally getting to Training level at an end of summer dressage show. Can’t imagine I’ll have the time and money for BOTH! Oh I wish I had a money tree…

I am summer fever (too late for spring fever!) so bad right now! All I want to do is ride, think about riding, plan my next school, show, or lesson, or come up with my next goal! Wish I could work half time in the summers! But then I’d have no money for all this crazy expensive horse stuff…

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On track for Horse Trials 6/16...

So far we are on schedule!

We had a great lesson last Saturday, followed by a Sunday schooling show where we did our due diligence trotting our cross rail course. (My hubby was shocked that I got a second place for such a slow pokey boring course, I told him being in control beats careening though the course just for the sake of cantering!) I think he got video, but not sure it will be worth posting, we'll see!

We had an easy lunge session in vienna reins last night as a bit of a body break, and tonight we nailed a 30 minute workout ride! Got in a walk warm up, some good trot work going both directions and switching directions several times, good canter to the right, stretchy trot to the right, walk break, little more trot work to prep for canter to the left, stretchy trot to the left, and hit the end at 35 minutes. Very effective training, good workout, left me time to get out my friends horse for some rehab walking (she's out of town).

I've got a lovely trail ride scheduled for him tomorrow, so that will be his long walk for the week. Then sadly he will probably sit in pasture doing nothing Thursday through Monday while we're gone for the weekend.

I'm very excited to have jumping lesson number two potentially set for Tuesday evening when I get back! Then cross country schooling on Sunday. That means I'll have two weeks left to practice what we learned before our horse trials debut!

Can't wait!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring recap in photos...

It has been such a long time since I updated... where did the spring go?

Last blog was how I DIDN'T go to the dressage show (or the hunter show, or ANY of the jumping lessons that I had planned) due to rain. Well besides raining on my parade regularly, the wet weather had one other unwelcome gift. The day before the rain date for the dressage show I found Bear three-legged lame! What does wet weather do to pasture ponies to ruin two jam packed weeks of horse events? You guessed it! Abscess. Not fun! Well it was fun for Bear. Instead of dressage show, jumping lesson, overnight cross country schooling, and our first horse trial, he mainly got to play with his pasture mates...

and gain some much needed weight!

Since we were only two weeks out from the horse trials we had to scratch. He ended up having a rather miraculous recovery time, but I couldn't have know how long it would be. Another horse at the barn came up lame with an abscess litteraly days before and took two weeks longer to trot out sound. Bear looked good a week before the local Derby, so we had a quick prep before showing our first dressage tests of the year. We did Intro Test C and Beginner Novice Test A, and the day of the show I decided to add in the cross rail class.

The first test went well, despite a lack of warm up time. Unfortunately he just came unglued in our second test! The rest of our barn had showed up after my first test, and it turns out that he is obsessively in love with my friend's red mare! (What is with his red mare fetish???) He was dancing around and hollering to her when I left the trailers, but I got him focused back on me in the warm up ring. When we got back to the show ring he was much more tense and not wanting to trot forward, preferring to do is upright tense trot, but I thought we could still make it through the test. Then we had to make the second trot and canter circle at C instead of A, and from that half the arena he could actually see her shiny red butt tied to the trailers! Ho hum... another "disobedient, but tactfully ridden" comment from the judge! We'll just say the trot circle was more like a head-tossing-dance rectangle with some unexpected sideways action, the canter depart was explosive, but then only resulted in a pogo-stick-like gait and I don't believe we got even one stride of a true three beat canter! What can I say, it was the first show of the year! Other first-show-problem, I'm apparently fatter than I was last October! I barely got my coat buttoned at all, and the top button wasn't even close! So I got to look like some sort of 70's Vegas singer!

The other wardrobe malfunction (and probably what I'm laughing at in this adorable photo) was that I forgot to zip my boots up all the way! Duh...

Luckily we were able to have a re-do the very next weekend at the make up show for the show that I missed due to the abscess (which really had been the make up for the one that was rained out!) We did the same two tests, and improved on both. More importantly, I was able to conquer my tendency to sit quiet and make the best of the tense trot problem. It wasn't perfect, but I still pushed him forward and had some great moments. We also came back after his warm up for the second test to have some of the best canter transitions ever! I felt it was a huge personal victory to be having problems and actually figure out a way to work past them and make immediate improvements without a trainer there to coach me through. No photos or video though; I braved this show alone.
I wish I had more time mid-week, but work is crazy right now. We are managing to make the most of our weekends. I am hopeful that we'll finally step out of Intro into Training level dressage tests this summer. His stretchy trot isn't solid yet, but coming along nicely!

We also had our first official jumping lesson at the fancy H/J barn next door. It went surprisingly well considering his jumping work went out the window with the focus on the dressage show (that kept being pushed back) and then the time off.

We are now on a one month countdown to the next Horse Trials! We'll only be doing Elementary, so I'm feeling pretty good. With two goes at the BN Test behind us, I think we're fairly well prepped and can polish that off some in the next few weeks. For the jumping, I really could jump every single fence from a very collected trot and probably will to be sure we set the precedent for what is acceptable! So worst case scenario we're looking at is time faults, but some well instilled training moments. I hope to get out to school cross country again to be sure we can at least feel good about cantering BETWEEN the jumps! But who knows, if I can manage to sort out a better work-life balance, we could be a whole lot farther along after a month.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Postponing the excitment


two carefully planned rides to prep for the show (Friday trail ride to take the edge of, and Saturday lesson to put the finishing touches on the tests),

cleaning tack,

packing, packing and more packing,

two weeks of memorizing, visualizing, walking, and riding my two tests,

subjecting my husband to non-stop dressage chatter to deal with my horse-show-eve nerves,

truding into the "layered cake pants"- nylons, white breeches, outer pants to get dirty between 4am and the 8am ride time,

leaving the house at 4:15am (yes AM!),

getting down the freeway 30 minutes I THEN get the call...


At least I hadn't woken the poor beast yet.

Oh, well, off to enjoy a slightly rainy trail ride instead. I can start the whole deal all over again soon, the rain date will be April 15th. Hmm... wonder if I my hubby will mind if I just leave the truck "horse-show-packed" for the next three weeks? I guess the food will go bad... ;p

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Rain, rain, go away, come again.... next winter?

For months, I've been jam packing my horse goals into March and April, because I have some extra income to pay for it currently. What does the weather decide to do? Make up all of the rain if forgot to give us all fall and winter and throw it down in torrential sheets, hail, and snow all in the few weeks in needed to do the final prep! UHG!

The dressage trainer has a covered arena, so I've been trailering out there each weekend to get a lesson (and a dry place to ride). In the mean time, I'm making lemonade of the flooded corner of the arena, and we are pretending it is a water feature.

So one last lesson today, a whole lot of prep and packing, and at some point late afternoon I'll know if the show for tomorrow is on or cancelled. We'll be trying out Intro Test C and BN Test A. Hoping for a sanity, really that is all. No prancing giraffe, that's all I ask.

Then next weekend we're trying out a cross-rail class at a local H/J schooling show. Problem is last week was meant to be our first real jumping lesson, and both attempts were rained out. We're now set for Tuesday night, but that's not looking good either! For that matter, next weekend will probably pour, so I might not have a show to prep for!

The real goal with all of this is a two day horse trial at the end of April. I was hoping to have the test already run through one and start taming our horse show course nerves at least a month out.

Ho hum. I had it so well planned.

I guess its a wait and see!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Looking sporty!

Maybe he really goes quieter in these ear bonnets, maybe I just think he looks cute in them, either way, he's now got one in black and one in brown, and I LOVE them!

He is sensitive about things tickling his ears when we ride. Even though we don't have much of a bug problem this early in the season, I do think it helped keep the wind out of his ears for yesterday's lesson. We had some crazy gusts! So the addition of the cute head gear, the jumping saddle instead of the dressage saddle, and the breast collar that I usually only use for cross country, all made for quite the sporty looking pony! Everyone commented!

Bear just turned 6 a few weeks ago, and since he's an adult, its time for him to get a job! We are officially starting over fences. YEAH! That was why I was looking so sporty for my dressage lesson. We worked on many of the usual things for the first part of the lesson, and then we took him through a gymnastic at the end. He was a little clumsy trying to sort out where his feet go, but he got the idea quickly. More importantly, he felt so relaxed and solid through it that it almost felt like he was already trained. Love it! It was still a cross rail of no more than a foot at the low point, but it was the biggest thing we've jumped so far, and he felt so good!

So we've gone about all of the possible options to prepare for jumping over the last few months. We've trotted tiny cross-rail courses, we've done trot poles, we've cantered over a pole on the ground, we've trotted logs on cross country and the trail, now we have finally jumped a beginner gymnastic (guide pole, cross rail, guide pole) AND added a second canter stride pole after with another little jump a few strides out. He's super relaxed about all of it! Next will be cantering in to the gymnastic and cantering a course of poles. I also think I'd like to free jump him again. I haven't done it for well over a year, and didn't jump him over more than 2ft then since he wasn't in great shape. I'd like to see his form over larger fences now, both to see what his style is like and to convince myself he's got the jump in him to later move up.

In the mean time, we are working on cantering conditioning at two point with the idea of working up to 5 minutes. I really need the work (right now ONE minute kills me!), but it has also been a big change for him to have me up out of the saddle. So we are doing lots of extend-collect transitions in two point to get him to understand what I'm asking now that I'm not able to sit down and use my seat.

I'm off to take him out on the trail now. Hoping he'll be quiet and sensible so that we can work on this canter excercise out in the open.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

On a roll!

We've been slowly but steadily working back towards our fitness from last fall. Back in November Bear came up with a slight hind-end lameness (think he must have slipped in the pasture and over stretched something) so he was pared back to gentle work. Add to that Christmas craziness and a two weeks in France and you can imagine he wasn't getting out much. Now in mid-February I feel like we've finally caught up and can start progressing again.

Our dressage lessons are going well, and I'm getting the better quality trot work from him more often. He canter is his strong point, and after our lesson yesterday I feel he's gaining stamina there too. The most improved is his walk. With the slow work we focused on only walking. This change of pace helped him mentally not to be overly eager to trot again. Plus we've been walking poles and small caveletti to build the strength in his hind end that seemed to be troubling him.

I've got video from the second part of yesterday's lesson. We're still working on submission, that darn camel impression keeps popping up! Ugly, counter-productive, AND he's managing to hit me with his green drool! He was getting tired, and started stumbling in the back. I hope that will go away with more strength.

Both leads are coming along nicely, but cleaning up the departs is a big item on the to-do list before our goal of cantering the Intro Test C at the end of March.

I'm looking at starting him over fences in the next few weeks, so we made our cross country debut without really jumping! A friend and I hauled out last weekend to a local place called Jack Rabbit Flats, and had a blast! We started, as we always did when I was taking Lola out there, with some trotting around the one-mile perimeter track. We did this each way with walk breaks and then picked up the canter starting left lead. Bear is favoring his right lead lately, and on a straight away like that he chose right. I let him continue anyway, but picked up the left before we got to the turn. Then to make it even, after we had changed directions I made him pick up the left for the straight-away and trotted the change to right lead before the turn. My friend and I were both focused on a good quality collected canter as this was Bear's first time cantering in the open with a friend. I was really impressed! He put all his excited energy into the canter without getting strong. I got such a fantastic rocking-horse canter I was blown away. SO fun.

Then we got to schooling. Bear learned about water, banks, and at least one ditch (a scary one too!). I got a quick video of the water and banks, but we were too busy playing follow the leader with the ditch to get video of each other.

He thew a fit going into the water the second time, but not because of the water. He was bulging his shoulder, and I tapped it with the crop to remind him to listen to my knee to straighten that side. That was clearly quite offensive to him! ;)

I was very please with him, despite his overly eager head tossing! Ugh. He was pretty calm and cool about the whole thing. I hope to have him jumping little stuff by the time we go back next month.