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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

September Week 2 Review

Monday 9/7
A good ride today. Short one, just 20 minutes, but I managed to do flatwork, go for a quick gallop, and hop through the grid. She was good and responsive for all three.

Tuesday 9/8
Squeezed in a half hour ride before the farrier appointment today. She was good. The flatwork is good and responsive - need to work on better trot-canter transitions, she tends to hollow and rush and I tend to throw away leg and rein. Need some lessons, but for working on our own we are doing okay.
Had a moment of frustration in the day's ride, but we were able to move past it.

Wednesday 9/9
A pretty good ride. She is a little footsore from the farrier visit yesterday which does NOT please me, she's never been sore before, so I'm wondering if it's just because it had been so dry, then it got really wet, then it all dried out again. Anyway. She was fine walking on smooth ground or pavement, but VERY sore walking across gravel, and she seemed short-strided at the trot to me even in the arena. So we did lots of walking. Walked all around the big field, up and down the hill in it. Then we walked around the pasture that they were in, took a fun trip down through the dry stream bed to this neat little area on the other side. Normally at ditches she stops, blows, inches forward, then leaps over - this one she slowed down to eyeball it then marched right through. Good girl.
She better be less sore tomorrow, or I'm going to start worrying about the clinic. At least we don't ride till Saturday, so that's four more days.

Thursday 9/10
Much better today on the footsoreness. I had a nice ride on the flat - I really feel like we are making some progress on lateral work. Then Mom and I went for a walk out in the field. Pandora was very calm and mellow.

Friday 9/11
Hauled a couple hours to the clinic in Redmond. She was very good for hauling with my friend's young gelding and she settled in nicely, chomping through hay and drinking well. We stabled them pretty far apart so they don't act like idiots this weekend if they have to be separated. The stalls have nice little paddocks off of them, so she can go in and out.

Saturday 9/12
Clinic day one, Stadium Jumping. He gave me tools to help fix the rushing - lengthen, compress, lengthen, compress. My half halts have started going through and she can do a pretty darn nice walk-canter transition. I need to stop allowing her to drop her head after the last fence, and keep my shoulders up and back.
Pandora is still eating and drinking very well. It was a hot hot hot 2.5 hour lesson, and she drank a LOT after we were done.

Sunday 9/13
Clinic day two, XC. She came right into warmup today with an adjustable attitude, whereas on Saturday she wanted to completely tune me out. Had a very good ride - more work on ME in terms of keeping a strong upper body at and over the fence and keeping my left heel down, while just letting her do her thing. We jumped our first down bank into water, no big deal at all.
Not as hot today, still a pretty long ride, she drank lots again.
Long ride home but she was very patient for it and seemed glad to be back in her stall with yet more hay.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

September Week 1 Review

Tuesday 9/1
Had a good, solid flatwork ride. We are plugging away at the lateral work, it is not exceptionally fun and we are not having any big lightbulb moments, but I think we're making progress. A nice canter in each direction.

Wednesday 9/2
Another good ride, this time in the outdoor. Schooling flatwork was fine, but I need to remember to ride with the whip - she was tuning me out big time on some lateral work and forward. Hopped through the beginnings of our grid therapy (trot poles to an X to a landing pole) and she was fine, very calm and relaxed, so called that good. After that, I headed out to the field for a little trot/canter/gallop. Had to remind her not to dive on the inside shoulder with a light pulley rein, but the gears were pretty intact (if a bit rusty). Will practice more, especially with effective half-halts off my body instead of my hands.

Thursday 9/3
Grandparents in town, didn't ride.

Friday 9/4
Fall vet visit today! Pandora had her teeth checked but was in great shape, so she'll get a recheck in the spring. McKinna got hers done. Poor thing, they always look so pathetic when they're sedated.
Both got a 5-way (EEE, WEE, Flu, Rhino, Tetanus) and I bought a tube of Banamine to have on hand.
Didn't ride.

Saturday 9/5
Ugh, three non-riding days in a ROW. That's a new low for me, lately! And probably a bad choice, as Big Clinic is next week. Still, her fitness won't suffer I'm sure. They are out in the pasture anyway, and I'm going to give her a medium-solid workout tomorrow, a light one on Monday, then a real workout on Tuesday. Probably a light ride on Wednesday, then another pretty solid one on Thursday, and Friday she will probably get a light hack after we trailer a few hours to the clinic location.
In all, I feel like she's fit and ready for this clinic. When we did a little fast work outside on Wednesday, she wasn't even winded - I've done my homework and put the time in.

Sunday 9/6
Pretty good ride. Nothing special, nothing bad - just a good solid flatwork session.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

August Week 4 and Month Review

So, um, I didn't really keep up with the last week of August. I rode several times, I had some really good rides, and I had two really bad rides (1 dressage, 1 jumping).

Plan of attack is to be more patient with dressage, using lots of strengthening and suppling exercises to concentrate on building her fitness so she isn't as tempted to evade. For jumping, lots of remedial, calm, slow gridwork, plus reinstallation of half-halts when riding outside.

Here's the month review.

August Goals: Bring Pandora slowly but steadily back into regular work. Include at least once-weekly walk hacks around the conditioning loop. Slowly reintroduce jumping before a lesson on the 17th, where I will tell the instructor that I want to take it pretty easy. By the end of the month, establish a level of fitness where Pandora is capable of a light XC session, a two-mile hack with lots of trotting, or a 50-minute dressage school without feeling tired. Maybe not to the cardiovascular galloping fitness of before, but to a comfortable level.

Evaluation: Success, for sure! She's pretty much back to normal - needs to build up more musculature and suppleness for more difficult work, but a 60-minute dressage school is well within her capabilities, as is a light XC session. She has stayed sound.

September Goals: Capable of 60-minute dressage session of mostly trotting and cantering or a 45-minute jumping session. To accomplish this, we'll split things up: ride for 40 minutes in the indoor, spend 10 minutes doing gridwork in the outdoor, head to the big field for some trotting and cantering, then hop through the grid a few more times.
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).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

August Week 3 Review

Monday 8/17
I had a lovely ride, 35 minutes. Working really hard on a systematic, clear progression from cue-horse response-reward/discipline. To that end, I make all requests light and soft, as I would expect her to respond to very soft aids; if she responds correctly, I immediately praise or pet her, while if she responds incorrectly, I immediately back up the cue with a stronger aid or correction (voice, tap of the whip, etc).
This has resulted in energetic upwards transitions and the best leg-yields I've ever gotten. It's so much clearer now: when before she'd always rush in trot leg-yields, now she understands exactly what I want. I ask, and if she doesn't do it, I tap behind my leg with the whip. She immediately goes sideways - while quickening her pace - and I relax the aid and praise thoroughly. Next time I ask, she instantly moves over and still quickens, and I praise again. Next time I ask, I remind her gently with my seat and hands to not quicken as she moves over, and voila, a lovely leg yield.
Definitely looking forward to exploring this more. Not all cues are as black-and-white, especially in terms of how to discipline for non-response.

Tuesday 8/18
Hot hot hot day. I gave her the day off.
We picked up a bale of hay from the boarding barn we're moving to, so we can start switching the girls over and avoid digestive upset. Less than two weeks until we move!

Wednesday 8/19
Another day off.

Thursday 8/20
Eh. I had a so-so ride. Rode for about 45, almost 50 minutes. I worked hard on FORWARD when I say, and I tried to work on bending left at the trot, but just...none of it seemed to click. I feel like we're getting somewhere but nothing I try is working on the bend thing and it's frustrating.

Friday 8/21
Okay, this ride makes up for yesterday's ride. 35 minutes and absolutely awesome. I did some "judge box therapy" setting up a chair with cones and flower boxes at the end of the arena, which was really good because Pandora always freaks at judge's booths. But mostly we returned to the concept of yesterday: give a specific cue that has a specific correct answer, then always either reward the right answer or discipline/correct the wrong one. I had to break 'left bend' down into smaller steps, using turn on the forehand, leg yield, and especially get correct bend on a walk circle then pick up the trot for a few strides. By doing this I was able to hold her in the correct bend, long enough to praise her so she knows what I want at least.
Also I realized I tend to lean to the inside when bending left, so being aware of that helped.

Saturday 8/22
Okay ride. 30, 35 minutes or so. Had a 10-minute short session in the arena, w/t/c, which went really well. Her canter is getting better and better. Lots of power, and now she is starting to be able to slow down again!
Then went for a hack outside. She was super fantastic going away from home - not spooky even at the great big pirate flag, trot/canter in the grass with beautiful downward transitions at a gentle half-halt. My mistake was when I asked her to do the same on the way home, where she did not want to listen to a gentle half-halt. It caught me a little off-guard, so I had to get really strong with her and spin her around. Very frustrating - I probably worry too much but I always feel like I'm undoing training when I do that. So I schooled some transitions, both going away from and going towards home, but I never really felt like I got through to her.
Should have known better as she's always rushy when going home. Argh.
Well, I know better for next time. I can trot/canter away from home, then coming back if I want to trot I will make sure to school half-halts first.

Sunday 8/23
Another day off. That's three this week, I know, I know.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August Week 2 Review

Monday 8/10
Rode for 30 minutes. Lots of walking and trotting - we pulled out a little bridge thing and it was a lot of fun to walk her over it, she was pretty suspicious but willing and got very confident as we continued to ride over it. At the end, I cantered her about one lap in each direction. Pretty uncoordinated, goodness! I just have to remind myself that her trot was like that when I started riding last week, and it should only take a few rides for her lovely canter to come back. I hope so. At any rate, her trot work continues to improve.

Tuesday 8/11
Mom got a lesson tonight so I did not end up riding. I am thinking about taking her to a clinic in Redmond with Brian Sabo in September. It's $100 more than the Inavale camp in September, but from a quick Google, he's pretty much amazing. A friend is going, so I'd have a ride and a buddy. Time to do a quick evaluation of the checking account, but I'm leaning towards yes.

Wednesday 8/12
I had a fantastic ride. I almost have my old girl back! W/t/c, almost 30 minutes all told. Her trot is steadily working its way toward the quality that it was before she went lame, although I can tell she's not in 100% perfect shape because she wants to lean on the forehand and because she seems to be slipping a lot in the hind end - dropping a hind leg here and there on turns smaller than 20m circle. If I put her together and make her work, the slippage goes away more.
Canter work is still fairly rough but a world better than on Monday. She felt like she actually remembered what to do when cantering with a rider up there! Still only did about a lap in each direction but it felt much better, and I got a few strides of her carrying herself without leeeeeeeaning on my hands. Good progress, and I'm pleased.

Thursday 8/13
Another ride. She was very good tonight. Canter much better - I hopped over one little cavaletto a couple times and she was definitely taking me forward to it just like the good girl I know.

Friday 8/14
Free-longed the girls. She got quite the workout, lots of cantering and galloping.

Saturday 8/15
Day off, I was in Seattle.

Sunday 8/16
Jumping lesson, it got moved a day earlier. By normal standards, it was pretty bad: really rushed a 6-stride ground pole line (though we did get one round of a quiet go-through), sorta blew through my hands to the base of every fence. But, it was her first jumping session in about two months, so I'll cut her some slack.
Instructor did show me that instead of sweeping my outside leg back to ask for a lead, which doesn't do much good, I should just turn the toe out and squeeze with the heel. Logically the aid doesn't quite make sense - shouldn't I push her off my inside leg too? - so I will explore it some more, but it worked 4 times in a row for landing on the left lead which she rarely if ever does. So, useful tidbit there.
Guess it's time to practice cantering ground poles again. We were good at it for awhile, and it's a good skill to have.
Need to practice my sitting trot. It was surprisingly good on Pandora considering I've never worked hard on riding her in sitting trot - instructor had me tighten my abs a little instead of allowing my lower back to swing loose, which I always thought you were supposed to do, but maybe I just need a happy medium. It seemed to work pretty well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

August Week 1 Review

Saturday 8/1
Longed her. I don't know, she seems alright, but just a little off at the canter. Maybe stiffness, who knows.

Sunday 8/2
First ride. Just walk/trot, lasted about 20 minutes. Feels weird to ride her again, very long, she wants to plunk around with her neck telescoped way out and level. I don't know, nice and relaxed I guess. While we're still getting into it, I'm going to let her stay pretty level like that.

Monday 8/3
Longe session. She was really good this time, moving out nicely, she even played a little at the canter. Of course the extent of her playfulness is tossing her head and taking a few leaping strides with a tiny bit of striking out at the canter, all the while maintaining a perfect circle and never tugging on the line. Silly girl. Still, it was heartening - she looked good. 20 minutes total, 2 minutes of cantering each direction, lots of trot and walk work.

Tuesday 8/4
Rode again, close to 30 minutes. Still just w/t. She seems really good. I'm running back into that wall again, feeling lost in dressage-land and wanting some serious lessons for guidance. Then I remember that it's the second time I've ridden her in almost two months, and I should probably chill out a little bit. Sigh.

Wednesday 8/5
Very light ride, just 15 minutes of mostly walk with a little trot.

Thursday 8/6
Good aerobic workout for her today! I free-longed the girls in the arena.

Friday 8/7
Day off - we were camping.

Saturday 8/8
Day off.

Sunday 8/9
Got back from camping and we were pretty tired, so the girls got free-longed again. Good workout though.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back On Track

I hate trying to catch up on this thing when I've let it sit for awhile!

Let's see: the last month I completed was June, since she had the entire month of July off. So, first things first, let's do the June evaluation, then make some modifications to the July/August/September goals.

June Outline
More hard work this month. Attending an eventing derby clinic and then an eventing derby at Inavale on the 5th and 6th. Finals week is the 8th – 12th. Lily Glen Eventing Camp is the 18th – 22nd, then Inavale’s annual HT is the 26th – 28th - won't be riding, but I'm grooming. Basically just another month to keep pushing the envelope. We REALLY need to put in some solid dressage schooling.

End-of-month goal: Achieve a good BN-level dressage test away from home - to include good bend, transitions, and gaits. Develop the correct pacing for a smooth stadium round. Further develop towards a soft, adjustable, balanced gallop in the open. Push the height a little bit more, making sure to include lots of Novice-height (2'11) fences in the mix. Restore our ability to bend well. Jump banks into/out of water, given the opportunity.

  • Good BN test away from home: eh, not so much. My dressage is by far the weakest link, which bothers me. I have a plan, though. Not complete.
  • Develop the correct pacing for a smooth stadium round: Hard to say, since I didn't get much chance to do stadium courses. But, she did very well when we coursed at the derby, so I give this one a pass.
  • Develop towards a soft, adjustable, balanced gallop in the open: oh hell yes, this one is definitely a pass. I love galloping her and though we have a long ways to go, it only keeps getting better.
  • Push the height, making sure to include N-height fences: again, very much completed. I jumped all kinds of Novice fences at Lily Glen, and Pandora was a rock star.
  • Restore bendability: again, no pass because I haven't had a chance.
  • Jump banks/water, given opportunity: no opportunity :(
Okay. So, that's taken care of.

Here were my supposed July and August goals:
We will take it a bit easy the first week to give Pandora a break from all our schooling/conditioning/competing. The second week, we’ll pick it back up a bit, because Inavale’s Adult Eventing Camp is the 10th – 12th. Will probably enter at Novice level to help me prepare to compete at Novice in September. At the end of the month is a PC Mega-rating, where I will get my D-3. Considering getting my C-1 at this time as well, but there is another Mega-rating in September, so I may just plan to attend both.
End-of-month-goal: Be a solid D-3 or C-1 and feel prepared to tackle a Novice-level eventing competition. Schooling courses at 3’, beginning to really work on 1st-level dressage, totally comfortable in the open and jumping into/out of water.

A bit of breathing room this month before September. There’s a PC Eventing outreach program the first weekend, which will be a good XC schooling opportunity. Too far away to really set good goals!
End-of-month goal: Feel prepared for a Novice-level schooling HT, feel prepared for a C-1 rating if I haven’t taken it already.

So. Let's make a few modifications, since July was spent (hopefully completely) recovering from a lameness, and I'm bringing her gradually into work in August. I did pass my D-3 on McKinna in July, though.

August Goals: Bring Pandora slowly but steadily back into regular work. Include at least once-weekly walk hacks around the conditioning loop. Slowly reintroduce jumping before a lesson on the 17th, where I will tell the instructor that I want to take it pretty easy. By the end of the month, establish a level of fitness where Pandora is capable of a light XC session, a two-mile hack with lots of trotting, or a 50-minute dressage school without feeling tired. Maybe not to the cardiovascular galloping fitness of before, but to a comfortable level.

September Goals: Continue to develop fitness. Do a lot of gridwork, until Pandora is very relaxed about it. May or may not go to the Inavale eventing camp the second week - depends on her fitness and my finances. If she is still sound, we will head for the Mega Rating at the very end of the month and go for my C-1.

Of course, this all depends on her continuing soundness, of which I am far from convinced. I've longed her a few times since her prolonged bute-and-rest, and she seems alright, but yesterday she was just NQR at the canter on the longe. I can't tell if it's lingering lameness or just stiffness, but I'm not getting excited about any goals until I'm confident that she is staying sound.

Anyway, I will get back into my regular riding/training log now.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

July Week 1 Review

Monday 6/29
Longed her. She is head-bobbing lame at the trot. More icing, hosing.

Tuesday 6/30
Pretty much all swelling down, but still lame. Called the vet.

Wednesday 7/1
Left her mostly alone again, still more hosing. Not much in the way of swelling.

Thursday 7/2
Vet visit. The verdict? Her wound on LH is absolutely fine. It's actually her RF that she's lame in. So, so weird. Nerve block shows it's somewhere in her hoof, so two weeks of paddock rest with anti-inflammatories (plus antibiotics to keep the wound healing clean) and then a re-evaluation. Fingers crossed she's not lame, because then we get on with our lives. If she still is, then we go to x-rays.
Needless to say, camp and the rating are off with Pandora. Thankfully I have McKinna as a solid backup and now it's time to get to work.

Friday 7/3
Well, she's not the biggest fan of chilling out. Thank goodness she's allowed to still be in a paddock with McKinna. Anyway, mixing her powdered bute and antibiotics with applesauce didn't work - she wouldn't even eat the applesauce plain - and she wasn't the biggest fan of that mixed with molasses and grain either. So we're going to take the easiest option: mix enough applesauce and molasses to make a paste, put it in an old clean dewormer tube, and give it to her like dewormer. She's always good for that, so hopefully she'll handle two weeks of that treatment.

I guess this will function as a riding log for McKinna for the next few weeks. McKinna was very good tonight. I'm curious to try some positive reinforcement/clicker work with her, as she's incredibly intelligent. I feel like the key I really need is to get her to stretch her head and neck down and get her butt underneath her, instead of elevating her neck from the base and trailing out behind. Silly short Arab-neck. Anyway, I really think if I can just get her to do that, we'll progress in huge leaps and bounds. It will be interesting to try.
My plan of attack is two-fold. First I will try longeing her in vienna side reins, where hopefully she can figure out for herself that stretching down is cool, especially at the canter. Second, I'll do some clicker work in earnest. She's already got a pretty solid grasp of what it means, but I'll spend some time refreshing her memory with targeting work. Then I'm going straight to under saddle. I'll first reinforce putting her head down at the halt -- no matter how relaxed she is at the walk, as soon as she halts, the head pops straight up. Don't think it's anxiety, just habit. If I can break that and get her to remain low with a light contact, I can move it up the gaits.
Don't know how well it will work, but it'll be a nice experiment. Hopefully it goes well.
Oh, and I got a pair of bell boots for her for $4 today - really nice thick rubber ones with good velcro. Awesome.

Saturday 7/4
Fourth of July. Woo.

Monday, June 29, 2009

June Week 4 Review

Monday 6/22
Day off, of course! She is back to gobbling up her grain like normal, I think she just wasn't all that comfortable at Lily Glen. She was kind of tense all the time, never seemed fully relaxed. Everything was really open there.

Tuesday 6/23
Another day off. Still back to eating grain normally and looking for more when it's done.

Wednesday 6/24
Longe session. She was very nicely behaved and we got a good workout in. Last time I longed her, I decided to give her a peppermint every time she stopped nicely. She clearly remembered this, because she kept offering very nice polite halts when I asked for a walk! From a horse who prefers to take a full circle to come to a ragged halt, it was impressive. I will definitely have to explore this further.

Thursday 6/25
Sigh. I swung by the barn midafternoon to feed the horses, since I was headed up to groom for a couple friends at the Inavale HT. Pandora had blood all spattered down her left hind sock, which freaked me the hell out, since I couldn't see what was going on up on her leg. I got someone to hold her while I hosed it, and it looks like she stomped at a fly or something while backed up to a fence, because it was a slice from the bottom up. It sliced up under a pretty thick flap of skin but didn't take the skin all the way off. No deep puncture wound, so no need to call the vet, and she was walking sound. Not much swelling. Hosed it for about 15 minutes then put furazone on it. Covered with a gauze square, wrapped with gauze, then vetwrap over the top and put her back out.

Dang horse.

Friday 6/26
I was at Inavale all day, so my parents took care of Pandora. Apparently she's pretty stocked up, but still seems to be walking fine.

Saturday 6/27
Yeesh, my parents weren't kidding. I walked out to find a horse with three legs and one stovepipe. We'll definitely do some icing tomorrow! She's not too happy about being treated, keeps hiking her leg up and even acted like she was thinking about kicking me. She got a whack on the butt for that one, but mostly I think she was just nervous. Did the same wrapping deal.

Also were out in the pasture to find a lost flymask, and we found a small (~4ft) section where a gap was closed with barbed wire. NOT cool. I can't believe we've never walked that fenceline, and I can't believe that they actually have barbed wire in there. I don't know if that's where she hurt herself, but either way I'm not okay with it, and I'm going to ask that it be removed ASAP.

Sunday 6/28
More icing, hosing, etc etc.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

June Week 3 Review

I skipped Week 2 because, well, I didn't keep track and I honestly don't remember what it was like.

Oh, wait, now I remember. That was finals week. And I pretty much didn't ride, at all. Except Wednesday night, which went badly because I was tired and she was all tense and spooky. Then I went off to Washington and came back.

Monday 6/15
Free longed her. Girl went bonkers, really just tearing around like a madwoman, worked herself into quite the lather. Jumping around a lot. Went to hose her off and she jumped at everything, she was driving me nuts. After I hosed her down I put her on the longe line and thankfully she quieted down for some calm w/t/c before I put her back in the pasture.

Tuesday 6/16
Longed on the line again. I had a very nice, well-behaved pony.

Wednesday 6/17
Off to Ashland for Pony Club camp! She was very good for the trailer ride, nice and calm. Not particularly thrilled about her new surroundings at camp. Went for a bareback hack and she was good. Played in the water a little, cantered around, almost fell off, etc.
Not too interested in hay or grain or water, but not bad.

Thursday 6/18
XC and pacing lessons. XC was faaaabulous. She was pretty tense and energetic when we got out there, and didn't want to go through the (muddy, deep) water crossing, but once we warmed up she settled right down. Jumped like a rockstar, super forward and well-behaved.
Pacing was fun. I was expecting more instruction, e.g., here's how to help differentiate between a 200 mpm pace and a 350, here's how to help maintain a balanced speed, but basically we went on a random little trail ride and then she showed us the big pacing loop and told us how long it should take us if we rode a certain speed. My friend and I got lost the first time. I wanted to test the gears a little, so I asked how long 350 mpm should take, and she said 2:50. It took me like 2:30, and that was with having to trot the switchbacks in the woods and holding her back when we got to the open areas. Fun fun.
Drinking lots more water, still not particularly interested in grain, but eating most of it and eating decent amounts of hay.

Friday 6/19
Grids and dressage. Grids was absolutely awful. I was having a hard time understanding what the instructor wanted - to me, her instructions were kind of contradictory, but it was probably mutual communication error - and we had pretty much no warmup, which is generally a no-no for Pandora if she's feeling anxious. Which she was.
Tried to put in the requested number of trot steps before a cross-rail, which ended up with Pandora flipping her head and whacking me in the nose with her poll, which hurt a lot and really frustrated me. Spent the rest of the lesson trying to just get her to chill the heck out, which she wouldn't. Jigging, chewing hard at the bit, just WOULD. NOT. SETTLE. DOWN. It drives me crazy STILL thinking about it! I finally got her to walk quietly on a loose rein, when she saw a group of horses wayyyyy across the lake and tweaked out again. I just gave up trying to get her brain back after that, and had to be content with a reasonably controlled horse for the rest of the lesson. Take-away lessons: control pace with seat not hands, don't overreact if she launches a fence, let her learn to trust the contact, and for the love of all things holy do a proper warmup.
Thankfully, the dressage session was way way better. She relaxed, stretched into my hands, and got some really nice work with the help of a spiraling circle.
Still drinking well, eating hay much better, starting to seem interested in grain. She only seems to eat lots overnight and after we come back from a ride.

Saturday 6/20
XC and dressage lessons. Jumping XC was reasonably good, but she was just a nutcase about holding still. From the time I mounted up till the time we got back, she just WOULD NOT hold still, ever, at all. If I tried to make her, she'd flip her head and get all pissy. Ugh. Finally I started spinning her in tiny circles whenever she tried to move or get grumpy about holding still, and when I did that consistently, it seemed to get the message across without causing a fight.
Thankfully she was jumping very well. Super forward and willing. While trying to decide whether to go BN or N for the derby on Sunday, I schooled a LOT of the big Novice fences, and Pandora was awesome. Super forward and willing. I was very pleased.
Dressage was eh. We did some cool reflex/biomechanics work, then each person got some individual work on our test, but she gave us feedback that was more on how to ride the test than how to ride the horse. Which was very very good, because I haven't had that much instruction on how to ride the figures well, but not much to say for the training log. Remember in a large court the 20m circle comes to the line just outside of the letters on either side of E. When turning down the centerline, bend hard, then as you turn apply the outside aids to keep them from falling out.
Course walk was a blast, having decided to do Novice. Got to hang out with some other N riders and had a good time talking as we plotted the best route.
Weather COLD COLD COLD, put her blanket on tonight and was super glad I did. Eating hay and grain much more normally now.

Sunday 6/21
Derby canceled because of too much rain. Sad face. But, at the same time, I was more than ready to go home and so was Pandora. She took the trailer ride well, although she didn't poop in there for the LONGEST time which really freaked me out since she normally poops a lot in the trailer. Two rest stops and a couple hours into the trip, she finally pooped while I was standing there, so I wasn't as concerned anymore, especially since she wasn't sweating and didn't seem uncomfortable.

June Week 1 Review

Monday 6/1
Day off, ho hum. They went out in the big mare field for the first time today! Just for a few hours but they loved it, they were eating like machines. It was super hot and muggy out.

Tuesday 6/2
Another day off - farrier came out and trimmed her up. She was a little jumpy today, maybe it was the grass? Guess I should have longed her a little to let the steam off. Terry said her feet are holding up really nicely, no chipping or anything. Good stuff.

Wednesday 6/3
Short ride! I had an exhausting day, my 15 page history paper was due and I had a business exam and all sorts of things, but I rode for about 20 minutes. We just walked and I worked really hard on the bending stuff that Biagina had us working on this weekend. It was very enlightening - I could tell it was working, but I could also tell Pandora was resisting quite a bit!
We'll definitely need to put some more time into this, but hopefully we can get a lot more loosened up and supple with some work.

Thursday 6/4
Another night off, terrible I know. There was a HUGE storm today, so they were in their stalls and a bit electrified (pardon the pun). I free longed them in the arena to let them blow off some energy, then tried on her brand new bell boots (!). They seem to fit nicely. Going one size smaller may have worked better for the size of her pasterns, but then I don't think it would have covered as much as it needs to vertically.
We're all packed up and ready to go for the clinic tomorrow!

Friday 6/5
Good clinic at Inavale. Lots of rain lately so the footing was pretty sloppy but Pandora didn't lose too much traction and it didn't seem to bother her. After field-testing the bell boots, unfortunately they don't seem to fit. They are just a tad too large and they would probably work but I hate floppy equipment so I'll have to buy a set of mediums.
Brooke had me really get my shoulders up and back, using my whole body to half-halt instead of just pulling with my hands and arms. I didn't realize how much I was letting Pandora pull me down at the base of the fence, especially over ditches! When I kept my shoulders back, she actually lifted up and jumped over the ditch instead of scooting forward with her nose on her knees.
She was great through the water. I feel like we're learning how to get a good rhythm going while jumping. I don't like pick, pick, picking at her and then throwing it away at the base of the fence, and I think with a little more practice she'll understand that if she just listens to me a few strides out we can continue on our merry little way.

Saturday 6/6
Yum, what an awesome day we had for the event derby.
Dressage was pretty bad. Footing was grass, by the time we rode the 20m circle at A was pretty slippery and muddy. She was nervous as it was - hate the way she warms up beautifully and gets tense when we go in - but once she slipped a time or two, she was done. She still executed all the movements, but her canter was the most tense gait I've ever ridden. Super tight through the back, hardly any motion at all. Definitely worried about slipping. We got a 42.6, not terrible, but not good. One 7 on the free walk, though.
Jumping was AWESOME. I had to ride her a little strongly to the first fence, a stadium vertical, but after that she was a rock star. Over everything smoothly. We only had two ugly fences, both stadium, and both of them I brought her back too much because I was overly cautious so we got nasty distances. She came out of them alright though, and for all the XC fences we had an awesome rhythm going. Over the little mini-trakehner just fine, ditch to a tight turn to a table just fine, everything was awesome. 0 jumping faults and 0 time penalties (we were 1 second under optimum time, without a watch!) meant that we moved up 5 places to take 2nd. :)
I was so proud of her. She was just amazing. Not only was our round clean, it felt good. No fighting and trying to rocket forward during the last few strides before a fence, no trying to rush in the spaces between fences, no diving down at the base. Just a great ride and we were really in sync.

Sunday 6/7
Day off.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

May Review, June Outline

May Outline
Now is the time to truly put everything together, and start thinking about our summer eventing destinations. We are going to go schooling at Inavale, so I will get practice jumping XC and through water and galloping in the open. We need to catch up on the April goals, working in more jumping work: low wide oxers and single fences at 2'9+. We need to get on top of the dressage and really make some progress there.
This is our last month really schooling at home before the summer hits. I've got eventing camps the next two months and then ratings in July and September.

End-of-month goal: Feel prepared to have a solid competition at Beginner Novice -- though I have decided not to attend the HT due to the cost. Easily smooth and controlled w/t/c/g in the open with good half-halts at gallop, smooth and controlled fences at 2’9 or higher (some stadium, but focusing on XC), excellent fitness. Walk, trot, and canter through water. Achieve a reasonable dressage test away from home.

  • Prepared to have a solid competition at BN: Yeah, pretty much. We wouldn't win, and our dressage needs some serious work (more on that later). But our stadium is solid and our XC is improving in leaps and bounds. I'm going to call this one successful.
  • Easily smooth and controlled w/t/c/g with half-halts at g: For the level we are at, yes. I need to practice changing the shape and speed of her gallop at faster speeds, but for BN-level stuff, we are good. Success.
  • Smooth and controlled fences at 2'9 or higher: They could be smoother, but we're getting there and making progress. After the derbies next weekend I think I'll feel more comfortable with this, too - and we'll just keep building height over the summer. BN is only up to 2'7, and my C1 is up to 2'9, so I'm pretty much in the clear already. Success.
  • Excellent fitness: Yep, pretty much. There's always more to do, of course, but she came through a 1.5 hour XC lesson and had plenty of go at the end. Success.
  • W/t/c through water: Most DEFINITELY a success. Not even worried about water anymore - next step will be to practice jumping into it!
  • Achieve reasonable dressage away from home - well, it depends on how you define reasonable. She does all the gaits and figures when and where I tell her to, and we scored a 40.5 at the CT. We need to improve, but I will call this success.
Woohoo, a whole month of success! May was a good month!

June Outline
More hard work this month. Attending an eventing derby clinic and then an eventing derby at Inavale on the 5th and 6th. Finals week is the 8th – 12th. Lily Glen Eventing Camp is the 18th – 22nd, then Inavale’s annual HT is the 26th – 28th - won't be riding, but I'm grooming. Basically just another month to keep pushing the envelope. We REALLY need to put in some solid dressage schooling.

End-of-month goal: Achieve a good BN-level dressage test away from home - to include good bend, transitions, and gaits. Develop the correct pacing for a smooth stadium round. Further develop towards a soft, adjustable, balanced gallop in the open. Push the height a little bit more, making sure to include lots of Novice-height (2'11) fences in the mix. Restore our ability to bend well. Jump banks into/out of water, given the opportunity.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

May Week 4 Review

Tuesday 5/26
Day off after the hard ride yesterday.

Wednesday 5/27
I had a reasonable ride. It was constructive, and we got some good work done, but she just WILL NOT bend correctly to the left and it's driving me off the wall. She tilts her face to the right and locks up all down her neck and arghhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday 5/28
Chiropractor day! Lots of things to work on but I'm super pleased: he says all her issues now are typical of hard-working eventers - regular hard athletics-induced tweaks, not fundamental problems with how she's carrying herself. Let's look at the sheet...
Lots of 2s and a few 3s - this is on his scale of 5, where 1 is 'nothing wrong' and 5 is 'get some Bute in the horse tonight and I'll come out tomorrow to work this thing out.' She used to get quite a lot of 4s with a few 3s, and he was VERY pleased with her progress.
Minor things in her jaw, neck, a little twist in her back, a little tightness in her tail. She had 3s in elbow/deltoids and triceps area, stifle/bicep area, and some abdominal muscles. He said these are pretty common in eventers - front-end stuff.
Here's his written comments: "Elbow torque with retracted shoulder - slow strong release to straight stride and posture. Minor lumbar and neck - multiplies counter balance."

Friday 5/29
Awesome XC lesson at the Westlake's farm. Lots of uphills, just enough to keep Pandora really nicely balanced and in tune with half-halts. Good variety, some trotting downhill, bigger and smaller fences, good long gallop uphill to a brush fence, one ditch with log in the back, over a water-trough skinny with no troubles. Superstar horse tonight.

Saturday 5/30
Dressage lesson with Biagina. It was awesome! Pandora was not pleased to be pulled out for another lesson after a hard day's work yesterday, but at Lily Glen we'll be riding twice a day for four days in a row, so she'd better get used to it.
She had us working on bend. I didn't realize how resistant Pandora was until Biagina made me do it right! I know what to do now, though - she was having me really just INSIST that Pandora bend, never mind the outside shoulder. When I asked, she said I could ask her to bend properly (without popping out the outside shoulder) once she was willingly and softly bending her neck. Very educational.
She changed the way I hold my hands, asking me to have a little more bend in my wrist. Surprising - I thought wrists were supposed to be straight - but Pandora responded very well.
She insisted that I separate the functions of inside and outside reins. Outside is for speed and asking the head to come down, inside is for bend.
Also suggested longeing in side reins, because at the canter she's pulling me out of a balanced position so I can't ride well. That means I need to acquire a surcingle and side reins - already have the longeing caveson - but it seems like it would be a good long-term investment anyway.
Overall it was a very constructive lesson and I really like her.

Sunday 5/31
Okay, NOW she gets a day off :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Week 3 Review

Monday 5/18
Gave Pandora another day off.

Tuesday 5/19
I had kind of a frustrating ride. She was behaving pretty oddly - rushing (which she rarely does) with short little steps, basically just tuning me out. I kept at it for about a half hour and eventually realized we weren't going to get any productive work done. So I spent 10 minutes or so doing some nice, quiet, polite walk work, then called it a day. You can't win 'em all, right?

Wednesday 5/20
Had a much better ride tonight. Schooled dressage. That dang left bend is coming back to haunt us again, and badly - she simply would not flex her jaw to the left at the trot, nor would she bend politely without swinging her haunches out. I did the best I could to correct it, riding hard, riding soft, flexing at the walk and halt, free trot, but nothing shook it loose. In the end I decided to just ride correctly and ignore it, which confused her a bit I think, but led to some reasonably productive work.
I have a call in to the chiropractor. I understand some of the left bend issue is psychological, but when she's resisting me this strongly, it usually means she's being bothered. Besides, it has been about 2 months since her last appointment, and every 2 months is usually when she starts getting out of whack again.

Thursday 5/21
Nice short hack with my mom and McKinna. Pandora was much better this time than the last time we went out with McKinna, very calm and relaxed. On the way back McKinna was acting terrible and we had a hard spook-session at some trash cans. I made Pandora go up and make friends with the trash can, but couldn't spend too long on it because Mom and McKinna were having some behavioral problems. We were close to home but McKinna was awfully naughty after that, ignoring Mom and spooking and generally misbehaving. Pandora kept her head on straight, so that was good. I guess I need to do some schooling with McKinna out on the roads by herself.

Friday 5/22
Day off. They have been out in paddocks 24/7 so no big deal.

Saturday 5/23
Gallop session! We definitely made some progress. I did one round of 6/3/1 (6 minutes walking, 3 minutes trotting, 1 minute canter/gallop), then did several reps of a walk rest/gallop set. I'm not sure how long those were, but the gallop sets were close to 3 or 4 minutes and the walks were about the same.
She was great. I tried riding with a bridge at the gallop and it seemed to make a big difference - I will have to explore this more. There were times when she listened really well and came back to me the moment I half-halted on a light rein, there were times when she wanted to ignore me completely. We got going pretty fast sometimes and it was very cool. Just as I hoped when I started my galloping practice, I have lost a lot of my fear and am a lot more comfortable letting her open up the gears a little bit.
Also found out she does flying changes on her own. The first time it was an accident, because she picked up the wrong lead and tried to really run for it, so I put her on a small circle. She swapped leads to be on the correct one. So, in my next gallop set, I did a nice big figure-8 through the field and asked her to change. She didn't change exactly when I asked, but a stride or two later. We did it one more time after that. So, I don't have to worry about lead changes on XC!
It was a great experience. We did 4 or maybe 5 gallop sets total. She cooled out really nicely - after about 4 minutes of walking her breathing was pretty much normal. I untacked her, hosed her down with cool water (which she never approves of, but tough luck), scraped her, then put her out in the paddock to get a drink of water and a nice long roll.

Sunday 5/24
Another day off. Hard work yesterday, hard work tomorrow!

Monday 5/25
It was an interesting day. We rode a course of 20 fences, spread all through the derby field and out into the upper field, in randomly drawn pairs. Unfortunately, my partner seemed to have turbo jets, even garnering a warning from the announcer to slow down (the course was not timed). Therefore, the whole ride I was stuck between trying to keep up with her (and thus letting Pandora go a bit faster than I wanted, thus exciting her, thus making me have to floss her teeth every time I wanted her attention) or trying to slow down, which made me fall way behind and get confused about what I was jumping next.
It was frustrating. Pandora was not nearly as responsive as I wanted her to be, at ALL. I think that was the most upsetting part, especially because I think with any other partner it would have gone a lot more smoothly.
We need to do some serious schooling about straightness and steering. It's not that she doesn't really go in the direction I point her, but a lot of times she kinda drifts sideways and ignores my outside rein. Not okay.
On the plus side, Pandora did not spook or try to stop at any fences. And we jumped a bunch of big, solid 2'9 ones. My partner and I ended up taking 3rd place, not too bad.
In the drawing afterwards, I won a free lesson from the trainer at the farm. So, I am going to go out there and take a XC lesson from her sometime soon and we can hopefully work through some of these frustrating problems.
At least I know that next month I have five days at Lily Glen, and that much intensive work should really help me out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May Progress Check

End-of-month goal: Feel prepared to have a solid competition at Beginner Novice -- though I have decided not to attend the HT due to the cost. Easily smooth and controlled w/t/c/g in the open with good half-halts at gallop, smooth and controlled fences at 2’9 or higher (some stadium, but focusing on XC), excellent fitness. Walk, trot, and canter through water. Achieve a reasonable dressage test away from home.

I believe I nailed most of these goals yesterday alone!

Prepared to compete at BN - yep. We wouldn't win, but we wouldn't be dead last either. She is forward and willing, and hasn't given me any indication yet that she is scared of any fences. Her dressage is fantastic at home and in warmup, just a little distracted and nervous in the competition arena, which can only be fixed by miles.

Smooth and controlled w/t/c/g in open with half halts at gallop - we're not quite there yet. I have the smooth and controlled w/t/c. Our gallop is smooth and reasonably controlled, but I just don't have the level of half-halts I want. I know what I need to do: spend a whole session just working on half-halts in the open and immediate, prompt responses. We are at a stage where her occasional ignoring of the bit does not mean we need a stronger bit, it just means we need more practice and training.

Smooth and controlled fences at 2'9 or higher (stadium, mostly XC) - definitely yes. I've realized that schooling fences at the boarding barn just doesn't tend to work out, probably because the arena is sloped strangely in odd places and it's a tad small. I will have to see what I can do to minimize this. But, at the Combined Test yesterday, we were smooth and controlled over the stadium fences, and over XC fences that were easily 3'. The only thing we need to do here is learn to take bigger/more forward steps so we quit chipping in at weird distances.

Excellent fitness - sure? I am not sure how to tell, to be honest. Well, I know I need to do a workout and check her t/p/r consistently. Okay, for the last two weeks of May I will be firm with myself and check tpr frequently to at least give myself a baseline.

Walk, trot, canter through water - took care of this one yesterday ;) I don't think my girl has a water 'problem' anymore.

Reasonable dressage test away from home - again, we did this yesterday. It wasn't spectacular, but it was certainly reasonable. Now I know what to improve next time.

Overall, I damn near completed this month's goals in the first couple weeks. Go me!

May Week 2 Review

Monday 5/11
Had a good ride. Worked on dressage things, she was obedient. Since the weather was nice, we went out to the field and I ran through Beginner Novice Test A, knowing that her attention outside would be more similar to what it'll be like at the show on Saturday. She was 'up' but quite good, we had a beautiful canter transition to the right.

Tuesday 5/12
Day off.

Wednesday 5/13
Good dressage school. I don't really remember what I worked on, but I was pleased with it!

Thursday 5/14
Jump school. Not the best ride I've ever had. The arena was a little crowded, we spent a little too much time on tiny fences, the two-stride was more like 1 and 3/4 strides...just frustrating. Then she wouldn't settle down, especially coming to the 2'9ish diagonal panel fence, which she charged at every time. She jumped a big square oxer nicely though. Frustrating in general.
Went out to the field to cool my temper - the other girls came with, and we ended up having a good time just galloping around the field together. Pandora has found a good cruising pace, no idea how fast it is, but it's steady when I just hang out in 2-point with a light contact. Chased some geese. It was good to get out and run, I think it helped both of us burn off some frustrated energy.

Friday 5/15
Bath time! She is so easy, just hook up this sprayer bottle to the hose, wet her down, spray all over with the soapy stuff, then rinse. The only things you have to do separately are her mane, tail, and tiny little socks. She stood like a champ the whole time and was super shiny and clean.

Saturday 5/16
Wonderful day at the schooling show (combined test), better than I was hoping for. Dressage was very mediocre - judge gave us a 40.5 (eventing score), which I thought was quite generous. That put us tied for 5th.
Stadium was really good. I was on her too long - I think she really prefers about a 10 minute warmup for stadium, just enough to w/t/c and jump a couple fences, she gets cranky if I stay on her for too long. Which I did, since the divisions were running a little late. I hopped off and stood with her, which helped her settle down. Our round was pretty good. She was not spooky at the fences, of which several were set at max height. Pace was steady. We got awkward distances to most things, but she came out of everything fine. I realize every time that to hit the striding, we just need to ride with more pace/a bigger step.
Ended up fourth overall, and I'm quite happy with that!
Went out to school XC after the show was over. It was hot. Jumped a few things, decided to tackle the water, which was decidedly anticlimactic. After about 30 seconds of walking back and forth at water's edge, she walked right in and sploshed through the relatively deep water with no qualms. We trotted and even cantered through, and she was happy as a clam. If we cantered away from a fence toward the water, I had to practically drag her back to the trot, and then she started cantering in the water anyway. Silly horse.
I made up a little course. We jumped a small unrevetted ditch and then one with a log over it. I went over some larger rolltops and coosp, definitely Novice at least. Kept getting tight distances until I let her go a tiny bit more, the last fence was perfect. Need to practice galloping more - steering/not drifting to the outside, and pace regulation. Her rating is not as responsive or prompt as I would like. I'm sure I'll get help with that at my eventing camps this summer.
A fantastic day, overall.

Sunday 5/17
A well-deserved day off :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May Week 1 Review

Friday May 1
I'm pretty sure I rode, but I actually don't remember :x

Saturday May 2
Awesome dressage lesson with Melinda. Worked on really getting her to carry herself and moving towards real connection -- it's new for both of us and still very hard to feel correctly, so we'll need more lessons. Worked on 20-meter circle almost the whole time, after warmup. Reins much shorter, need to stop throwing her away just when she relaxes into contact. Always always always steady outside rein, outside leg BACK to keep the haunches in line, flex slightly inside with the rein while bending with the inside leg, then release and ask her to soften into the contact.
Interspersed periods of this with free walk or trot or canter. The quality of her gait changed a lot when we went into free motion: swinging, freer, longer steps. I need to maintain this feeling once I connect her again. Melinda says to always give the inside-bend aids before allowing a free rein, to help associate gentle inside softening with total relaxation.

Sunday May 3
Day off. She got free-longed around the round pen, since the OHSET team was using the arena for the whole time we were out there. It was VERY wet in the [outdoor] round pen, and Pandora was not a big fan of all the puddles, but she still went nicely.

So let me preface this by saying that I did reeeeally bad this week. I was having a bit of a rough week school-wise, and my dog injured himself in the middle of the night Monday, so I just..didn't really ride. Which is bad! Next month is going to be a huge month for me, and I have a Combined Test next weekend (dressage and stadium jumping) that's going to be just awful if I don't get some riding time in. So next week I need to really buckle down.

Monday May 4

Tuesday May 5

Wednesday May 6
Free-longed. Seeing a pattern yet?

Thursday May 7
Had a great ride tonight. I rode with a friend around the 2-mile loop. We went through a lot of water-filled ditches today, which I would say was a mediocre success. She always took a flying leap the first time. Twice we stopped to school it. The first time it was pretty long, and very shallow, and a bit running, so it was like a small little stream. She actually would walk through it, but just did not like having her feet in the water. The next time was a much larger, deeper pond-type thing, but not too deep. We leapt over it the first time (probably 6 feet?) and when I tried to get her to go through it, she just would not budge. I felt bad, but I didn't want to just leave it. So I got off and tried to lead her through. She disapproved, but went through once. The next time, she finally seemed to give in: she paused, very deliberately took a step into the water, and walked/trotted through without leaping or running me over. I called that good.
Doing this is actually much harder than it's going to be on an XC course, for now at least -- the water complexes we'll see are very inviting, with really good footing, and not at the bottom of a [shallow] ditch. Still, it is good practice, and I can still feel definite improvement. We are not going to go to Inavale this weekend because it rained all week, so hopefully we'll get to go week after next.

Oh, we also took a detour on our loop. There's a dead-end with a big hill that we walked up - and it was a beast! Pretty steep and long. Pandora really powered up, taking big huge walk steps, but I could tell it was really hard for her. By the end she was tiring out, and I think the steepness worried her a little. I will be careful about how often I ride it, and if we always go all the way up to the top. The rest of the ride was uneventful, though we did get a little impromptu passage when a herd of young horses galloped up to their fence and then away again. :)

Friday May 8
Pandora just stayed in the field, and they were out overnight too, finally. I had a Biology field trip to Fall Creek from 1 - 7pm, which was actually pretty fun. I can now identify lots of common native plants, and we got to go on an hourlong hike along the creek, which was really nice. The weather was perfect.

Saturday May 9
Left 'em out in the pasture. Did I mention that I have a huge history project due on Monday?

Sunday May 10
My mom and I had a nice mother's day ride today. I worked on some of the stuff I learned last week in the Melinda lesson. It went okay, I think? It's so hard to tell since she's had me working on such subtle stuff that even when she was right there guiding me, it was hard to feel exactly what was going on. Oh well - it felt like a good solid workout, and I feel like we made some progress.

Free trot to the left not good, she wants to bend to the outside and cut in and increase tempo. I know that means I'm not doing it right before I stretch her, but I'm not sure what to do, and by this time in the ride she was getting a little resistant. I guess I just need to keep trying.

The free canter was nice.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

April Review, May Outline

April Outline: Time to start thinking about XC as soon as the weather turns and courses are open for schooling. This will be the month for putting miles on Pandora: lots and lots of trail rides and road riding. We need to get over her fear of water ASAP so I don’t have to worry about it later in the season. Also need to find out if she’s controllable at speed in the open.
All our long slow distance should really help with conditioning for the upcoming months too.
I want to spend time jumping low, wide oxers and really adding frightening decorations to fences.
Finally, keep up with dressage. School some tests to troubleshoot difficult movements, and school them. I have let this slack off now that I've got a solid w/t/c with some lateral, so I need to push us in this area.

End-of-month goal: Schooling consistently over 2'9+, riding calmly in the open at w/t/c (gallop if we can find the space). Willingly walk through water. Create passable dressage tests at Training level.

  • Schooling consistently over 2'9+ - almost. We've ridden over that easily XC, but that doesn't quite count. It's just that our arena doesn't work so well for doing bigger jumps and courses. But, like I said at the midmonth progress report, I'm not too concerned about height right now. It will get there.
  • Riding calmly in the open at w/t/c/g - definitely accomplished. Galloping out in the field I've done twice: once was pretty terrible, and the second time was a wild success. I'm a lot more comfortable galloping, she's a lot more comfortable galloping with me; we can steer and slow down and go towards home without going into warp speed. We will need to explore this more, but I'm very pleased. Also, we've gone on several 2-mile hacks around the loop, walking and trotting, and she's been quite calm. The conditioning is very good for her. After the 2-mile walk she's not breathing hard but she does get quite warm, so I'm glad the conditioning is helping. Eventually I'll walk the 2-mile loop, then up and back down another big hill-road, which will add another mile onto the ride.
  • Willingly walk through water - well, we just haven't had the chance to practice this. But on our hacks around the loop, there are many ditches in the side of the road, some which occasionally get pretty sloppy in the bottom. She doesn't like it, but most importantly, she goes forward when I ask her to. Right now I don't care if forward means 'walk through' or 'take flying leap over,' because forward is always the right answer. We are trailering to Inavale this coming weekend, which will put us miles ahead in the water issue as I'll be able to practice in their water complex.
  • Create passable dressage tests at T-level - um...not quite. Like I've mentioned, I've been feeling really stuck in my dressage lately. I have a dressage lesson on Saturday May 2nd, so that should help a lot.
Overall, this month was pretty successful. We made steady progress, and the only goal we truly failed was the last one, which will be remedied ASAP because of dressage lessons.

May Outline

Now is the time to truly put everything together, and start thinking about our summer eventing destinations. We are going to go schooling at Inavale, so I will get practice jumping XC and through water and galloping in the open. We need to catch up on the April goals, working in more jumping work: low wide oxers and single fences at 2'9+. We need to get on top of the dressage and really make some progress there.
This is our last month really schooling at home before the summer hits. I've got eventing camps the next two months and then ratings in July and September.

End-of-month goal: Feel prepared to have a solid competition at Beginner Novice -- though I have decided not to attend the HT due to the cost. Easily smooth and controlled w/t/c/g in the open with good half-halts at gallop, smooth and controlled fences at 2’9 or higher (some stadium, but focusing on XC), excellent fitness. Walk, trot, and canter through water. Achieve a reasonable dressage test away from home.

May Activities
May 2, Melinda Lesson - dressage
May 9, Schooling at Inavale - gallop and XC work, schooling through water
May 16, Combined Test at Inavale - dressage and stadium. Will be a great schooling show and chance to get Pandora competing at Inavale.
May 17, Melinda Lesson - dressage
Then the last two weeks of May I will be working on my own.

It should be a good month!

April Week 4 Review

Monday 4/27
Just longed her today. Unfortunately, it's started raining, so they're stuck in stalls again, and Pandora is clearly not happy. She behaved well on the longe -- cantering is so, so much easier for her now than it used to be!
Still wants to ignore the halt command on the longe. Listened well enough, but not as prompt as I would like.

Tuesday 4/28
Free longed the girls today to let them blow off some steam. Looks like they'll be stuck inside for awhile, though it's supposed to be nice on Thursday.
She was strangely jumpy today. When I put her in her stall, I saw her walk over to her water bucket, stretch her neck towards it, then touch the rim of it and jump as if shocked. She went away to her hay. I came in and sat next to her water bucket. She slowly approached, retreated, approached again, and touched the rim firmly several times with her muzzle. Then, like a horse following its owner as far into a trailer as possible without actually setting foot into it, she stood underneath herself with her hind legs, stretched out her neck, and drank a huge amount. Maybe a couple gallons? I stroked her as she drank, and when she was finished, she withdrew quickly though not violently so. After going back to her hay, she jumped at a noise.
Strange how she was acting almost afraid of her water bucket. The level was lower than yesterday, so I know she drank today, but I wonder what happened to make her nervous of her water bucket?? I'll have to keep a close eye on her and make sure she's drinking well.

Wednesday 4/29
Well, I just had a frustrating ride in general today. I was tired and a little grumpy, which is probably most of it. We had to hurry because the OHSET team was going to have practice at 6:30, so it didn't help that I was a little rushed. I dropped my stirrups and did some trotting and cantering, and saying it was mediocre is being kind. Ugh. I really need to practice no-stirrups work. Maybe I will have my mom longe me on her so I can practice without worrying about slowing her down.
Left bend issues came back with a vengeance. I've noticed them slightly, but tonight they were pretty bad. Couldn't do anything about it.
On the plus side, I set up some slightly raised walk cavaletti and she managed to go through them decently. It felt like her walk got a little nicer too.

Thursday 4/30
My mom free longed the girls tonight, because I was off seeing Spamalot with my dad! :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April Week 3 Review

Monday 4/20
My girl got a well-deserved day off! They have been turned out in paddocks 24/7 for the last four days or so, it's been SO nice and you can tell the horses really appreciate it.

Tuesday 4/21
Light riding day. A friend came out and got to ride, so Pandora just carted her around at the walk for a bit. Nice and easy.

Wednesday 4/22
Day off. They've still been out all day every day.

Thursday 4/23
A solid dressage schooling. Worked on bending and obedience to the leg. She was very good, and I can get some good work when I sit back. Practiced cantering slightly shoulder-fore -- very hard for her and I think it will be good to practice. Should have Mom videotape from front and behind so I can see what she's doing.
Still, I'm getting frustrated. Because Pandora's so good, we've hit the limit of what I know and can teach. I've never ridden at a higher level than we're at right now, so I don't know what to do and what to work on and what is the 'right answer' from her. So I really need to take some lessons. Once I get a few lessons and get pointed in the right direction, I'll feel better. I feel like we could really start progressing towards 1st level, if someone would just help me understand how to get her really swinging through her back and reaching into the contact.

Friday 4/24
Rode the 2-mile road loop with a friend. We spent most of the ride in the grass beside the road, so not much actual road work, but it was a fantastic workout. We trotted quite a bit, through/over many ditches (if we come up with some momentum, she goes through without hesitating, though she still wants to leap!), even through a little water. Although it was more like OVER the water, which was probably a 5-foot leap. But at least she went forward, and to me, forward is the right answer whether she's jumping it or going through it.
The rest we walked. We had a mildly hairy moment when we were about 5 feet from a fenceline that a herd of about 6 horses came galloping up to, but we got across the road before anybody had a meltdown.
Even though we spent most of it walking, Pandora was lightly sweaty when we got back. It was a great ride, beautiful outside.

Saturday 4/25
Gallop work in the field! SO much fun. I really needed to practice this, because I just don't really have any experience riding at speed, and it still freaks me out a little. I tend to want 100% adjustability all the time, and while that's good to strive for, I know that I have to let Pandora go a little bit in order to have her willing to come back to me when I ask.
We were both pretty nervous the first time, but I pushed my comfort zone and really made myself test the gears. Once we did it a couple more times, both of us relaxed a lot more. I was able to ask her to open up, and when I asked her to come back, she would. It took a much stronger half-halt than I want -- ideally, I could just open up my hip angle and close my fingers firmly on the reins -- but it's a definite start, and I didn't have to be harsh with the bit, just a few gentle tugs upward on one rein.
By the end, we could do large circles, going up to a pretty quick pace and then coming back. We even galloped a pretty long straight line back towards the barn. Before, she would really try to dig in and take off when we were facing home -- this time, she kept a steady pace and turned away when I asked her to. Good progress.
We have a long way to go, and I definitely need to learn how to tell what pace I'm going, but it felt great to get out there and practice. We have plans to do it again next Friday.

Sunday 4/26
Rest day. Still turned out.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April Progress Check

End-of-month goal: Schooling consistently over 2'9+, riding calmly in the open at w/t/c (gallop if we can find the space). Willingly walk through water. Create passable dressage tests at Training level.

We're getting there. I don't think I'm going to be able to school water by the end of April, unfortunately. I will get to it ASAP but I have a feeling it won't happen until mid-May. Perhaps I can get a couple fellow Pony Club girls to trailer to Mt. Pisgah for a trail ride with some relaxed water opportunities?

I haven't schooled anything big at home, but some of the fences I jumped at the eventing derby were easily bigger than 2'9. This weekend I will do my best to set up a grid and set the last fence at about 3', but I'm a little less concerned about height than I was. Maybe I'll set up a chute and do more free jumping?

Riding in the open we have done, two weekends in a row now. I would like to be able to have a day where I can ride in a big field and do nothing but gallop work, because I'm realizing that I am definitely not 100% comfortable riding at speed. Still, we did w/t/forward canter the past two weekends and she was very controlled, so I'm feeling like we did a good job on that this month.

As for dressage...well, I've done some good work, but not enough. I got some good ideas and exercises from the clinic I rode in on Sunday, so I will focus really hard on dressage for the rest of the week and try to make some improvement.

In all, I think I'm reasonably on track for the month, maybe a little bit behind. Some things are unavoidable though, like the water issue.

April Week 2 Review

Monday April 13
Sometime around the time it started hailing profusely during the day, I decided I didn't want to ride tonight.

Tuesday April 14
I actually had a quite nice ride. She was a little hot, and the pouring rain on the roof didn't help, but I took the energy and pushed it into some really good forward work. We did lots of transitions within the trot, forward then slower, bending, shoulders-in. When I warmed up I did serpentines and really focused on keeping her STRAIGHT when we changed direction. At first it was really hard - felt like she was bouncing between the reins and my legs, one direction, then the other! - but after a few times she understood, and stayed dead straight. It was a good exercise and I think it set a good tone for our ride.
With the extra power she had, I got a beautiful canter transition to the right: immediate and smooth. Not as much to the left, but I think I need to consider 'forward' a little more. I know that I tend to slow her down too much just because I can, but I think a more forward trot (as long as it's controlled) would be a good idea.

Wednesday April 15
Day off.

Thursday April 16
Another day off! Shame on me, I know. But they were turned out.

Friday April 17
Hacking day! They'd been stuck inside all day while most of the others were out, so Pandora was pretty much breathing fire by the time I took her out. Put them in the arena for a little while to let them burn off some steam, then tacked up and headed out for a lovely ride down the road. She behaved absolutely wonderfully. At one point, we were riding in the grass beside the road, and as we rode a ditch was on the left that had some water in it. We came to a ditch in front of us with water in it.

Uh oh!

I sat patiently, kept her nose pointing mostly forward, and let her make the decisions. I didn't harass her when she backed up; every now and then I'd suggest forward with a little squeeze, but didn't get insistent. We had a LOT of 'approach and retreat' going on, let me tell you! But each time, she got a little closer. Once we got close, she was adorable. She'd suddenly walk forward to the edge of the (shallow, with not very much water) ditch, gather her self, then lose her nerve and back a few steps. "I can do it I can do it.....oh no I can't do it!" I couldn't help but laugh. Eventually she gathered courage enough and took a flying leap over. I just grabbed mane, patted her on the other side, and we went on our merry little way.

Total distance was almost 1 mile. Just a short ride, but a very pleasant one, and she was more relaxed than the first time. Progress!

Saturday April 18
Day off.

Sunday April 19
Eventing clinic - flatwork, a little gridwork, AND cross-country. A mix of frustrating and insightful: the clinician was demanding but had good points. For flatwork, I need to keep my elbows more bent and my hands closer to me, while for jumping I need to sit up and bring them up more. She really got after me to keep Pandora moving FORWARD with the hind end, otherwise we're not going to build the fitness and balance we need.
XC was fun and I learned a lot. We were both tired but the clinician pushed us hard. I discovered that if I ride Pandora right, I can keep her up off her forehand and jump in balance even though we're both worn out. She was fantastic over the fences, didn't look or anything. We had one stop at the very very end -- I made my corner too tight and I was just so tired that I didn't ride it strong enough. When I set her up better, we went just fine.
Overall, a tough but really educational clinic. Biggest things: I need to sit back and wait for EVERY. SINGLE. FENCE. I cannot throw her away at the very last second or let her pull me down into looking at the fence too. It's hard, but I could feel it getting better.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April Week 1 Review

Wednesday April 1
Day off.

Thursday April 2
Nice dressage school. Good solid workout - w/t/some canter, really working on staying forward and getting nice bend.
I really need to take some real dressage lessons. I have never really ridden anywhere above the level I'm at right now, so I lack the practical experience. I would like to ride beyond Training Level at some point in my life, for goodness' sake.
Anyway. She was a good girl tonight.

Friday April 3
Good ride.

Saturday April 4
Betsy clinic!! I had a great time, and it was beautiful outside.
Surprisingly, this clinic wasn't as earth-shatteringly insightful as they have been in the past, perhaps because I'm at a much better place for myself this time around.
I picked up some really useful exercises. In particular, she had two sets of trot poles set up down a long side: one for a very very short, bouncy stride, and one for a more regular stride. First we did short to long, which was easy (my good girl got it the first try, woohoo!), but then we did long to short, which was hard. I'm going to practice at home.
Pandora was an absolute star. Wonderful for the canter poles. When we did our warmup fence, she was just perfect: steady trot pace, relaxed, easy, smooth jumping. I love this mare.
We cantered a course twice. The first time, I did not ride very well, sigh. Just because I can hold her back, I tend to do it too much, then we get kinda nasty distances, especially since I tend to see a long spot and freak out about adding a stride. After a gentle scolding, I rode much better the second time. I kept a medium canter going, allowed her to flow up to the base of the fence instead of picking, and we had a beautiful course.
Have I mentioned that I love this horse?

Sunday April 5
I was helping out at our second PC fund raising show - decided not to ride since I rode in the clinic yesterday and I knew I'd be tired. Which I was, since I just woke up from an hour-long nap!
We had beautiful weather - the horses were outside all day, turnout for the show was awesome, and life is good.

Monday April 6
Rode outside to enjoy the vestiges of the weekend's weather. We actually were able to ride in the mare pasture (~8 acres), and I was really hoping to get some galloping practice in, but it was just a little too squishy. I did some trotting and cantering. When we rounded a corner, Pandora did try to take off once - not too badly, but I had to floss her teeth a little to get her to come back. After that, we did some very quiet schooling up and down the long fenceline. Every time she went up to the next gait without me telling her to, I made her halt and stand for a second, after a quiet half-halt warning. Eventually she got to where she'd hold her gait nicely on a relaxed rein, even cantering, so we called it good.
All in all - considering this is the first time I've ridden her in the open (other than roads), ever - it was not bad. I don't blame her for being a little nervous, especially given the almost-questionable footing. We will get plenty more chances to practice galloping on much bigger and solid-er fields, so I'm not worried.

Tuesday April 7
I had an awesome schooling ride. I tried McKinna's jumping saddle on her, the much nicer one, and she's built up so much topline that it actually almost fits! So I rode in it.
I set up four cavaletti down the centerline, 4'6" apart, a normal horse-sized trot stride, which tends to challenge her a little. Why? Well, because they're raised a few inches off the ground which makes her take bigger steps, and because she tends to want to be a little short-strided at the trot.
After some warmup, we did a modified four-leaf clover exercise. The arena's too narrow, so we basically went down the centerline, turned right, turned right, turned right, and back down the centerline - like a big oval down at each end. She started off rushing through the cavaletti when she was taking bigger steps to make it through, but by the end she would relax the speed of her stride and get some bouncy air-time between each step. Cool feeling. I need to do this more often.

Wednesday April 8
Day off - relatives in town. They got free-longed.

Thursday April 9
Aaaaaand another day off. They were outside and it was POURING DOWN RAIN. Like it can only in the Northwest, I'm telling you. They were dirty and wet and had a fantastic time tearing loose around the arena. It's been a long time since I've seen them run that fast!

Friday April 10
Woohoo, I had a great ride! Though, as my mom asked when I said this, what else is new?
I set up two sets of cavaletti. Four cavaletti set about 11' apart (canter distance) and on the other side five trot poles (4'6 apart) with alternating ends raised about 6 inches. The canter cavaletti were set at their highest setting, which I think is about a foot high, so they were very challenging.
She was a bit uncoordinated about the raised trot poles, so I will have to reintroduce that slowly. I think I'll start with just raising one at a time. She went over them, though.
The canter cavaletti was magnificent to ride. I will definitely do that exercise again. She nailed them every time, except the time where I told her to add before going over and she didn't. Even that she made it out of fine. I think I will do this exercise again, perhaps set a little closer together - she had to really reach, so while she was forced to expand her stride in all directions (up and forward), she tended to rush through it. Next time if they're set a little closer together, I'm hoping it will help her rock back on her hind end and get some good steady strides in.

Saturday April 11
OMG. The Eventing Derby was SO. MUCH. FUN.

I can't even begin to describe it. I'll write a post over on the main blog in a little while.

Sunday April 12
Family here -- Pandora gave some pony rides. She was very good and patient, if sometimes a little confused :)