Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Ride of 2012

We had a good, but quick ride today; a perfect way to end the year. Cadence was a little bossy with her head today, and a little heavier on the right. However, we still had a really nice ride. We left out the lateral work, but worked on lengthens and simple changes. Well, the focus was more on the transitions versus the change, but that's effectively what we were doing.
I have videos, but they're on my phone & my technological prowess is rather limited... So for now I'll leave you with some pics.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year in Review: 2012

First trail ride, & 3rd ride back.  Didn't end well...
January started off with a bang.  I left the country for 32 hours total, and yet in that time Cadence managed to land herself in the Equine Hospital; this time she was 'admitted' for a bout of (antibiotic induced) colitis.  Cadence's leg continued to heal from her Dec 2011 injury.  In early Jan, she was started under saddle again and, after having her stitches removed, we began the LONG rehab process that accompanies over a month of stall rest.  About mid-month, a cough spread around the barn (and the area) and I panicked about EHV-1. We started cantering again at the end of the month, and enjoyed our first lesson back at the end of the month.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Lesson Recap

Before heading off to spend Christmas with the family, I was able to fit in two fantastic riding lessons. We started off with a jumping lesson on Friday, putting another test ride on the Amerigo. My foot handled this ride a little better, & we jumped through a little gymnastic with the final oxer eventually being hiked up to 4 foot! Naturally, I didn't have any type of recording device with which to capture the event.  Just my luck.  Anywho, Cadence popped the 4' oxer a few times like it was nothing, but caught me in the butt once when she kicked up behind; I was surprised at how much it hurt...  After the gymnastic, we jumped through a fun exercise with two oxers set 3 strides apart.  You canter through the line, then ride a figure eight, taking both oxers on an angle.  Cadence was a pro, and handelled it beautifully.  There was one rider-induced screw up( rode a poor line/bad turn on the in to the 3 stride) which resulted in her catching a rail, but all things considered it could have been a lot worse. Overall though, it was a fantastic lesson.

The next day we had a dressage lesson in which we focused on Cadence's lateral work (mostly leg-yield in the trot & shoulder-in) and canter transitions.  We did some nose-to-wall leg yields, & focused on keeping all her feet in the right place in the shoulder/haunches-in.  She's caught on to the lateral work like a forest fire, and its been fun to watch her progress so rapidly.  I however have some catching up to do in that department, as I feel like I'm inhibiting her progress.
The canter transitions are something that Cadence struggles with a bit more, as she really prefers to just run through my aids and go flying into a runaway trot.  As fun as that may be, I personally prefer it when she sits back and flats into a collected trot.  However, 90% of the time Cadence wins.  We started to address this by spiralling in on a circle (at the canter) and riding our canter-trot transition on the smaller circle.  We'd then spiral back out, getting her into my outside rein, and pop back into the canter.  This was a great exercise, and was quite helpful for a while.  But recently, serpentines with simple changes on the center line have proven to be a far more effective means of acheiving balanced transitions.  I can't quite figure out why- maybe its the quick pace, or the constant changes of bend- but with this exercise we executed some truly beautiful transitions... probably our best transitions yet.  I also discovered that her trot-canter transitions (which were weaker than her canter-trots in the summer) have become absolutely lovely!  When I have her nicely balanced, that is.
So in the dressage, the areas that we're pushing are mostly the lateral work, and improving the quality of the canter & transitions.  I'd love to get some dressage video footage soon, since the work is feeling good but I have this awful feeling that it feels way better than it looks.  Ah well.  Mehaps I can cajole some family members into coming to film crew for me ;)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Posted just in time, with 2 minutes to spare! Hope everyone who celebrates the holiday enjoyed the holiday, and timespent time with family & friends.
Kate & Cadence

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Picture Post

Lazy post.  Pics from my lesson last sat. when I was trying out the Amerigo DJ close contact.  Loved it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heights- OHTA vs USEA

I noticed a few differences between the heights I compete at, and the USEA heights.  They're relatively similar, save for a few differences.  We have different max vertical and max oxer (or spread...) heights, and you guys really like to amp up your brush heights!
Anywho, OHTA is always first, and USEA is second.

1. Entry:
Fixed: 2'9
Brush: 3'1
Vertical: 2'9
Spread: 2'9

Beginner Novice: (USEA)

Fixed: 2'7
Brush: 2'9
Vertical: 2'7
Spread: 2'7

Spread- 3'

Novice: (USEA)

3.Training: (OHTA)
Vertical- 3'5

Training: (USEA)
Rocking out at 3'2... (Pre-Training Stadium)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sore Backed Ponies

This is how Cadence expresses her displeasure with me for riding her when her back is sore:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mostly Wordless Friday

Cause words take more time than I've got.  Saddle fitter's coming tonight though, so maybe our lack of jumping saddle will be solved!
Pics are of trial of Prestige Boston CC

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Weeks Worth of Rides

Monday: Tried riding in one of the trial close contact saddles.  It was a Passier close contact (don't remember the model) and the minute I swung my leg over the saddle, I wasn't impressed.  The saddle didn't fit Cadence at all, and she was tense, sucked back, and trying to buck.  We walked, trotted, threw in a little canter, and hopped over a wee tiny x-rail, all the time my foot was in considerable pain.  Clearly not quite ready to ride with stirrups yet.
I switched over to the dressage saddle with the hope of remedying some parts of the ride, but Cadence was still miserable and alternately sucked back or charging forward.  Gave up on the best note possible.

Wednesday: Lunged Cadence and did some ground work.  She was a bit pushy but relatively good all in all. A bit stiff right.

Friday: I'd had an awful ride on Tuesday, and was almost putting off riding again.  School consumed me (neurophysiology and genetics, anyone?) and I just let it.  So naturally with 3 non-riding days in a row, Cadence was difficult.  She was tense, stiff to the right, and energetic.  When she's had a bit too much time off, her excess energy tends to come out in excess attitude.
The trot work was decent enough, but it fall apart in the canter work. We started to the right (as we usually do, because her left lead canter is the one she likes to run on) but Cadence was far more interesting in galloping rather than sitting back and collecting, and locked up her body when I attempted to bring her back.  And when she'd lock up, she'd become unbalanced and end up swapping out, grabbing the bit, and even breaking once.  We ended up just pushing through some walk-canter-walk-side pass, keeping her busy, moving, thinking, and not giving her enough time to flip out.  My right arm was SO SORE by the end of the ride I was set on having my coach ride her the next day, and popping the clammer in her mouth.

Saturday: Saturday was lesson day, and though I'd planned on having my coach ride her.... somehow I ended up sitting in the saddle instead.  My foot was feeling okay after my ride (with stirrups) so, what harm could it do?  I DID put the clammer in her mouth, and was glad I did.  Her trot work was lovely.  Soft, even, and not laying on the right in the transitions.
We ran through the lateral work, and Cadence's leg yield and shoulder-in work was fantastic!  Nice and consistent, and most importantly... calm! She was a bit fussy in the haunches in, but it wasn't bad.  I  let the mare down majorly in the half-pass though.  When my coach rode her last week, she introduced Cadence to the half pass, and quickly demonstrated beautiful, correct, and consistent half-pass work in both the walk and the trot.  However, when I tried to replicate that it was a little less picturesque!  To say the least.  It felt like we were either in a shoulder in, haunches in, or leg-yield.  I just couldn't seem to get the shoulder and the haunches working together for me!  We got a few steps though.
The canter work was... well... better than Friday.  Cadence was again unhappy about collection, and demonstrated this through bucking. Very un-Cadence like behaviour.  Anyway, I picked up a dressage whip, corrected her when she bucked, and we went on our happy little way.  Miss Mare was still heavier and stiffer on my right rein, specifically when I was bringing her back.  We worked on getting quality transitions, even (or perhaps especially) when Cadence was a little revved up.  The goal was to spiral in on a canter circle, making sure she was balanced and not pushing her/putting her in a place where she can't balance herself.  Then when on the smaller circle, transition to trot staying on the small circle.  Spiral out in the trot, then repeat.  Its one of my favourite exercises to do, and I find it an incredibly helpful exercise for horses tha like to barge through downwards transitions and rush off.  Cadence was sweaty at the end, but still had her spunk!

Sunday: Tried the other test ride saddle I had, a Prestige Roma Jump.  The saddle did not fit me at all, and left my lower leg swinging like a pendulum over our cross rail, no matter what I did.  However, it was far more comfortable than the Passier, and I think if I had a flap that actually fit (this was a very small and not very forward flap, whereas I need the exact opposite) the saddle may have left a better impression.  However, I wasn't sold on it and for that price, I need a saddle that makes me want to wrap it all up in bubble wrap (to match my horse) and put it up on a pedestal.
Anywho, the good part of that was that we cantered a cross rail a few times, which is almost like jumping.  Oh, and I successfully rode in jumping length stirrups without too much pain.  Yay!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Slow and Steady... Or Something Like That

I am not a patient person.  I have a habit of pushing too hard, trying to do too much, etc. and the same can definitely be applied to healing from an injury.  Thus far, I've been lucky in life and haven't had to endure any major injuries.... though I've probably jinxed myself now!  Broken bones have been limited to fingers and toes, I've yet to have any major surgeries, and though I was a sickly child, I haven't had to stay the night in hospital for almost 16 years.  So in short, I got off pretty damn easy.  However, I think my relatively injury-free life has made taking things down a notch and letting my foot heal all the more difficult. 

To be perfectly honest, the hardest part by far has been learning to ask for help.  I'm stubbornly independent (or perhaps just plain stubborn) and learning to accept my limitations (and ask favours of others when needed) has been quite challenging.  However, the next most challenging thing would have to be just plain slowing down.  Having to sit still, not go outside to run or ride, not being able to hike, play with my dog, feed the chickens, etc. has been painful, and I think to an extent put me in a bit of a depression.  Even riding lost some of its luster, and when I had to reschedule a barn trip it was an 'oh well' versus 'Oh my god, its the end of the universe'.

However, over the past 72 hours my foot has improved leaps and bounds.  I've ridden WITH STIRRUPS for 3 days in a row, I can now fit my foot in a shoe (with the laces loosened) and I can actually see and feel the blood vessels in my foot.  Yay!  The improvements that have been so slow up to this point are finally starting to show up.  Here comes the hard part though: not rushing it.  For with improvement (at least in my case) comes the tendency to push for more.  Alas, as Karen O'Connor's orthopedic surgeon wisely noted, you can't make bones heal faster, you can only slow them down.  So tomorrow, though the temptation to walk is definitely there, I'll once again be on crutches as I trek from class to class.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


That pretty much sums up how I feel right now.  My hatred of saddle shopping + a pissed off (and sore backed) Cadence + my stupid foot = a grumpy Kate.

The Offending Parties:
Saturday I went saddle shopping, and learned a few things:
1) There is absolutely no way I'm going to be able to get a used Childeric that will fit Cadence and myself properly
2) To stick with the Childeric brand, we will basically need a fully custom saddle, as my leg exceeds the measurements of their longest most forward flap.  The tree will also have to be custom fit to cadence, with extra special widened panels.  The cost? Won't change.  The resale possibilities? Basically, none.  And if she changes again (which she will) I could be completely screwed.
3) I've been spoiled, and don't like most other brands. Brought home a Passier to try and hated it.  The seat was just so damn uncomfortable!!  Plus, it was too tight which made Cadence pissy so she threw in a few good bucks even when I switched into her usual dressage saddle (which fits perfectly, as it JUST got re-flocked to fit her back's new musculature)

So Childeric is basically out, even though I'd get an almost $600 discount if I bought a new saddle from them (a loyalty discount so to speak) making it basically the cheapest option.  I want something wool flocked, or at least flocked with something more adjustable than foam.  Amerigo looks like a good option ATM, providing I can find a way to afford them.  With the sales off my old saddle, a new Amerigo would still be another $800... which I don't know where I'd find.  Donations, anyone?

Also, my foot is not healing up the way its supposed to.  It's still too swollen to fit into anything other than my winter riding boots, which are about 3 sizes too big and wide enough that I can easily slip my foot in with 3 pairs of wool socks.  However, my broken foot just barely fits into it even with the thinnest of socks, and the laces completely off to afford maximum space in which to jam my foot.  Said foot is also still blue & green, and has only begun to yellow in the past 24 hours... which is NOT normal, as it has now been 2 weeks since I broke it.

I tried to ride with stirrups the other day, as I wanted to get an accurate feel for what the Passier was like.  Bad plan.  The combination of my horse bucking, my foot aching, and the saddle being uncomfortable made me almost as pissy as my horse!  It was a bad (and painful) enough experience that I have yet to ride again.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Post of NaBloPoMo & BTW, Its Broken.

 So this one post suddenly morphed into two with the addition of some... interesting news.  Hence  the two titles, and two sections.

Last Post of NaBloPoMo
An unoriginal title to be sure, but I have too much variety for this post to fit it neatly under one title, so an unoriginal generic title will suffice.
To begin with, today draws NaBloPoMo to a close.  I missed two days (both because I was traveling) this month, and while that frustrates me a little, 28 posts is still way above my monthly norm so I guess you could call it a success.  November's an awful month for NaBloPoMo to fall in, as its always an incredibly busy month.  But then again, when is there ever a month that isn't terribly busy?

My sprained foot is healing pretty well considering the severity of the sprain.  I've started putting a bit of weight on it.  Not fully weight bearing yet, but we're getting there.  I can bend and flex my toes (not to their fullest, that is) without pain now, and the bruising and swelling are FINALLY going away!!

I've ridden once since I sprained it, and Cadence was a saint.  It was Tues, and my foot was still quite painful at the time so I couldn't even touch her with my heel.  Riding an extremely forward and sensitive horse makes that easy.  Cluck and ask with seat to go forward, shift weight/use seat to turn.  The issue came with my balance being thrown off a bit since I
a) haven't done no stirrup work in the close contact in.... well, months.
b) had no control of my ankle and foot

She, having had more time off than usual (she was on day off day on work while I was away) was a little on the hot side but held it all in perfectly and was an angel.  I had her lunged for me on Wed, but she had yesterday (thurs) off, so we'll see what I get tonight.

BTW Its Broken
Breaking news!  Just got the radiologist's report on my x-rays back.  It turns out that in addition to the bad sprain I have, there's a hairline fracture that the first doc missed as well.  Just as I start to ditch the crutches, more bad news comes my way.  At least with this one it'll be duct tape and a stiff boot rather than crutches.  Small comfort though.  Anywho, now I'm paranoid that I've been treating the injury incorrectly, and that some of the pain I felt when I started to stretch and flex my foot wasn't just stiffness, but was the fracture instead.  A few choice words come to mind to express how I'm feeling at the moment, but it hardly seems appropriate to post.  Instead I'll head to the barn and take comfort in my amazing mare.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Monty Python Meets... Bicycling?

I saw this video on EN yesterday and immediatley thought of Monty Python.  If you've never seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail before, the reference will be lost... but the contraption is still entertaining!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Changing Conformation

I have some other confirmation pics of her, but I couldn't find them.  Ah well.  Excuse the red dots in some of  the pics- I couldn't find the copies w/o them.  Oh, and the l.s. conformation pictures are somewhat atrocious.  The pics are about 3 years apart though.  The single l.s. is Jan 2011, the dotted ones are March 2012, and the outdoor photos are Nov 2012

Right Side

Left Side

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 RK3DE SJ

Only a few months late! The exposure's a bit odd in some of these, but c'est la vie.  I just picked a few photos from the collection adding in some of my faves.  Too much work to go through and label each rider, but while I didn't post pictures of everyone the order they're in is pretty much the order they went in. Kate Brown's at the top (she wasn't last place, but she was near the end) and WFP's last. I tried to add in some pics of most of the jumps I photographed, ubt wasn't paying terribly close attention, so I've probably missed most of them! Enjoy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Becoming Buff

I thought the comparison between these pictures was interesting.  It shows the changes and development in the musculature in her neck as her training has progressed.

  This first picture was taken at Cadence's first show. I'd had her for about 3-4 months at that point, and you can see that she's not really soft up front and is bracing against my hands a bit.  The other thing I notice in this picture are her stifles. My god!!
This next picture was taken a month or two later, and while she's clearly more through (working back to front, on the bit, supple, etc.) the muscling in her neck is still relatively minimal.
 This is an awful moment... I'd just hopped on and was adjusting my reins so its a pretty awkward photo, but it was the only thing I could find that displayed a decent side view of her.  We're supposed to see some developments in the muscling in this photo, but (and while some of this is probably the dreadfully awkward angle) I don't see all that much change, and a fair bit of muscling on the under side of the neck is also visible.
 This was this past spring wen we were just getting back into work again, but the muscle groupings are still distinct, if not defined.
I don't have any dressage photos that are non-blurry enough to accurately portray the development of the musculature in her neck.  Here we're attempting to halt for a photo, and Cadence is attempting to either eat grass, or go for a gallop.  Either way, she was displeased.  Still, that bulk on the bottom of her neck is gone & while this certainly doesn't show her topline in all its glory (she's not round, on the bit, etc. and is instead trying to GRAB the bit....) it does the job.
Anywho, I just happened to notice this while looking for a photo and thought it would make a decent post to fill the time when I'm not riding.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Drool-Worthy Trot Work

I saw this video a few months ago, and it has stuck with me.  Though I was initially attracted to the pair because of the rider's Canadian citizenship, this horse's trot quickly captivated my attention.  Its liek he passages through his extensions!  Anyway, since I'm off horses for the time being this is all I really have to post about.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks... I Think

My family always celebrates (American) Thanksgiving on the Friday.  On both parents sides, we have family in the US and Canada, so a Friday thanksgiving just makes things a little easier. This year, I flew down to visit my sister, her hubby, and their two little ones to celebrate the holiday together.  Naturally, being me, I hadn't even started packing when I awoke Thursday morning. I hurriedly threw some clothing into a suitcase, dumped in some toiletries, and attempted to get my books together, including all the ones I'd need for the trip.  I left the house (miraculously) under 5 minutes late, and arrived with plentyof time to make it to my class.  After grabbing my bag from the truck, I turned around to grab my lunch, sitting on the seat of the car, and my ankle gave out on me.  I collapsed onto the sidewalk, gripping the car door for support.  I'd landed on my left foot (left ankle rolled) and I was in some serious pain.  Hobbling into my math class, I managed to steal some ibuprofen off one friend while another found me an ice pack, so with the ice pack pressed to my foot I sat back & tried to focus on a lecture that had something to do with trig... Though I couldn't tell you what... & waited for the pain to pass.
I'd decided to not to look at my foot, but after the lecture was over my friend turned around and her eyes went wide.  She exclaimed 'oh my god, look at your foot!' when I looked down, it looked like someone had sliced a golf ball in half and shoved it under my sock.  The ibuprofen had dealt with some of the pain at this point, but I could definitely still feel it.  After a little bit of convincing, I called my dad and had him drop me off at the Urgent Care Center.  Thankfully they weren't busy, so I was in and out in under 1.5 hours.
Thankfully, neither my ankle nor my foot are broken.  My foot has, according to the doc, 'one heck of a sprain' & while I'm thrilled about that, I was kind of hoping there was nothing wrong at all.  So at this point, I'm still not allowed to even TRY to weight bear for 7 days, & after that, my orders were to wait until it stops hurting.  Simple things like showering, or say walking... are now a total PITA. I've got huge red welts in my armpits, & my good foot is extremely sore from holding all my weight.  The only advantage was skipping to the front of the security line at the airport!  So far, I'm not having much fun with this... And I'm only 1 day in.  Save me!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November XC School Video

Here's the video from our XC school on the 18th.  Cadence was a superstar, save for the first time we went up the bank.  After that mini tantrum though, she was good as gold.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2 Year Anniversary

Wow, how time flies when you're having a good time!  Two years ago, I began this blog with the intent of chronicling my entrance into and journey through the world of eventing, and any other equine adventures that occurred along the way.  Since starting this blog, we've gotten just under 12 000 hits, and by the time I've posted this we'll probably be over 12 000.  Most of the readership is Canadian or American, but we've gotten a few fun ones like Latvia, Sweden, and Israel... though I often wonder how many of those are just spam!  The most read post is the Awards & 200th Post, and the 2011 Rolex cross country pics coming in a close second.
To be honest, I'm incredibly pleased I've managed to keep this blog going for so long.  There area times when its been tough, to be sure- I only posted 6 times throughout all of July and August. But for whatever reason, I've managed to stick it out & couldn't be more pleased about that fact.  Thus far, I've met my goal of chronicling my own progress and my horses progress, and I love the fact that no matter where I am, as long as there's internet I can pull up a picture of my ponies!  This blog has proved a great training diary, and a fantastic place to toss around ideas & put 'pen to paper' so to speak!  Next year will bring a lot of changes to my personal life, which will undoubtedly tumble over into my equestrian life as well... so will I get to write a third anniversary post? Only time will tell.  But in the mean time, I plan on keeping up with the blogging for as long as possible.

As there have been so many changes over the past two years, I've compiled a brief history detailing my adventures from the time I started this blog to the present day:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Related to Riding

Warning:There was a point to all of this.... but I'll be damned if I remember it.  I completely forgot why I was writing this half way through, ironically enough.

I'll admit, I don't have the greatest attention span... to say the least.  Riding is one of the few times I am able to actually focus and block everything else out.  When my head's 'in the zone' so to speak, I'm lost to the world; the task at hand receives 100% of my undivided attention.  But when I'm not on a horse's back, its hard to find that zone.  I suppose playing an instrument also allows me to focus.  In some ways the two tasks are similar, but in music, I'm influenced a lot more by my mood.  If I can't find anything to play that fits my mood, focus proves as elusive as the music.  Even then though, I never focus as well as when I'm on a horse's back.
This presented an interesting obstacle for me to overcome when I started catch-riding horses for other people.  I'd be asked to ride somebody's horse and work on this, that, or the other thing, but people often wanted to know what I was doing and why.  Fair enough, but it was extremely difficult at first for me to talk and ride simultaneousy.  I've always taken lessons, and have had people yelling at me from the second I first swung my leg over a horse's back.  So receiving instructions has never been an issue; it's all I've ever known, in a way.  But explaining to somebody why bending exercises in the walk and trot are important when working on keeping a horse from falling through their shoulder in the canter?  Totally different story when you're trying to execute said exercises at the same time.
Learning to divide your attention in that manner while still exacting the best possible results from the horse you're working with is something that I don't think can ever really be accomplished. However, the more familiar one is with a task, the easier it becomes to do that task perfectly even with very little attention.  I'm sure most people could say the alphabet while rubbing their stomach and tapping their head.  However, if I asked them to rub their stomach and tap their head while saying the alphabet backwards... we'd end up with a bit of a train wreck.  The same principle can then be applied to riding.  The more familiar you are with an exercise, and the better you are capable of explaining said exercise, the more successful one will be at doing both tasks simultaneously.  Though the rider may be more effective when completing each task individually, familiarity allows the brain to go into 'autopilot' for the parts that are understood best, so that the rider's attention can be diverted to whichever area needs it most.
Riding is, in and of itself, a test of one's ability to multitask.  For example, when was the last time you consciously thought about putting the rein between your pinky and ring fingers?  I personally never think about it... to a point where I will grip bag handles with my pinky on the outside and not notice.  When someone first begins to ride, their focus is on keeping their heels down, eyes up, fingers closed on the reins, etc.  Placing the rein between their pinky and ring finger is something that requires much conscious thought.  However, as a rider progresses and muscle memory kicks in, keeping your heels down becomes instinct, and the rider shifts their attention to new concepts like straightness and balance in both horse and rider.  By that measure, those who progress most quickly should be the people with a high level of physical awareness, and fantastic muscle memory. Right?
Thought that may be true in many sports, I think riding is a somewhat special case.  To ride successfully, emotional/mental control is often as important as the physical aspect.  Like several other sports, to be a good rider you have to be able to control your fear.  As a (formerly) avid skier and snowboarder, racing down slopes at high speeds, hopping over jumps, and speeding through mogels definitely requires you to swallow your fear and just focus on the task at hand, in the same way jumping through a coffin complex for the first time might.  However, in riding you have the added challenge of participating with a partner who can detect and feed off of your mood in a way your skiis never will.  In addition, a rider's ability to read the emotions of her horse is quite often equally as valuable.  Knowing whether a horse is acting up or if they're just frightened can be the difference between permanently scarring a horse or having an absolute menace, and creating a successful, well adjusted, confident, and respectful equine partner that is a pleasure to ride and work with, and in my opinion, therein lies the difference between riding and all other sports.  To be a successful equestrian, the rider must learn to be an athlete, to achieve a heightened level of emotional awareness and control, and to speak a language that involves no words, and yet is quite as complex and nuanced as any language that does.

Okay, rant over for now.  I've really enjoyed thinking about this though, and would like to return to the subject... perhaps fit some science in to back up my hypotheses.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

XC Snaps

Well, video stills... but you get the point.  We had an awesome school today. Cadence was strong, and apparently thought my arms needed a work out.  Better than my legs I guess; at least you know she's (REALLY) enjoying herself! My amazing dad came up and played videographer, so hopefully I'll have the video up by Tuesday.
 We totally aren't over jumping... nope! Not at all.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A (Very) Quick Update

Once again, I'm lacking in time.. so I'm only updating a segment of my day.  Cadence had her massage today, and while there was definitely some soreness in the saddle area (as was expected...) the rest of her was awesome!  All the knots she'd previously had have been worked out, and her physical condition has improved tremendously according to her massage therapist.  So all in all good news.  The bad news is that I still haven't found a new saddle (or a temporary sub) so we have to go xc tomorrow in our ill fitting one.  I wouldn't put her through it if it wasn't our last chance to go xc for months.... but....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gahh, No Time!

I have this lovely post almost finished, & I'd planned on posting it today, but life got in the way.  Still no word on the XC school for Sun, so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.
Actually, as I wrote this, I got an email confirming for noon on Sunday.  YAY!  Xc, here we come!
Okay... maybe not QUITE like that, but I can dream!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

XC vs Dressage Show

Goin cross country back in 2011
This Sunday Cadence and I were going to go to a dressage show... until the opportunity for a xc school came up.  I'd say it was a hard choice, but really there was never even a choice to make... xc, here we come!  Now y'all cross your fingers and pray the weather holds!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Changing it Up

In my jumping lesson last Friday, the last one I'll EVER have in my poor gorgeous saddle, we had some torture fun playing with Cadence's adjustability in the canter.  First we started by popping over a few warm up fences, and jumping them out of a normal show jumping canter and a more collected canter.  Then my coach set up a 4 stride line with two small (2'6) oxers set at 50 or so feet, I believe.  Our first exercise involved riding a circle over the first jump, then coming back around and jumping through the line.  Seems easy, but once you've jumped the one fence on a circle a few times its a LOT of work to keep your horse straight through the line!  Keeps the ponies on their toes though.  Next we repeated the first exercise, but this time after jumping through the line, we cantered back across the diagonal to jump the first oxer on an angle.  Making any sense? Okay, I'll attempt to draw a bad diagram to help.  Anywho, neither Cadence nor I had ever jumped an angled fence intentionally, so that was interesting.  She was a pro, hopping over it like it was nothing.   We repeated the same exercise in the other direction, having great success there too.  The trouble came when we had to work on changing the length of her stride.  Fitting 5 strides into a 4 stride line is not fun.  Not at all.  We first had a lot of trouble getting in deep to the first fence.  I'd collect her canter, and she'd just take off early... nowhere near the fence.  Damn scopey horses -_- Once we kind of got that under control, we repeated the same circle-line exercise (angled fence and all) except we (attempted) to fit 5 strides into the line before returning to our showjumping canter and cantering over the angled fence... in a controlled manner.  Shortening up was hard for her.  She broke on me a few times, went WAY long on me a few times, and even took down a rail or two.  However, in the end we got it, & quit the jumping on a fantastic note.  To finish off the lesson, we introduced flying lead changes, & she picked them up beautifully only missing one change over the pole the entire time.  Go mare!
can you tell I'm not a computer person?
I did try to use different line patterns for the different elements of the exercise... oh, and the diagonal line across the fence indicates that it can be jumped at an angle too?  They both can, as they're just plain square oxers... so I don't know why that was necessary.  Ah well.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Cheat Post

This is a total cheat post.  Last night I managed to fall (no... not off a horse.  Just jogging on wet ground) and whack my head.  Hard. REALLY hard.  So anyway, I have a legitimate excuse for not writing out a full post; my head still hurts like a bi*ch, and I can barely move my head my neck's so stiff.
On a positive note, here's Henny!  I remember seeing him at Rolex, and (knowing nothing about him or Peter Atkins) immediately falling in love with his ears!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saying Goodbye to my Saddle

Back in Mid September Cadence started pinning her ears.  She'd pin her ears when you put her saddle on, pin her ears when you got on, and occasionally pin her ears when stretching in the trot.  This behaviour, while not out of place on most horses, was extremely out of character for her.  I checked her back, fearing she was a bit sore, but she was never reactive.  However, on a whim one day I checked her whithers, and was alarmed to note that she was quite sensitive in her whither area.  It was probably early October by the time I made this discovery.I immediately panicked, fearing we were going to suddenly regress into the disaster that was this past spring, but after having a bit of sense talked into me, I formed a (more) ratinoal plan.
1. Call massage therapist and have her check out The Mare
2. Get her to tell me whether or not I'm going all Munchausen by Proxy and creating issues, or if there's actually something going on with her
3. Call saddle fitter if neccesary
By the time all 3 steps had been completed, it was mid October, and by the time the saddle fitter arrived at the barn, it had been over a month and a half.  Cadence wasn't seriously sore, but she wasn't herself either, and sure enough... there were some fit issues.  The dressage saddle was correctable.  I'm going to take it in in a week or so so that they can re-stuff it over Thanksgiving, since I'll be gone and won't be needing my saddle.  The bad news though is that I'm going to have to sell my beloved close contact.  The saddle was actually (and unbelievably) a gift.   I'd tried out a used Childeric on a whim, and fallen in love. It was the only cc I'd ridden in that fit me, fit my horse, and was comfortable!  However, lovely as it was, I couldn't afford it :(  That saddle was then purchased and gifted to me, and was concluded to be a 'perfect fit' for my mare.  However, that was in March.  She's a very different shape, all buffed up... and has grown from a medium narrow to a medium wide.  So my beloved jumping saddle will be up for sale, and I'll be searching for something used, comfortable, and *hopefully* reasonably priced.  Goodbye my beauty; you will be missed!
Fun times rocking the Luc Childeric

Since I don't randomly take pictures of my saddle, this was the best I could find.  Look at that soft, beautifully coloured leather!  Oh how buttery soft and smooth...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembarence Day


On 11th of November, we pause to remember those who have fallen fighting for our nation.  We pause to remember those who fought and survived, and those who are still fighting.  Lest we forget.

I also thought I'd share a little video.  I'll admit, I'm not fond of our current government and their policies, but this crossed the line in my opinion.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Stick It Seat Cont'd

I've probably gone on with this theme for long enough, but whwn I was looking back through the 'official' photos from our show season this year, I just couldn't resist posting a few of my favourites!  Like magical slippers and ball gowns, these babies will turn back into pumpkins in a few days time because I'm really not fond of sharing the work of other photographers without their permission.   So why have I done it?  The photos crack me up, and I couldn't think of another way to share them.  Anywho, enjoy.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jumping for Joy

Since last time I shared bad jump photos, I thought I should share at least a few nice ones, even if they're not as fun.
 Cadence's first course
 Okay, that one isin't really the best example of a 'good' jump, seeing as she's jumping about 3 feet too high, but its a decent picture so we're taking it. Plus, it was the only jump we did that day!

 Okay, that one's actually a rather ugly looking jump on Cadence's part... she's not using her neck at all.  But the reason I showed it is because I'm pretty sure that's the closest we've ever gotten to a xc fence!

 Aww, mare-face!

 The last jump on the wettest course on earth!
Sanity! Its a beautiful thing.
She still doesn't like to get too close to the jumps...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

(Attempt at) Conformation Pics

I've wanted to get some decent conformation shots of Cadence for a while.  However, between the weather, time, and convincing someone to come play photographer or pony handler, I haven't had much luck.  Until last Sunday, that is.  We got some shots.  None were spectacular (they were taken on the video camera b/c the nice pretty camera I'd stolen borrowed died on me) as Miss Mare was far more interested in eating the grass than standing in the cold to have her picture taken.  Oh, and the ground wasn't perfectly even either... so she looks a bit butt high/oddly proportioned in some!
 Umm.... morgan horse impersonation?
 Angled towards the camera & pissy 'you no let me eat grass' face
 Still angled towards the camera, but at least she looks happier.
 Pretty mare perks up with the possibility of a trail ride!
Ain't she sweet?
 She's got the tiniest mouth!