Monday, January 31, 2011

I Thought Holidays Were Relaxing!

I was wrong.  My last exam ended Thursday morning, and instead of gettign the nice relaxing weekend I'd been hoping for, I got a family Christmas get-together!  Fun, but hectic, busy, and occasionally chaotic ;)  Anyhow onto the riding part.
Thursday: Went to the barn to free lunge Cadence.  She was awesome, so at the end I unhooked her, and we walked back towards the arena gate together.  I realized I'd forgotten the lunge whip, so I headed back over and picked it up.  This happened to coincide with my dad arriving at the barn, so the resulting incident could have occurred for a number of reasons.  Cadence perked her ears foreward, and started to trot.  That lasted for aobut three strides, before she took off bucking and tearing around the arena.  This continued for about five solid minutes, with her never slowing down.  I was so worried about her getting hurt, but she looked like she was having the time of her life!  After I FINALLY caught her, she went back on the lunge till she was responding nicely, and not tearing around the arena.
Also rode Bailey.  Cantered him for the first time in a while.  It was fun to concentrate a little more on my position, and to ride in a dressage saddle!  I really do enjoy dressage, and have missed the comfort of long stirrups ;)

Friday: Lesson.  Cadence was good, much more even.  Barb commented a while back that Cadence looked like she had a bit of power, and I got my first real taste of that.  As she evened out, she's been putting on muscle, and she was anxious to show it off! Family arrived Friday, and I was up late.  Bad idea, since I had a 9:00 lesson the next morning.

Saturday:  Cadence was fantastic!  She did her first gymnastic which was through two cross rails set up between a set of stools and two barrels.  What a brave mare!
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So after riding Cadence I went to ride Majik, the little Morgan mare.  I was so impressed with her!  She was clearly not too pleased about my asking her to work, but she really strutted her stuff for me!  Aside from constantly going behind the bit (a habit I hate) she was phenomenal.  She had a lot more training on her than I expected.  I later found out she'd been trained to second level dressage, but her owner (probably not knowing what that meant) failed to mention that to me.  Anyhow, long story short I had a riot on her.  Tehehe, she had the oddest feeling caner though.  It felt so odd after Cadence's large powerful canter!

Sunday:  Went to ride Bailey.  It was freezing, but I was still riding around with nothing more than a shirt and one measly little sweater on.  That said, I tacked up in clothing suitable for antarctic travel.

Monday: Rode Cadence again today.  She was ready to rumble in the canter, and down right pissed that I wouldn't let her.  That mare's really got some power in her when she wants to.  When she throws her head up, she goes all springy-and-bouncey-on-the-spotey.  You can tell she's starting to power up.  Now that she's much evener, I've been able to start bending her to the left a bit.  She feels so fantastic when she gets going nicely, she really is a joy to ride.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Two Down, Two To Go

I have a new acronym for myself : MLIC (My Life Is Crazy)  None of this average stuff for me.  Today I:

-Went to school at 9 for a music theory exam
-Left at 10:30 to go to the barn
-Lunged Cadence (She was alright, but fall in a bit)
-Hopped on Cadence and worked in the walk and trot.  Her boyfriend, Bronx was in the ring so she was a bit distracted, but awesome all around.  Her constant left bend is all but gone!
-Left the barn at 12:30 to head back to school
-grabbed a slice of pizza on the way
-Played my flute exam at 1:35
-Left school (again) at 1:55
-Came home to study.  I still haven't gotten to the study part yet...
During the next week I have:
-A lesson (on Cadence) and an exam tomorrow
-An exam Thursday, and hopefully I'll lunge Cadence and ride Arty.  Thursday's my last exam
-A lesson Friday (on Cadence)
-Ride Cadence and Arty Saturday

-Ride Magik Saturday.  A lady from Arty's barn is going away for a few days, and wanted me to exercise and love her 7 y/o morgan cross who was backed and trained english and then left out in a field for two years.  Her rider's ridden western her whole life, and is sort of out of depths with this whole English thing.   She's the mare in the pictures.  She's stubborn and egotistical (in my opinion) and her mom spoils her a bit, but she has the basics and was started really well (backed and trained by Elaine Ward).
-On top of that, I still don't know when I'm supposed to be riding Bales.  Ah well, I'll get around to it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

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So as you can see, the previous video didn't load.  Here's a shorter clip from the video, and a fuzzy pony picture!

Big Boy Bits

1) Arty got a new bit!  Its his first bit that isn't made entirely of rubber, coated in rubber, or has anything to do with rubber whatsoever.  He's now got a (very thick) four and a half french link Dee ring.  I intended to ride him in it today, but it was waaay too cold to be fiddling with a bit at the barn, so I brought his bridle home.  I can fiddle in the warmth of a heated building, instead of the freezing coldness that is the barn.

2)  Cadence is amazing.  In three lunge sessions, she has all of her verbal walk trot and canter commands down, for both upwards and downwards transitions.  The only thing she's sorely lacking in is halt.  She really doesn't like that one ;)  I'm also extremely happy with how balanced she is now!  Seriously, you can change directions at the trot without feeling like she's pacing one direction and trotting the other.  You still need to ask for some right bend all the time to keep her even at the trot, and her right canter's a bit rushy but she's coming along so nicely!  I love working with young horses. She was also great with the draws on today, though I have to admit I think she goes better without them.  I cringe to see my position in this video.  I've got to get rid of that chair seat.  I find that Bailey's dressage saddle is the worst for positioning me, but Cadence's jumping saddle isn't great either.  I try to work through it, but I was so concentrated on "right rein, sit in the saddle.  Right rein, sit in the saddle."  Unfortunately, you're seeing her only misbehaving moment in this video, but the rest of the videos are of the inside a pocket.  All of our jumping was missed!  :'(  Ah well.  Her trot poles are better, and when we jumped the oxer she cleared it and the canter pole in front of it  : D  The best part?  I would never have guessed. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lessons (and a movie reccomendation)

My goodness am I ever exhausted!  Who knew doing nothing could be so taxing?  I just got home from the theater.  I went to see The King's Speech, and man was it ever amazing!  Honestly, should you wish to go see a movie, go see that one.  Helena Bonham Carter was fantastic!  Honest to god, she played the role so well you would never guess the same actress played Bellatrix Lestrange, or Mrs. Lovett.
In regards to riding, I had a lunge lesson on Thursday.  I was very pleased about that, as it afforded me the opportunity to work on a skill that really needed improvement.  I'm very pleased that Cadence's ground manners have been improving.  She no longer barges into people, she stands when you bridle her, and she listens (fir a minute or two) when you reprimand her for grinding her feet.  She's still very antsy in the cross ties, a fact that is emphasized by the fact that all the other boarders in the barn ground tie their horses.  Not fair!  Today when I rode her, and I was so happy with the results.  I can really feel her improving, & she's much more balanced.  I've got a lesson tomorrow, so I'll try to take some pictures.  I should probably appologize for the poor post quality, but my brain has been turned to mush.  Ughh, I hate studying.  I can't wait till exams are over!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bailey Update

Bailey's been back under saddle for about a week now, and I've just been so busy (exams next week!) I havn't had a chance to update.  Anyhow, I rode him for the first time in a long time on Tuesday, and happened to get a quick video of us stretching in the warm-up.  He's still not cantering, but the vet says he'll be better than new by the time February rolls around.
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On the Cadence side of things, I've got a lesson on the mare tonight.  We'll see how it goes!  Hopefully she's more willing than on Sunday.  Did I remember to post about that ride?  I don't even know.  Back to studying!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Thanks OnTheBit for the Stylish Blogger Award!
http://onthebit.wordpress.com/


There are 4 duties to perform to receive this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!

7 things about myself:
1) When I really like something, or get excited about something I obsess.  No, I REALLY obsess.  I spend hours reading and researching, I devote a lot of time and thought into planning and contemplating, and most irritatingly to those around me, I talk about it.  I was told by one of my friends today that I need to get some new hobbies, because she's tired of hearing about my current ones.  Sorry Megan, but I like mine just fine!

2) I love music, specifically 70's rock.  The Runaways are my all time favourite band, but I also love Bowie and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts. However, I really listen to a lot of everything.  Its very dependent on my mood.  I really enjoy finding little known Canadian bands, and doing my best to give them a shout out.  Speaking of which, if you like pop-type rock, check out The Playdates, formerly 16th Avenue.  I also play a few different instruments, but I prefer listening to music over playing it.

3) I love baking.  I like cooking as well, but I prefer baking.  I think this one was inspired by my current craving for whipped shortbread.  Yummm....  I do love store bought cookies though.  From childhood I was raised on home made cookies, so those sugary icing filled things you see in the store always fascinate me! 

4) I've always thought it would be fun to try barrel racing.  I never have, and I don't have a horse who knows how to, or a coach to teach me, but one day I will try that.  I also think it would be fun to go on a cattle round up.  Ah well... more things to add to that 'One Day' list.

5)I'd really like to own and run a barn.  Over the summer I house/barn sat for the lady who owns Arty, and the barn he's at.  I had so much fun, despite the fact mucking out stalls in 95 degree heat really sucks.  I prefer barn work to housework, and I love caring for the animals.  Lugging water out to all of the troughs may have hurt my back, but on the plus side I got to keep a constant eye on my pony.  This one sort of goes along with the last, but its more of an 'If Only' than 'One Day'

6) I'm very distractible, have a terrible short term memory, and tend to be rather energetic.  Riding affords me a chance to concentrate, and holds my attention for long periods of time.  I think its because I'm constantly working on something; my mind is always busy when I ride.  However, when I do concentrate on something, I go off into my own little world.

7) I had a very hard time writing this.  I don't know what it was, but I found it difficult to find 7 things to say about myself. I probably ended up sounding half crazed and narcissistic, or half crazed and dead boring.  I'm probably not helping that right now, so I think I'll just shut up. 

Passing on the Glory
This part was easy.  I haven't been reading anybody's blog for very long, so they're all new and exciting to me.  Here's my list:

1) The Trotting Post
2) Miles on Miles
3) Dapple of My Eye
4) My Michigan Riding
5) Standardbred Excellence
6) Book Reader Anonymous
7) Wet Reins
8) On Horses and Boys... And Everything In Between
9) The Many Misadventures
10) A Good Horse
11) On Track for A CCI1*
12) Song of the Black Horse: A Student's Notes
13) Equine Insanity
14) How Did This Happen?
15) Nina's Story (I know, I cheated.  Barb and Nina have already gotten this award, but I couldn't leave my favourite blog off the list, could I?)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Happy Place...

Is usually at the barn, but recently seems to have been in my bed.  Anyhow, I stuck with my goal and had a fantastic ride on Cadence.  We jumped for the first time in forever, and she was great.  Didn't over jump like crazy, (she WAY over jumps things when you free lunge her) but she was also calm!  I was really surprised, considering how badly she wanted to go when we were cantering.  I think she really really enjoys it though, so she was probably happy just to be jumping again.  I don't have any pictures or videos, and to be honest, I'm glad.  It was the first time I'd jumped in ages, and I could feel my form sucking majorly.  I think I would have died of embarrassment had I seen any videos.  Since I'm busy trying not to finish a french paper, I'll write a little play by play of our jumping:
We started off with some trot poles, which she consistently hit, due to her desire to extend through them. 
Then we progressed to an X made using two barrels set on their sides.  The Barn she's at doesn't have any standards... but the barrels work.
We did the x twice, and she was great.  There were ground poles on either side, and I think she was more concerned with those.  She's got a thing with poles ;)
Next we set up a vertical.  Trotted this once, then cantered it three times in a row!  Go mare!  On the third and fourth jump, we really hit our stride together.  She's got a very scopey jump, and a huge jump in her hind end.  It took me a minute to feel my way around it.
Next we set up an oxer, square wit the poles spread out as far as they'd go.  The first time we did this, she got a bad distance, but made it nicely over the jump.  Afterwards, we came back to a trot, and she stopped, trew her head down, snorted, and wouldn't move.  I kicked her several times, and she totally ignored me!  So then, I opened my left rein, and she turned and walked on, incident forgotten ;)  I love how easy it is to trick a green horse.
Next time we went to the oxer, she jumped it beautifully but big!  It surprised me a bit, but I stayed with her  and that was my sole goal, I was satisfied.  The best part of the ride came at the end though.  We agreed to have Cadence stay for 10 more days, so I could take her for a test run.  I hope to get some pics tomorrow, and maybe some better videos.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Resurfacing

I am slowly resurfacing from the wave of sickness that has pulled me under in recent days.   I thought yesterday would be my last day in bed, as I was feeling much better, but apparently I overexerted myself, so today I was back in bed.  I've now missed every single day I was supposed to ride Cadence, Monday because of my coach's back, and Wednesday and Today (Friday) because I'm stuck in bed.

On a more positive note, I will ride Cadence tomorrow.  I may regret it afterwords, as I've lost absolutely all of my muscle mass since I've been sick, (seriously. I can barely walk up the stairs, and get tired walking from one room to the next) but I'll do absolutely everything in my power to get myself to the barn tomorrow. 
On a less positive note, it feels like ages since I've seen The Pony (in reality, I saw Arty on Monday) and it has been ages since I've ridden him.  Last time I rode him was on new years eve.  When I went out to see him Monday, he was all alone in the grassy part of the field.  His pasture buddy, Clarence, was chatting over the fence with the TB's in the field next door, but Arty had his priorities: eat now, socialize... never.  Arty happily walked up to me, and after searching my pockets (and munching on the mints he retrieved) followed me over to the gate.  Actually, he got distracted right before the gate by a pile of hay, but that's not the point.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sick and Sore

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I don’t know if I remembered to mention it, but before I rode Z, we free lunged her for a minute.  Now one of the hazards to riding and competing is injury.  At one point, my coach stomped her foot, and it triggered an old back injury.  I felt terrible for her, because she was clearly in a lot of pain, and it didn’t look like a quick fix.  Anyhow, yesterday she had to cancel our ride, as she was getting x-rays in the emerge.  It turned out to not be a terrible thing, as I myself was sick.  I slept most of the night last night, and tried to ignore my sore throat and cough.  Unfortunately, it didn’t want to ignore me.  I’m still sick, but it better go away soon.  I CAN’T be sick for exams!  Oh well, we’ll see how things go for Wednesday.  Fingers crossed I’ll be better. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Running the risk of sounding like a broken record...

I hate winter.  Brrrr, its cold cold cold cold cold out, and since I’m a huge wimp, I think I should complain about it again.   Our high for today 8.6degrees Fahrenheit, without the wind chill.  I’m heading straight for the barn *shiver* from school today, so all of my barn clothes came with me to school.  I had a total of five bags to cart to the car, plus one very bulky ski jacket.  I had them all in my hands, I somehow managed to get out the door, and I turned around to lock it.  My keys were in my pocket, but I had my left hand free and the key was in my right pocket.  Intelligent, I know!  Since I was too stubborn to set down all the bags I’d just picked up, it took me a while to fish out my key.  When I finally did manage to grab the key, I promptly dropped it.  Naturally.  Once the house was finally locked, I slipped and slid my way all the way to the car, barely avoiding landing on my butt more than once.  Grrrr, evil weather.  It is pretty though!
On a completely different note, last night I went out to exercise Bailey.  I hand walked him around the arena a total of thirty times, going over the cavalettis 10x at half height in each direction and 5x at full height, each direction.  I almost hate to admit it, but it was quite fun.  I really do enjoy spending time with the furry critters, even if it’s not on their backs.  That said, I’m not about to give up riding completely in order to become a human hot walker.  And while we’re on the subject of riding, tonight I’m off to ride Cadence again.  I think I’d be a lot more excited if I weren’t quite so exhausted.  Ughhh… I hate school.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eventful Day

Wow, its amazing how long it takes to gain muscle, and how quickly you lose it!  Amazing, and wholly unfair.  I know some types gain muscle as easy as 1 2 3, but not me.  Anyhow, there is a point to my rambling and complaining.  Today I headed out to the barn to meet (and ride) for the first time the little 5y/o mare that my coach had been raving about for quite some time.  I say little, when in truth Cadence is a sturdy 16.1h mare. 
Anyhow, she's got the most beautiful colouring.  She looks a little redder than she is in the picture, but you get the point.  She's got a tiny splotch of white on the inside of her front left, like a half coronet band, and a star but thats it.  She's also exactly my type of horse to ride.  Forward, but extremely soft.  NO leg necessary for upwards transitions; cluck, and she's off.  She is very green as of current, and very right handed, but apparently she's improved quite a bit in the four days she's been down here.  So from what I hear, its mostly just muscling. My only conformation fear is that she looks a little narrow from behind.  I don't think its much, and I didn't even notice till I looked at this picture, so mabe it was just a one time thing, but I'll give it another look.  Its tiny and very minor, but better safe than sorry, eh?
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The first video is a quick one of my coach riding her, going in her bad direction.  Then after that, next up was me.  Now, Arty's very foreward, but not overly sensitive to downward aids.  Upward, he's light as a feather, but ask him to slow and its like lalalalala.  Bailey's not slow, but not forward or overly sensitive either.  Oh, and Z (my coach's little dressage mare) is lazy.  Awesome and fun, but lazy.  I'll get to that later though.  So getting used to Cadence was a little tricky for me.  Plus maybe I'm just underestimating myself, but I sort of felt rather out of place on her back.  I felt like I was constantly going to disappointing someone, or do something wrong, or ruin this lovely little mare.  I don't have low self esteem, but apparently that changes when I ride. On another note, I figured out how to edit my videos, so the next one is a short one since the last one took far too long to upload.  I think (so long as I upload the right one) that this should be the first time I trot her.  Either that, or a clip of us cantering in her bad direction.

Anyhow, before I mentioned something about Z.  So after Cadence was done, it was Z's turn.  The objective being to let me see Cadence, but have a lesson on Z.   I was honoured that Lynda (my coach) let me on her again, seeing as I'm the only other person that's been on her back.  She was so much better this week.  Lynda's gradually increasing her work load, so this was her fifth ride this week, and she wasn't overly pleased.  Unfortunately, as her responses were a little lackluster I had to put all my effort into getting her more responsive.  This is where the part about me losing muscle comes in.  She was amazing though, such a gorgeous horse!
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Anyhow, my coach wants me to try to ride Cadence a few more times this week before she leaves on Friday, so I'll be out to see her again Monday.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Nothing New...

Oh the joys of winter.  Okay, I lied.  I haven't had a chance to ride since my lesson on Friday, and I don't know if I will have a chance to ride until my lesson on Saturday.  I am feeling terrible, because all of the progress Arty's been making seems to be getting buried under the snow; I just hope I can fund it again in the spring!   On the plus, tomorrow I'm heading out to see Bailey.  He has his back adjustments with the vet, so I thought that'd be a good time to pop in.  Here's hoping all goes well!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Trailer Buddy

I headed out to the barn today with the intention of giving Arty a good grooming, and working a little on keeping him on the bit during our transitions (and in general).  My friend told me that all the horses were filthy, and totally black with mud, so I made sure to set aside a little extra time for grooming.  It was freezing cold 20 degrees (-5 Celsius), especially after the crazy warm 44 degree Fahrenheit (7 Celsius) weather we had Saturday.  Once I'd gotten Arty in from the field, I was frozen solid and pretty much ready to call it a day.  I had no desire to endure the 10 minute treck to the neighbour's field, before we could even start working.  Plus, that's not even guaranteeing good footing once your there.  Oh winter, why do you torment me so?  Anyhow, I got my half black and half white pony into the cross ties and started working on him.  Another lady from the barn was attempting to load her horse in order to ship him off for some more training.  She came into the barn looking for feed, in an attempt to coax Polaris, her horse, onto the trailer so I thought I'd offer to load up Arty so Polaris realized the trailer wouldn't eat him.  She said that'd be great, and asked if I'd bring him right out, so thats what I did.
Arty'd never loaded onto a big fancy trailer with a ramp, so he took a tentative step onto the trailer.  He looked up at me nervously, but all it took was a rattle of the feed bucket and a gentle tug on the lead and he loaded up perfectly!  What an awesome little pony :)  He stayed on there for a while, but eventually they decided to move the trailer onto the grass to see if that'd help Polaris load, so we unloaded Arty via the side ramp, another new experience. Perfect again!
We headed into the arena, and lunged at a walk (all you could do) while the trailer was re-parked.  Then we walked back over to the trailer, and loaded up without a backwards glance.  Arty just sat on the trailer for about an hour and a half, happily munching away on hay and the occasional handful of feed he was offered. There goes his diet!  Oh well, he was better than I could ever have imagined, and when after over two hours of work, they finally gave up Arty was almost disapointed that he had to get off.  This however, is where the funny part comes in.  The trailer we use is a tiny two horse bumper pull, step up.  Unfortunately the ramp off the side of the trailer was being blocked by the chicken coop, so we had to back Arty down the ramp.  He took about two steps backwards, then started to crouch and feel around for the drop.  He started to get nervous, so I let him look around to the side so he could see the ramp.  Instead, he completed the turn, and walked forwards off the ramp!  He was tiny enough to just do a 180 and unoad that way!  It was probably the most hilarious thing he's ever done.  By the time all was said and done though, all I had time to do was finish grooming and turn him back out though.  Ah well, it was well worth not being able to ride to show off Arty's pro trailering skills ;)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome to 2011!

Happy new year everyone!   2011 started off with a pop for me... one of my eight blisters popping to be exact.  Yes, It was so warm here yesterday I decided to forgo my nice warm riding gloves, and I paid dearly for that misteak.  With eight blisters to be exact.  Don't think I'll be making that misteak again any time soon.
Anyhow, I did make a new years resolution last night. My new years resolution.... drum roll please.... is to drink more water.  Odd, I know.  I did write out a nice long boring explanation as to why I did that, but I got bored writing it so I doubt anyone wants to read it.
Okay, weird resolutions aside I do have some goals for 2011. 
1) Ride in at least one sanctioned horse trial.  Hopefully more, but we'll stick with one for now.
2) Ride in one dressage show.
3) Get 4 out of 10 rider levels.  I'm not overly concerned about these, hence why I've yet to get any, but I'd like to get them eventually.
4) My secret goal is to have a horse of my own horse by the end of 2011.  While I don't mind part boarding my boys, I do long for a horse that I can truly call my own.  We'll see about this one, but I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and let come what may.
5) My final goal for 2011 is to keep this blog going until 2012!