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).