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.