Monday, April 17, 2017

Extended Vacation

Stinker got an extended vacation while I was out of town looking at housing/barn/training for work.  Then right before I finally got home I got sick, so he is still on vacation.  And considering nothing is packed and I have to be out of my house next week, it is probably going to continue.

I was in California for a week for work training

On the plus side he did get two rides from S and was actually really well behaved.  That is a huge step for him.  He used to immediately revert back to OMG panicked with anyone new.  Granted S isn't new new, but it has been quite sometime since she has ridden him.  And even longer since she rode him when I wasn't there.

I was super excited to see him.  He wasn't nearly as interested in me

Hopefully, he won't object to the extended time off and we can pick things back up where we left off. I am hoping to do a couple more schooling shows/maybe a trip to my favorite dressage judge's place prior to the move.  Either way I am just hoping to maintain through this fall and keeping my fingers crossed that by then I will have been able to settle into some kind of a routine.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Spoiled Pony

Stinker got acupuncture again yesterday.  And by acupuncture I mean she stuck two needles in his feet and then did moxa over all of the spots she wanted to do needles.  Being sensitive is rough for the Stinker pony.

So hard being sensitive

The vet was pleased with the way his hind end is developing and he was very well behaved.  The first couple of times were rough before she started using the moxa, but since then he has chilled out and enjoys the treatment.  Interestingly enough (maybe only to me) he was more sore on his left hind vs the right hind.  Typically the right, which is weaker, has more soreness.


I am not sure what that means, but I did notice when I rode him yesterday morning that he was more tense to the left and wanted to get quick.  Hopefully, it is just a product of traveling and over compensating with the left and not anything serious.  I have become a big fan on the moxa plus a couple needles in helping to remove some of his tension and get things loose so he can work correctly.

Trot like that and he can have all the body work he wants

One of the down sides of moving is I will have to find new everything:  vet, farrier, saddle fitter, body work person.  It really sucks thinking about it considering it has taken me two years to get everything worked out and I am happy with the people I have.  On the plus side I think I am getting closer to having a living situation worked out for him.  Fingers crossed that he will continue to be the spoiled pony he is.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Metamorphoses: Caffeinated Deer Finds His Inner Horse

This past weekend was the most my favorite dressage judge had seen me trot in awhile.  Typically in our lessons we don't get that far because she is too busy fixing us at the walk.  She rapidly pointed out a couple of major problems I have.  I like to ride with my hands in my lap, I don't know when this habit developed, but it causes me to ride very backwards.

Backwards riding

When my hands get in my lap and I start pulling backwards to maintain contact, we get the above picture.  As my favorite dressage judge said, I need to keep my reins short enough that I always feel like my hands are going forward.  It sounds quite simple, but the reality is Stinker has a very long neck and can retract it to a very short neck very very very rapidly.  I struggle with being quick enough to shorten my reins when his head pops up and then lengthen them again when he stretches out and so on as the cycle continues.  But when I do manage to get things right he looks good.  Like an actual dressage horse.

Dressage horse, when rider remembers to ride

Unfortunately those moments are few and far between right now.  But it is nice to know it is in there and I can find it under saddle.  I have seen it on the lunge line, but getting it when I am riding has been tough.  Hopefully, we can keep maintaining for the next month.  And there might be some promising news on the moving front soon.
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Monday, April 3, 2017

Show Time

This weekend we went to another schooling show.  Two flats and a colic (not Stinker and the horse is doing much better) later we finally made it home.  Minus all of the adventures I was really happy with the show.  We did Intro A again and I had the added bonus of my favorite dressage judge (DJ) was riding her horse at the show.


Friday after we got up there, I had a lesson with DJ and she got after me for being too passive.  Once I was more demanding with my aids he improved so much.  She had us trot some and agreed with me about his right hind.  It is still weak and he struggles with it in the trot, but she had me post on the incorrect diagonal going to the right and that seemed to help quite a bit.  We also talked about my indecision about how to approach things with the trot and his weakness.  She wants me to do short bits of trot regularly and keep up the lunge work I have been doing, because he has been improving and it gives him a chance to think things own without me.


Saturday, I didn't have my ride until the afternoon and I was struggling with my nerves.  Once I got on the main warm up area was quite crowded and there was lots of cantering going on, so we went over to a secondary ring that had been set up for an FEI show previously.  We walked and trotted over there and he was going really nicely.  As it got closer to my ride time, we moved over to the main warm up area which had cleared out a bit and mostly had Intro riders (so no cantering).  He handled warm up quite well.

He did not like his back neighbor

We did have one spook when he realized there were riders out on XC and towards the end he was getting himself worked up a bit.  Next time I think I will cut my warm up a little shorter and see if I can avoid that. I was in the ring that is across the road from stadium.  Last time that resulted in lots of staring in that direction.  He didn't look at stadium at all this time.  He spooked at the judges stand (someone let the door slam right as he was approaching it) so I walked him by it multiple times and they were nice and talked to him.

Blurry picture from the test

The test was about as good as we could put together now.  It was a massive improvement from our first one, but he is still way too tense.  I did put a couple extra circles in to get him back together when he was getting really strung out and I think it helped a lot.  I had to laugh at the end, because the judge asked if I knew that I received an error each time I did an extra circle.  I said, "Yes I know." She looked shocked and said, "Really?"

Pretty blue participation ribbon

I was really pleased with the fact that we got a 7 on our halt.  Standing is not a strong point for him, standing square for 3 seconds is almost impossible for him.  Typically he will pause and then try to creep forward.  I do think he is starting to get the whole show thing.  And as an added bonus he loaded and unloaded really well.  We are not going to be Intro A champions any time soon, but we are making steady progress and he is learning that warm up and the show ring aren't terrifying.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Quarter 2 Goals

I set my goals this year with the possibility of moving in the back of my mind.  Quite honestly the only thing I care about this year is that he doesn't have an EPM relapse from the travel.  I am still formulating a plan on that front, but my vet feels confident that we will be able to minimize the risk.


Just to review my goals for the year are as follows

2017 Year Goals

Stinker
  • Solid WTC (still working on this)
  • Travel new places (I haven't gotten him hauled as much as I wanted, but the last time he was quite well behaved despite all of our misadventures)
  • Schooling shows (I have done as many as I can, but it isn't as many as I was hoping for)
  • Happy and healthy (Despite his typical mishaps we have been doing well)
Human
  • Improve my position (Changing my stirrups helped a lot, but I still need to keep my leg under me more)
  • Get my stress shopping under control (Realizing that you are moving to a place where housing costs 3x as much caused me to replace it with stress eating)
  • Improve my fitness (Ummmm unless you count lifting french fries to my mouth as fitness not so much)


Quarter 1 Goals

Stinker
  • Keep up the steady progress (He has been pretty steady.  I have not, but sometimes you have to adult)
  • Focus on the trot (This has been very hit and miss because I bounce back and forth between yes we need to trot and no he needs more strength)
  • Keep doing ground poles (This has happened about once a week)
  • Keep working on breaking up the tension (This has also happened and he is slowly becoming more rideable)
Human

I apparently thought that I needed to essentially repeat my year goals, which based on my progress I was not incorrect.  Whoops!  Here is to next quarter


Quarter 2 Goals

Stinker
  • Maintain as much as possible despite having a nutty human
  • Keep him happy and healthy
Human
  • Sanity (I have to be out of my house next month and don't move for another two months after that)
That is about all we can handle this quarter.  Hopefully, there will be big news on the moving front in the next couple of months.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hide-and-Seek

Fairly frequently I have to find my horse in the pasture in the dark. His buddy is a paint, so he is fairly easy to spot. Right now Stinker's socks are very dirty so it is harder to find him. He lives in the dressage pasture which is the smallest one, but it is still large enough that it could easily hold three large dressage rings with room to spare.


The other evening I promptly found his buddy but there was no Stinker in sight. So I walked over to the trees along the fence line where he likes to sleep. He wasn't there, so I started walking around the pasture and by the time I made a lap I was starting to get nervous. Typically he is easy to find or he comes up to me.

You looking for me?

Finally I turned around and he was following along behind me. I hadn't heard him and I have no idea how long he was following along behind me while I grew increasingly worried about where he was. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Grounded

I have grounded (mostly) myself from riding.  I realized that my stress levels are just too high and it is making my horse nuts.  So our new approach is I am going to try to walk him for 15 minutes as a warm and to get him loose.  If at any point he starts feeding off me and getting anxious I will hop off and lunge him.

He still needs to tuck his belly and release the under neck, but I like this shot

Then to finish things off, I plan on popping him on the lunge line and doing work with transitions.  So far it has been interesting to see.  I filmed one down transition where he totally flopped from the canter into the trot.  I found it interesting that when he popped his head straight up in the air he finally stepped up underneath himself.  I am still puzzling over how what I am noticing on the lunge translates into what I need to do to get his body working correctly.