Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Show... (Happy Canada Day)

NOOOOOOOO!!!!! I just spent way too long writing a post only to accidentally delete it.  Wow, my luck sucks.  Happy Canada day! As it's past 12am here it counts.
Okey, where to begin.  I'm stressed to the max due to an impending horse show, an impending camping trip (in which my friend (who is currently on vacation in Florida and not home to help me) and I take a group of our friends canoeing in Algonquin Park for a week), and a whack load of family get togetherness which I really don't have time for.  However, if I stay, family comes to me.  If I go, family comes to me.  They're unavoidable.  My other major stress is the fact that my last two rides on Cadence have been less than stellar.  Fun fun fun with a horse show on Wed. 3 rides left till the show!

I think it'd be best to start by explaining my previous two rides.  Wednesday, Cadence and I did our dressage work as planned.  Great walk/trot, okay canter, sucky work after the canter.  She was tense, and had that 'if you loosten your reins I'm going to shoot off like a rocket' feeling.  Not good.  I couldn't get her to relax into that nice rhythm and frame we had before.  Not totally working over her back, but on the contact and we were starting to get some beautiful I'm-using-my-whole-body-properly-ish stuff at the start of the ride.  I caught my self thinking 'if only I could stick draws or a martingale on her we could get through this so much faster' and 'If I could just get her to keep this fake frame during our test on Wed, we should still score pretty well on everything but submission'.  Bad Katie!  That bothers me because that's totally not who I am and that's totally against my values/what I believe in.  I hate artificial aids, and try to avoid them at all costs, and this show is not a big deal whatsoever.  She can go and bomb the test, it is all just to see where she's at and to have a fun learning experience.  Naturally I want to do well, and I know she won't be perfect, but sticking her in a frame to get marks?  That's SO against what I believe in; I felt sick.
Our ride today didn't improve my spirits.  Our warm up was fantastic.  Her woah-waits (balancing back... like you do before an XC fence) are fantastic.  I try to do as much of our jumping warm up as possible in a 2point to improve my muscle strength, and all I have to do is sit down and she balances back and slows.  I go up, and out she goes!  In both the trot and the canter, she has it 100%.  However, the actual jumping part sucked.  I wanted to elabourate on Monday's ride and take what we did up a notch.  Our goal was simple: two cross rails on a circle.  Canter a circle with the jumps.  She threw me for a loop when she refused our second warm up fence.  Not good.  I was also getting left behind left right and center.  I'd concentrate on keeping her calm and slow, then she'd get sticky, then I'd have to push a bit and she'd take all these wierd long spots and I'd end up catching her in the mouth.  Poor mare :(  She was better from the canter, but displaying the same behaviour as yesterday only after the jump instead of after the canter.  We did get through the excercise, and then I threw her off by demanding dressage-ness when we came back from the canter.  It only took a couple of minutes and then I got it!  Yay!!! not ALL hope is lost.

I think the worst part of all is that my coach is on vacation till Sat, so I can't use her to get me out of this rut.  I have to do it all by myself, without utilizing the awesomeness that is a riding coach with a sports psyche degree and a whack load of experience.  Generally I'd just email her and set up a lesson/ask for advice, but I've already bugged her once and I am determined to let her enjoy her one week of summer vacation.
Overall, I'm just stressed, worried, disappointed with myself, not at all self confident, and sort of discouraged.  Cadence has tomorrow off, so hopefully I can go play some ground games with her.  Providing I have time, that is.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mini Unplanned Vacation

This post was written Monday night... sorry for the posting delay. (among other things)

I ought to appologise for dissapearing off of the face of the earth.  I didn't in fact die, I just took an unplanned vacation.  My family was supposed to come up for a visit from the states, but they had to cancel, so I went to them.  Very generous of me, I know.  Anyhow, as much as I'm sure y'all want to know every last detail of my life... I'll stick to the horses ;)
The Mare has been fantastic.  We are officially  in prep mode for her first combined training which is (drum roll please...) next Wednesday!  After which I will take a planned vacation.  It works out pretty well, since we have the show, and the next morning I leave to take a couple of friends up to Algonquin Park for a canoeing trip.  So, Cadence will get the next four days off.  Our show plan for the summer has been shifted a bit.  Due to the Mare's awesome progress, we're doing this CT show at Equus (at pre-entry (like pre-beginner novice)) going for one more cross country school, and then doing PE (pre-entry) at Equus on july 27th.  Hopefully after that, providing all goes well, we'll do two or three beginner novice (Entry in Canada) events, and maybe try a PT event before the season is out.  At least, that's what the long term plan is looking like right now.  My coach has this crazy idea that we'll be schooling Training next summer.  We'll see...
Cadence's work has been fantastic recently.  Her canter is finally coming together.  transitions into and out of canter still need work, but the quality of the actual canter is getting better.  Funnily enough, so is the trot work after :P  Amazing how that works!  She still gets all worked up and doesn't want to give, but she is improving.  Also, I'm pleased to say that as of today her jumping is really coming along as well.  Well, her actual jump's always been fine, but we can consistently get the proper lead after fences, we can not rush into fences, and we can... that's a bit of a lie. She still likes to rush after.  However, it's nothing major.  Plus I can't wait to take her XC again.  Her overall responsiveness and comprehension of my aids in regards to jumping has improved tremendously!  Today we were working on balancing her trot and canter back.  I'll go into a two point, and the second I sit down, she starts to balance back and package herself up.  Up I go, and she's off like a rocket.  Sometimes the ups are a bit too enthusiastic, but it's a matter of rewarding the behaviour and keeping the enthusiasm while not getting too quick and free.  Either way, we're more than ready for 2'6 pre-entry fences.  I'm pretty sure I could just point her at them and she'd figure her way around the course... lets not try that though.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Past Three Rides

Saturday: My coach was at a show all weekend (great results, all 1st and 2nd) so we didn't get a lesson :'(  Too bad, but we had a much better ride!  Only minor pissy mare stuff.  I desided to essentially ignore the post-canter trot work.  We'll focus more on the trot once the canter is all there.  Her right canter was quite good.  Relatively balanced, on the contact for parts of it, and bending a bit.  No rushiness either.  Her left was a bit better.  Gnawing and gnashing of teeth if any attempt to keep her on the contact was made, but she was more balanced and not quite as rushy as the previous ride.  We went straight to walk from the canter.... other way around.  Straight from Canter to walk, which is what we were doign before.  Then she backs off after the canter and she can be pushed foreward into a nice trot.  This takes time though, and it sort of sucks to re-do since she was fine with it.  Baby steps, baby steps.  Under 1/2h.
 From March, I believe
Sunday: Started off with a hack w some other horses for the first time.  Went intothe forest past the evil wood pile (not on te first attempt, but we made it) and walked calmly past some other evil wood piles.  We then went into the arena for some w/t/c.  Actually, we went into the round pen and spiraled in and out on a circle at the trot, then moved to the arena.  Much better ride!  Sat was good, but Sun was great.  Some frame and balance (and a lot less rush) for the left lead canter!  Yay!!!
Monday: off
Tuesday:  Great ride today!  Controlled canter with (inconsistent) frame/on the contact.  Bending both directions, and no real rushing down the long sides.  Nice and soft and light in her trot work, something that had been amiss for the previous rides.  Alright trot post-canter, not truly on the contact/working over her back.  Good freewalk, and OK trot stretch.  Too rushy, and not enough stretch IMO.  Went for a hack past the scary wood pile (s) which she HATED.  Eventually got her past it.  Got off and walked her up to the biggest one.  She wasnervous, but followed me willingly without hesitation.  We went into the indoor and worked on some tests.  Pissy after the canter, so we did some canter transitions.  Really good up ones, and pretty good down.  I was happy, so we called it quits.  The test itself sucked, but the work after was good.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What a week

Well, my last day of classes was today.  The end of the school year tends to be one of those things that comes up way too quickly, but not soon enough.  After writing three tests & handing in two projects and one culminating, my last day was eventful at the very least.  One of these days I'll learn not to leave things to the last minute.  Then again, I've been saying that since like grade 6... probably before then.  Whatever, what's done is done.  Only finals left!  On the riding front, we had a fun week.  Monday cadence got a pedicure, tuesday we rode bareback, and wednesday we dressaged.  The bareback ride was fun and productive.  It was good because my fear of slipping off the side combined with her bony whithers made me insist on a nice slow trot.  She's got enough natural movement in the trot (even when she isn't using her bum) that rhythm really counts!  we kept to w/t, and mostly worked on straightness and keeping her on the contact @ all times.  She's normally fantastic about that, but she wasn't too keen on the whole slow and steady trot thing.  The other thing we worked on was keeping her on the contact in our free walk.  Sometimes she's a bit laxckadaisical about this, so it was good practice.  Our free walks are gonna be rockin by the next show!  The other thing that came out of the ride is that I realized she's still a teeny weeny bit bent to the left when we're going to the right.  She's so much better than when I got her sometimes it's hard to fix the leetle things like that, because she's really straight compared to what she used to be.  Make sense?
Our wednesday ride could have gone better.  My plan was to essentially elabourate on Tuesday's ride.  On the contact in the stretch in the trot, straight in the w/t/canter, and soft at the halt.  Our ride started out fantastically.  We even got some half decent stretching in the trot.  Our training level dressage tests all have a trot stretch.  I personally think it's a silly movement and it should be removed.  If Cadence improves, I may change that opinion, but for now it stays.  We had a great canter right, came back to trot, picked it up again, came back down.  The plan was to canter left and quit, but somewhere between the end of our second right canter and the end of our left canter something flipped.  My beautiful mare went bye bye and a grabby, heavy in the hand, pushy-pully, stiff nightmare replaced her.  I tried everything... stretching, transitions, woah-waits (slow down, release, return to working trot/canter), and just letting her relax.  I don't believe in just letting a horse 'get it out of their system' when they have a rider on their back.  In my experience, it rarely works and is often quite counter productive, so I skipped that method.  At one point I loostened my reins a bit and was just letting cadence trot around in something resembling an angry tense stretch when she cantered off on me.  We were going to the left and she picked up her right lead, neatly swapped it, and continued on her way.  In truth, it was a gallop not a canter, but canter sounds better.  I've never had her do this, and she would NOT stop.  I let her go, I pulled her back, I circled her, I changed directions, she barged on.  Naughty mare.  We resumed work once she  decided to return and she was no different than before, so once I got the teeniest bit of give she was finished. 
All in all, the ride wasn't that bad (save the one episode) in general, just bad compared to the level of work I've come to expect from her and from the awesomeness I had at the beginning of the ride.  She got yesterday off, and is having a lunge session with our BO tonight.  Tomorrow, I reasess.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Just in case anyone missed it, congratulations to Peter Atkins who after this whole long and tiring ordeal gets Henny back where he belongs.  I fell in love with that pony when I first saw him at Rolex because of his ears.  Pathetic reason to like a horse, I know.  I'm just so happy he's with Peter now. I really shouldn't be blogging... there's a french film critique that ain't gonna write itself.  Too bad though....

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cross Country and Lessons

Alright. My appologies for the length of time in between updates.  I'm in my last week of classes, and next week's finals.  Gotta love school.  We also have the joys of ending a lot later than everybody else.  Only a week left.  Actually, that's a pretty terrifying thought... there's a lot of work to get done in that week. 
Anyhow, on to the cross country/cc/xc/x-country.  You get the point.  When we got off of the trailer, Cadence was hilarious.  She wouldn't go near anything.  Like nowhere near anything.  She'd go shooting sideways across the field, realize that we were approaching another fence from the other side and go back again.  It was pretty funny.  A little discouraging, but what can you do. 
By following some of the other horses around (There was the 6y/o mare (Beans) that we trailered with, an awesome draft cross (Jake) looking to upgrade to prelim, and a cute little bay (Can't remember...) going pre-training/training)  we managed to warm up relatively well.  We sort of partnered off into pairs, me and the younger mare and the two old boys.  The boys worked over a couple of warmup fences, and then it was our turn.  I'd been attempting to get Cadence near one little 2'3 log and a tiny 2'3 pile of 3 telephone posts, to limited levels of success.  They were pretty close to each other, maybe two strides in between, and we'd managed to make it in between the two but that was about as close as we'd gotten.  Beans hopped over the pile and the log with a lead from Jake (She'd been xc once the previous year) and then popped over a couple of times all by herself.  Then, Cadence and I snugged up to Bean's butt and we followed her up to the log pile.  A couple of strides away, I felt her gretting that wiggly unsureness, and put a bit of preassure on.  I don't think Cadence really realized what she was doing until she was half way over hte fence :P  It sort of goes unsaid that she waaaay over jumped and cleared it by a mile and a half, but I'll add it in anyways. 
We followed Beanie over it again, essentially repeating the previous attempt. That's when I think it all sort of clicked with her.  Ohh!  We go OVER them!  Wow, this is sort of fun....
We went over the log then behind bean, and tried them both on our own.  She was so funny.  She didn't rush any of them, until we were over.  Stopping her afterwards required some work, but she was never out of control.  Just energetic.  We then moved on to a cord of wood, one of the ones with like an entry (Beginner novice) fence on the right and a prelim on the left kind of thing.  Apparently we ended up jumping the prelim one, but she was jumping high enough it didn't really make much of a difference.  Man can that little mare fly!  She's got one hell of a jump in her hind end.  Cadence and Bean took a break then to let the big boys school over a pretty intimidating looking Irish bank.  Jake was such a cool customer!  He handled everything like such a pro, and was a real superstar. 
On the way out of our first field and onto the next (this place was AMAZING! They had such a fantastic property and we barely touched the surface) we popped over a tiny ditch, just to try it.  Cadence couldn't have cared less.  I think she handled the ditch better than anything else... she was so relaxed with it.  We also put together a 4 jump course of never before seen fences with some new styles of fences thrown in and she couldn't have cared less.  She was like 'You're letting me canter up to jumps??' But she still didn't rush her fences.  She'd adjust if she was a bit short, shorten if she was a little long, and respond if i asked her to woah up a bit.  It was pretty fricken amazing.
After that came the water.  We're going to have to work on this a little.  She was pretty good aobut it, but not fantastic.  She'd never seen water that deep, and Beans was freaking out.  She went in once Bean did, but she's got to learn to go by herself.  Our only real catch was wit the banks.  She goes off of 'em pretty green!  There was one little conbination (like pre beginner novice 2' little)that we worked with.  It was a bank (meant to be ridden up) one stride to a little log, if my memory serves me correctly.  We worked up and down the bank a couple of times before trying a real bank (Novice level).  There were trees on either side of the bank.  Keep that in mind.  As per usual, we followed Beans off the bank.  Cadence was getting pretty close to her, and knowing that we were probably going to launch off of it I pulled her off to the left a little, only to get taken out by the tree less than a half stride before the bank.  Then she launched herself 24 feet off the bank, and I clung on for dear life.  Thankfully my horse is awesome and didn't feel the need to buck, so in my stirrupless frenzy, I was able to pull her up and salvage the mess.  We went and practiced the baby bank a couple more times.  The day ended well with us rocking our first real (under 4 stride) combination.  We cantered calmly to the base of the baby bank, popped up it, and rode smoothly over the second fence.  Great way to end a day! 

A/N: The only semi-bad thing that came out of xc is that she sprung a heel (not a biggy since she's having it fixed right now) and now needs a belly guard.  I shouldn't complain, it's great that she tucks up so nice.  However (there's always a but) that's another expense that I REALLY don't need at the moment considering I just sprung for a new bridle.  Ah well, she really does need that belly guard.... there goes my bank account!
I'm off to write a math test.  Cheers!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

XC, Storms, and Dressage Pics

The pictures from Cadence and my first show are up at long last!
 Scary car down, scary photographer still to go.
(You can see me talking to her :P)
 Not exactly on the bit, but at least she's in the arena!
Gahh, hunter position... and look at those elbows!
I knew my position was going to suck, I'd jsut hoped it wouldn't suck this much.  I have this bad habit of concentrating solely on the horse, and then I end up riding like a hunter.  Grrrr....
Monday night my coach emails and asks if I can go cross country on Wednesday.  Well, I'm in my second last week of classes with waaaay too much work to do and exams that I haven't even begun to revise for... so of course, count me in!  We checked the weather multiple times after our somewhat disastrous last cross country attempt, and every website had something different.  Some said thunderstorms all day, some said clear and sunny all day.  I chose to believe it was going to be sunny, but the one thing everyone seemed to agree on was that it was going to be hot.
I went to bed Tuesday night, full of excitement and anticipation for the next day.  Now, in my bedroom, there's a window right behind my head.  I generally leave this window open to let a breeze in.  Back on topic.  So at 1:28 am on Wednesday morning I was awoken to a loud crack.  I look up and see a tree limb flying past my bedroom window, sheeting rain, hail, booming thunder, and... strobe lights? There were in fact no strobe lights (big surprise) but intense lightning that lit up the sky multiple times per second, illuminating the world in sharp detail.  I ran down stairs and unplugged all electronics, and then stayed up for another hour just watching the storm.  A part of me was too nervous to go back to sleep.  I love storms, especially thunderstorms but there was something... menacing about this one.  I sat there watching the huge old pine tree 15ft from my bedroom window swaying back and forth and thought 'If that falls, I'm dead' a tree that big just shouldn't move.  At ALL.  Eventually, I went back to sleep.  When I woke up I was surprised to find the power still on.  It did go off at some point during the day, but the storm didn't knock it out.
As I drove to the barn I saw trees toppled (one fall on our shed.  Thankfully the chicken coop was spared) along with hydro poles, limbs all over, and several roads closed from storm damage.  Apparently a tornado touched down somewhere near us.  This is extremely odd, because if there was in fact a tornado, it would be the second in one week for an area that doesn't get tornadoes.  Anyhow, the good thing about the storm was that it cleared the forecast!  Cross country was still on.
The lady who was giving Cadence and I a lift was late because the power had gone off at her place and her horses had been out in the storm all night, so she was held up a bit.  By the time she got her mare loaded and picked us up it was9:30.  We were hoping to arrive early to avoid the heat, but with an 1 1/2 hour drive ahead of us it didn't look like we were going to make it.
To be continued...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Put one foot infront of the other

And you just may make it through the day... but probably not.  Knowing me, I'll trip.

It's 7:30am, and I'm sitting in the deserted hallway of my school painting my toenails and writing this blog post.  Why is that important?  Well, it isn't really... but the events leading up to it sort of are.  I've had one of those crazy insane weekends after which you're not 100% sure what you thought of it, because your head still hasn't stopped spinning.
Friday I went out to the barn (big surprise) only to find out that my lesson had been cancelled.  My coach had been trying to get a hold of me, but to no avail so she'd left word with our BO.  Disappointing, but not a big deal.  We worked on all the fun stuff necessary for our XC outing the next day, and then went for a nice hack.  Short, but sweet.
Saturday dawned dark and cloudy.  Cadence's ride arrived 15 minutes early, and thank god because it tool 1/2 hour to load her.  They had a 2 horse slant, and whenever she got up the ramp we'd try to move her bum over and she'd go right back down again.  In the end, we unloaded the other horse and popped her into the first stall.  This worked fine, and the other horse hopped right back on.  The place we were headed was 1-1/2 hours away.  About 45 minutes into it, it started to drizzle.  Then it started to rain, and then it started to storm.  Thunder, lightning, torrential downpour, the whole nine yards.  I never totally understood that expression... but I digress.  When we got off the highway, we went to turn down the road to the barn only to find that it was closed, because a bridge had washed out.  Fun fun fun.  The lady who was trailering called our coach, and she said that we'd have to turn back.  Even if it did stop, they didn't want us on the course.  Makes sense, so we turned and headed home.  When we returned home, Cadence got a short break before I tacked her up and we had a short jump school ourselves.  She was quite good for the jumps, but we tried cantering some poles, and she bounced the one stride.  More than once.  She doesn't like poles....
The rest of my day was spent driving.  I drove up to the family farm to visit with my uncle who'd flown in from Alberta.  After arriving at 10pm, I spent the next 2 1/2 hours attempting to explain the thoroughbred industry to my 12 year old cousin who now wants to become a jockey and win the triple crown .  I love her dearly, but at midnight, the only discussion I want to be having is with my pillow.
Sunday involved more driving.  Driving home from the farm, showering, spending 1 hour on schoolwork (not nearly enough time), and then getting picked up by one of my friends to go to a concert in Toronto for a band that I don't even really know.  I think I'd listened to 3 of their songs before, and had never heard of the opening band.  I didn't mind them, so I would have been excited to go to the concert, except I had a splitting headache and had been feeling sick all day.  Just my luck ;)  The concert itself wasn't bad.  I made us NOT get stuck in the middle of the crowd, so we ended up in (what I considered to be) a pretty good spot.  Near the front, great view, but not beung pressed up against from all sides.  Too claustrophobic for that!  I had a wall on my back, and we were close enough to the edge of the crowd that it was easy to escape if necessary.  The first band wasn't my favourite.  The keyboardist repeatedly stood on, stomped on, and banged on his instrument, which made me repeatedly cringe.  Their only redeeming feature was their back up vocalist/trumpet player.  Interesting touch, and not what you'd expect.  The second band was called fun. and I loved them.  Good music, and good on stage.  The main attraction was Panic! at the Disco.  They were also really great.  Engaging and entertaining, combined with good music.  What more could you ask for?
The plan was for me to spend the night with my friend, and have her bring me in to school in the morning.  We got home at around 12:30, and we woke up at 6 because she had to be into school for an early morning band practice, which is why I'm sitting here at 7:30 (now 8am) writing a blog post and painting my toes, while thoroughly avoiding any and all homework... for now.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Another XC Attempt... And a Pony Gardening Session

Why oh why is it that whenever you plan on doing something that requires clear skies it ALWAYS gets rained out?  There is (a somewhat tentative XC school planned for Saturday, which I may/may not be attending depending on whether I can get a ride, and the weather.  Naturally, as we're hoping to go XC, there's a 70% chance of showers. -_-
Yesterday Cadence was great.  She looked fantastic while our BO was lunging her.  She's such a pretty girlie.  No bias here... ;)  However, since she was nice and sweaty after her lunge session, I took her and we walked up and down the drive a couple of times.  On the way back into the barn, we stopped while I opened the door.  I looked over at Cadence, and she had the long leafed plant (think the leaves of an iris... but without the flower) from the urn near the door dangling from her mouth.  I freaked (firstly because I didn't know if it was poisonous) and managed to pry her mouth open and rescue the plant, still fully intact (though slightly worse for wear) and re-plant it.  I took her back into the barn, and put on my best puppy dog face as I went to tell our BO.  She laughed... apparently another horse did the same thing last year.  At least my mare isn't the only psycho one!