Thursday, February 4, 2010

January Week 5

Monday 1/25
Longed 20 minutes. Was going to ride, but the lights went out in the barn. The barn owner got it all figured out but not until after we put the horses away.

Tuesday 1/26
Pretty good ride, maybe 45 minutes.

Wednesday 1/27
Lesson with Leslie. Went pretty well. Pandora really wants to lean down and on my inside rein...very difficult to get her to carry herself but I think more lessons will really help.

Thursday 1/28

Friday 1/29
Longed. Didn't have time for much else, we had a HM study session for Pony Club. It was a good session, though - did it outside which seemed to help with forward. Her canters were actually nice and light in both directions. It was a good workout and she broke a light sweat.

Saturday 1/30
Pretty good ride - 45 minutes or so. I am not sure if I'm applying what Leslie showed me correctly, but I was focusing really hard on riding straight with my body. It was hard for both of us, but when I asked for a canter transition, it was wonderful. I think this means we're on the right track.
Rode McKinna too. Canters way improving.

Sunday 1/31
Longed for maybe 15 minutes after we finished with stalls and feeding. It was getting dark. Not the best session but I chalked it up to poor visibility and let it go.

Monday, January 25, 2010

January Week 4

Monday 1/18
Good ride - maybe an hour? Warmed up with a hack down the road. We went down past the driveway then all the way back up, where there are some extremely nice gradual hills. Pandora felt good. Then we rode in the arena, just walk/trot, focusing on getting her to carry herself and soften her jaw. Looking forward to dressage lessons.

Tuesday 1/19
Chiro visit! It went extremely well. He tried a new way of getting at a persistent problem - Pandora's right shoulder - and it made a huge difference. He suggested it could help with the way she wants to hold herself twisted a little bit, swinging her haunches out to the right which we all know is a huge problem.
We tried another new thing too. After I told him how I taught her to back up very well by allowing her to walk straight forward after backing, he said we should try it after adjustments. So every time she successfully completed an adjustment, she got to walk forward a little bit. You could tell it made a big difference! She got extremely cooperative and started walking forward on her own after a good adjustment. If it wasn't successful, she'd just stand there with a very unimpressed look on her face. Silly horse.

Wednesday 1/20
I had a pretty good ride. I wanted to give her plenty of time and space to get used to her just-adjusted body, since she's always a little weird the day after a chiro visit. I longed her with tack first to let her figure things out on her own. She looked pretty good, though still a bit sticky about the canter. I think I will longe her more often to help her develop balance at the canter without the added burden of a rider.
Then I rode for about 45 minutes, just at the walk and trot. Tried some new things, asking her to supple her jaw (like we've been working on in dressage lessons with McKinna) but not lean on me or get fussy. Also working on lightening her to the aids - I shouldn't have to nag to keep her going forward. Looking forward to taking some dressage lessons on her.
The resident trainer was working with a young horse who did some bucking and racing around right after being saddled. She warned us, so I stopped Pandora to let her watch. I don't think she even flicked an ear...definitely not the kind of horse who's fired up by others acting silly!

Thursday 1/21
Longed and rode again, a bit too dark for a hack. 15 longeing, 30 or so riding. Still lots of work to make her canter on the longe but I think if I do it a couple times a week we can make progress and it will translate to improvements under saddle.
Ride was pretty good. Worked on the same stuff, suppling at walk and trot. When I get her going right in terms of softening her jaw and carrying her neck, bend becomes less of an issue (in terms of her wanting to swing her haunches out). This may be the suppling or it may be the chiro adjustment.
Working on having her be light to the aids. Seems to be going well. I will spend more time on this, especially leg-yields at the trot (which I know will get better with strength).
Did a couple canters. It was pretty good, much straighter than it has been, so I think the adjustment did help. She's also much more responsive to trot leg-yields after we've cantered, and I've noticed this in the past.
Have I mentioned that I'm looking forward to dressage lessons??
Pulled a tick off her left hind, near the stifle area. Gross.

Friday 1/22
Our first jumping lesson in what feels like forever, and it went pretty well. Loading in the trailer a bit ugly but we got things worked out - unloading at Poseidon, then the whole trip home was pretty uneventful.
Lesson itself was great. Pandora calm and forward. She's learned the habit I teach her on the ground about spooky things! We walk up to it as she snorts and blows, I kick or pat it so she can hear the sound, and then I say "Say hi!" and she goes up and puts her nose on it to sniff it. Then things are fine. I tried this from the saddle with a Big Scary White Table that was on its side, and she went right up and touched it when I told her to. Very cool.
The jumping was great. Trot fences were very good and I'm going to do lots more of those at home since it doesn't take much room. Cantering a course was a bit haphazard at times, but she did a very good job considering we haven't jumped in THREE MONTHS. My position was a bit terrible - I kept popping up onto my toes and falling forward over the fences, ugh. Time to do some no-stirrups gridwork or something. But, when I did ride correctly, it was great. I got one beautiful half-halt down the middle of a five-stride line. Only happened once, but I can't wait until all my half-halts go through like that.

Saturday 1/23
Long hack. The ride down the road was very nice, except the part where we passed the Llama And Goat Of Doom and we pranced sideways for 100 yards or so. Still, I have to give her credit for going on even in the face of Imminent Death. We'll have to practice that lots as the weather gets nicer.
Then we headed through the front pasture to the cow pasture, which I thought would be drier but wasn't. Pandora REALLY does not like the sloppy grass, it makes her anxious, but she went anyway. Which is good because she's an eventer.
I tried my "say hi!" trick on one of the young cows and she would have done it if he hadn't gotten scared and run away. Cute little bugger.

Sunday 1/24
Rest, with turnout as usual. There's a minor cough going around the barn, ugh, but ours and one other are pretty separate from the rest (they're up in a separate barn) so fingers crossed they stay symptom-free.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January Week 3

Monday 1/11
Longed 30 minutes, w/t/c. Still spooky at the far rail but not as bad, worked through it.
Would like to build a set of 4 - 5 cavaletti so we can do more work with those; less risk for stepping on/rolling them and you can set them high for canter cavaletti. They are included in our training schedule, anyway.
Called farrier and chiro today, hopefully appointments sometime next week.
Me: 2x15 pushups.

Tuesday 1/12
Good ride, maybe 30 minutes, just walk-trot. Liking the new saddle but Pandora is feeling kind of bleh at the trot. I led her up and down the Scary Aisle before I rode and she was WAY better about that side...just decided to be terrified of the bulldozer and truck sitting just outside the portion of the arena where the upper wall is just open air. She was good about working through it though. I figured it was just another schooling session to learn that the Judge Stand Monster isn't going to eat her.
Tomorrow is dressage lesson on McKinna, then I get to ride Thursday but I'm heading for the ABC retreat on Friday. It seems like we keep taking two steps forward and one step back these days, but I know we'll get there.
Me: 2x15 pushups.

Wednesday 1/13
Lesson on McKinna went well.
I think these frequent lessons are good for both of them in terms of attachment issues. They tend to be a bit herdbound to each other, but neither of them fussed much tonight.

Thursday 1/14
Farrier appointment. Didn't need much taken off and everything looks good.

Friday 11/15 through Sunday 11/17
I was away at the ABC retreat; didn't ride.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January Week 2

Monday 1/4
Went out at 9AM. Gave 2g bute mixed with applesauce. Pandora not terribly pleased but once I caught her she was fine. Free-longed her around the arena at a trot and she looked great. Wonder if the joint supplement is working already? Brought her into the center and spent some time just rubbing her head and neck. Didn't try to touch the poll but the area behind her ears seems less tender than yesterday - as long as I don't push, she doesn't mind being touched.
Turned the girls out.
Went back out at 4pm to bring in. She was pretty much normal for haltering. She's looking really good lately. Her hooves are holding up to barefoot extremely well and her gaits are getting smoother. Just have to wait for her darn head to heal up.

Tuesday 1/5
Free-longed for 15 minutes with a ground pole on the rail on one side. She was very good. Had to work a bit to make her keep cantering in laps and over the ground pole - it's hard with one person - but she was good about it and was adjusting herself nicely to the pole. Would like to set up a chute and try some free-jumping at some point too, but the arena's a bit hard.
Practiced asking for inside turns, which I think are much smoother and more focused than abrupt outside turns. Did them from the right fine but not from the left. From the left I ended up stopping her, walking up, physically turning her head with my hand, and then asking her to go. After 5 or 6 times, she suddenly understood and voila, inside turns.
Administered ~2g bute in applesauced syringe, probably for the last time. I am able to touch almost everywhere including her poll now. Even pulled a bit of the forelock hairs away but they were a little stuck to the dried blood (!) and she wasn't too thrilled about that.
Normal for haltering again.
Me: ran 1 mile.

Wednesday 1/6
Supposed to ride in a lesson with Leslie Chapman but since I haven't been riding her due to her injury, I took McKinna. Had a great ride on McKinna though!

Thursday 1/7
Free-longed. Inside turns now confirmed.
Me: 2x10 pushups.

Friday 1/8
Didn't go out.

Saturday 1/9
Did a short ride - just attached reins to the halter because I am sick and didn't want to deal with trying to bridle her. Wanted to test out my mom's new dressage saddle, a Kieffer. Fits Pandora nicely and seems to put my legs in a good spot.
Rode McKinna in my new Thornhill dressage saddle and liked it better, more comfortable. Going to try Pandora in the Thornhill and McKinna in the Kieffer next time we ride.
Me: 2x10 pushups.

Sunday 1/10
Bridled and rode in my Thornhill. She was 100% fine for bridling. I like the Thornhill better than the Kieffer - it is softer and I think it has a narrower twist. Not sure if it's too narrow for Pandora or not.

Monday, January 4, 2010

January Week 1

Tuesday 12/29
5 minute hack outside - cold, dark, rainy. Good uphill but a little sticky downhill. Small spook-scoot when the neighbors fired up the four-wheeler, but fairly controlled and straightforward.
60 minute flatwork session. Lots of trot. Needed a reminder about moving away from leg pressure - leg yields were getting pretty dull. Tried to allow stretching down on big looping figure-8s to get the correct bend; will continue to play with that as it seemed constructive.
Some decent canters. From sitting trot, she actually picks up the correct lead on a straight line very well, and if I insist, she's prompt in her transitions (read: need to insist). Our very very shallow canter 'serpentines' are getting a bit smoother.

Wednesday 12/30
Not the best ride but I suspect it was the saddle - rode in the old jumping saddle. Pandora was unfocused, a bit lazy, and generally not herself. 30 minutes. Not terrible, just not the same horse I have every day.

Thursday 12/31
Really good ride (back in the usual saddle). Long walk warmups are working nicely, especially when working on stretching down while bending. Starts off pretty short-strided but tends to warm up nicely - arena footing may play into this as it's been a bit hard lately, barn owner's tractor out of commission at the moment. Canter still improving, working on spending more time in the canter each ride. Shallow serpentines coming along. Left-lead canter vastly better than right-lead, not entirely sure why - seems to be a function of balance. To the left much smoother, not leaning on hands, don't need to bring her up with the outside rein as much. 50 minutes.

Friday 1/1/10
Rest day.

Saturday 1/2
Free-longed 30 minutes, set a ground pole out on the rail on each side to keep her focused. Pandora worked really nicely. Very relaxed, stretching, smooth gaits, aware and careful of the poles. A very nice focused session. Canter actually looking pretty good. McKinna was in the arena too and the canter work was a bit difficult to coordinate with both of them, so in future will only do free canter work individually.
Washed tail as well as udder area and finished pulling mane.
Started on new joint supplement - liquid Hyaluronic Acid, FlexForce brand. Smells like cherries, not entirely unpleasant. Administered in syringe as this is supposed to have better absorption, but don't know if I want to deal with that every day so may just end up top-dressing feed.

Sunday 1/3
Supposed to be a clinic day, but not so much. Did not unload properly, my fault - opened door before untying. Pandora tried to back out, hit the tie, freaked out, broke halter. Did not flip on the way out and did not bang her legs up but cut her poll. Shallow cut, but she was too sore to let me bridle her so I didn't ride.
Trailered her in the divider on the way home and was a lot more careful. She loaded up nervously but well, and unloading went off well too. Haltering is sketchy but doable, she's pretty head-shy. Administered 2.5g powdered bute, mixed with applesauce in syringe. She seemed bright-eyed and cheerful, ate and drank well, just didn't want me to touch her head.
I designed an extender we'll fabricate for the dividers so she will actually fit.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October Week 2 Review

Monday 10/5
I took today off because I came down with a cold :(

Excellent ride tonight! Almost an hour. Lots of very good lateral work and canter work. She was carrying herself very well. I've been trying to do more canter work, as I think it's something we've neglected. I think if we focus on balanced canter work where she is CARRYING herself, which has always been the issue, we'll definitely see results in our jumping work.

Wednesday 10/7
Well, I would have ridden tonight but Mom had a lesson over at Robin's so I didn't.

Thursday 10/8
A good, short ride tonight. Rode in the outdoor. I did lots of no-stirrups work at the trot and canter - my sitting trot is getting better but still needs some work. She was very nice and balanced tonight, I even got some improvement on the canter-walks with not as many shuffling steps in between.
The cute horse in the turnout next to the outdoor arena got all excited when I was cantering and it started galloping and bucking. Pandora hardly twitched an ear and I was very pleased!

Friday 10/9
I had an excellent ride - about 50 minutes with a lot of canter work. Like I said, I've come to realize that we need to spend more time in the canter when we school flatwork and I can tell it's hard for her to really maintain her balanced self on a straightaway.
Still I got some very nice work.
Realized that part of our ongoing left bend issue, which is improving with all the lateral work progress we've made, is that I give up my outside rein too easily while going to the left. I think it started as an effort to get her to bend her head and neck to the inside, but I've realized that I'm relying way too much on the inside rein. When I insisted on a firm outside rein, she really straightened through the body but protested by trying to bend to the outside. Still, I made some progress, and I think if I apply this in my schooling it will help us chip away further at that darn left bend.

Saturday 10/10
I gave her the day off today - hard ride yesterday, hard ride tomorrow, bath time tonight! Well, modified bath. I scrubbed her socks to sparkling and washed and banged her tail, but just hot-toweled the rest of her. Kind of an experiment to see if hot-toweling will work to help clean her up for the rating. It's not extremely effective, but it got a lot of the dust out, and I sprayed her down with coat conditioner then covered her with her blanket and a sleazy. Hopefully when I take everything off in the morning she will be clean and shiny!

Sunday 10/11
Very hard clinic. I was sick this week and the clinic was a lot of really hard, intense riding - sometimes, especially on XC, I felt like Pandora needed me to give her a solid ride because she was tired, but I was so exhausted I couldn't ride right. She was so tired she was jumping in very poor form, hanging her knees pretty badly, which she NEVER does. But, I got some useful things out of it - I need to make her carry her head more and insist on a balanced canter, and there's no need to fight about coming back after a fence - just give her time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October Week 1 Review

Monday 9/28
I have got to stop putting off writing down what I did. I keep forgetting. I know I rode, but...that's about all I know.

Tuesday 9/29
First day of classes! I had a good ride.

Wednesday 9/30
A very good ride. This is the first time I've noticed her allowing a leg-yield to go through her back instead of resisting in her back and hips, at the walk at least. She's actually crossing under with her hind leg - more when yielding off the right leg, but still she does it off the left.
Worked on getting that release at the trot, too. It's not there all the way, but I can feel definite improvement.

Thursday 10/1
My weekly day off!

Friday 10/2
Uh, so, I took today off too. We went out to the barn anyway, visited with the girls, put their blankets on because it's started getting awfully chilly at night, and got to watch them check out their new paddocks.

Saturday 10/3
I had a short ride. Pretty good - a weird little fit at the beginning, I think she was just confused, but everything went smoothly after. Tried the TOF on a circle and it was MUCH improved, then I got a very nice reinback.

Sunday 10/4
Had a very good longeing session. Lots of hard work - trot-halt and halt-trot work. Not perfect, but better, and she got a very good workout.

Monday, September 28, 2009

September Review

September Goals: Capable of 60-minute dressage session of mostly trotting and cantering or a 45-minute jumping session.
Completely relaxed about gridwork, including multiple-stride lines, outside. Successful ride at the Brian Sabo clinic, with a well-behaved horse and lots of new tools. Jumping up to 3' at least once, spending most time around 2'6 - 2'9.
Light, balanced leg-yields at walk and trot, further-developed lateral work (TOF, rudimentary TOH, shoulders-in, etc).

Evaluation: Mostly successful. We are indeed capable of a 60-minute dressage ride or 45-minute jumping session. We had a very successful ride at the Brian Sabo clinic, and all lateral work goals have been successfully completed.
I have not jumped up to 3'. I hope to do this at least once before the rating, but it's not a big deal if I don't - 2'9, the height I will jump at the rating, is just not a big deal for either of us at this point.
I also haven't really done a bunch of gridwork. It's terrible, I know. She was totally comfortable with the trot-poles to X one stride to vertical that I had set up in the outdoor, so that's good. My next step is the bane of our existence - a two-stride line. Sometime soon, I believe this coming weekend, we're going to set up some fences out in their pasture. Probably just a two-stride line, but it will start out with only one fence up.
If she can calmly canter a two-stride line outside, I'll know we're completely ready for the rating.


October Goals: Jump 3' at least once before the rating. Capable of cantering a 2-stride line, outside, perfectly calmly, before the rating. Road hacks at least 3x per week after a regular ride.
Successful C-1 rating.
More strengthening lateral work, especially more at the trot. Two-point and sitting work for me, until I can do no-stirrups w/t/c work for 10-15 minutes at a time.

September Week 4 Review

Monday 9/21
I really had to DRAG myself out to the barn today. Very tired from the rally. But, I did it, and I had a great ride. Pandora was on her best behavior and we rode in the outdoor - it was the absolute PERFECT temperature for riding, and there was a beautiful sunset too.
Again, very responsive to lateral work. We still are just not getting that left bend at the trot - she tilts her face to the outside and leans in over her inside shoulder while swinging her haunches out. I have also noticed that in halt and reinback, she tends to blow through my right leg/rein. So it's all symptoms of the same problem, and I just need to figure out what the problem is. Strength in her hind end, I'm guessing - the right leg since it's the one she ignores, or the left leg since that's the one she swings out to unload? Don't know.
Either way, the more lateral strengthening work we do, the better it will get, I'm sure.
On the plus side, she can hold the correct bend at the walk. So we do a lot of walk-trot transitions on the 20-m circle, trying to hold her in the bend as I transition up. I can actually feel her lean into my inside leg as she makes the upward transition.
She gets excited about the canter transitions too. But, I got some good ones. I am trying everything I can think of to keep her engaged and working hard off her hind end, like a 20-m circle with transitions from trot-canter-trot-canter-trot-walk-canter-trot-canter-walk...etc. It gets her a little riled up, but she carries herself better.
Anyway, lots to work on. There's a nearby dressage trainer I want to try taking lessons with. If all goes well, I'm hoping to take a lesson every other week for several months throughout fall and winter, if I can swing it. We are just at the point where I don't know what to do next, as I've mentioned several times before.
Then, I was thinking about maybe trailering to Inavale for stadium and XC lessons with Brooke as we move from winter to spring, because I could certainly use some of those, and I click really well with Brooke. Brooke is $40/hour for a private lesson, the dressage lady is $35 for a private lesson (don't know how long it is). I think I can do it, it's only an extra $70-80 per month.

Tuesday 9/22
Flatwork. I don't remember how it went - ack! I need to keep up with this more.
After the flatwork, I hacked all down the road. Pandora was very calm and relaxed, even when we got to a little 'bridge' section where it's light grey concrete instead of black asphalt, complete with reflective poles on each side. She gave it the hairy eyeball but went right over - her reward was pieces of the pear I grabbed from a tree next to the road.

Wednesday 9/23
Didn't ride - family visiting.

Thursday 9/24
Had a pretty nice ride. I did some flatwork for awhile but I just wasn't feeling it, so I headed out to the field to do some trotting. We did quite a bit, plus a little cantering. I even tried some canter-walk transitions downhill like Brian suggested, and that went pretty well. Worked up a nice sweat, then hacked up the road and back.

Friday 9/25
Day off, family.

Saturday 9/26
Day off, more family.

Sunday 9/27
Finally, a ride! Just shy of an hour. We started off with flatwork. It's coming along really nicely and she's trying really hard for me. I think I will take my first dressage lesson in the first week of November - too much stuff going on in October.
Rode a lot of trot/canter in two-point. It went very well. She really opens up her stride and trucks along when I chill out in two-point for awhile - may be something to consider for dressage warm up. Then I did some sitting and posting trot with no stirrups, which actually went very well.
Then some walk-canter-walks. They went extremely well. Like I've said before, they're nowhere near dressage-quality (I think they're introduced in 2nd level), but they're responsive and she's doing her best to do what I ask. A couple times, we even cantered, walked, changed bend, then picked up the other lead. She got a little grouchy at that one, and I try not to school the walk-canters too often. I think it's asking a lot of her.
So then we headed out to the field. I asked for a walk-canter and she shook her head and wanted to take off, so I had to do some circling and school the walk-canter a couple times till she settled. Then I did some nice expansion-compression of the canter down the long side of the field. Then I picked up the left lead and had to really fight her tendency to dive on the left shoulder when she gallops - really had to tug on the left rein and boot her off my left leg. I never did get that resolved to my satisfaction, but I got her to move off the leg and do a nice circle.
THEN she wanted to gallop, so I figured, what the heck. I couldn't let her get up to top-top speed because there's a section of the field with footing that it's best to not gallop through. But we still went very fast - I think the fastest we've gone since I let her open up a little at Lily Glen. She's certainly got some power.
Finally, we finished up with a 10-minute hack down the road to cool out. Overall a good workout of a ride.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September Week 3 Review

Monday 9/14
Day off after a weekend of clinicing and trailer-riding.

Tuesday 9/15
Just a light longeing session to get the gears going again. She was pretty sticky and lazy.

Wednesday 9/16
Good ride. I, um, don't really remember what happened, but I know it was a solid ride.

Thursday 9/17
Another good ride. Nothing's perfect, but over the last month I've really refined Pandora's responses to lateral cues. I know I NEED lessons to progress to the next level, but I've been working hard and it shows: I can move her haunches to the inside or outside of our straight track now. She doesn't maintain inside bend, because that would be haunches-in and that's hard, but she at least understands that inside leg holding at girth + outside leg squeezing behind means to move the butt over. If I relax the inside hind leg and don't exaggerate the outside leg so much, she leg yields.
She'll also do TOH and TOF in motion. I don't know if they are "dressage-correct" but they are responsive. When I start working with a trainer, we can fix the correctness.

Friday 9/18 - Sunday 9/19
I was off at the Event Rally but I was Stable Manager. Pandora got a couple days off, then my mom longed her on Sunday and apparently she was very good.