Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UPDATED: Monday Jump School (10-09-2012)

Cadence and I were supposed to have a jumping lesson on Monday (mid-hurricane) but unfortunately my coach had to cancel.  So instead, we had a basic gymnastic school starting off by trotting some x-rails, doing a few one strides, and then a one-one gymnastic. To finish off, we cantered some 1m oxers, which ring in just above our 0.98m stadium height. And for those who prefer to use feet and inches, that's 3'4 and 3'2. I have a video, but for some reason it doesn't want to come up... so here are some video stills, & I'll add the video ASAP.
She was great, but felt like she was putting a lot of power into every jump.  Its not that she was over jumping them or anything. It was more similar to juggling/throwing a ball. when you throw a ball in the air, you can throw it to the same height with a lot of energy, or with minimal energy.  It all has to do with how you flick your hands.  She was putting a TON of energy into the jumps, eventhough she wasn't necessarily over jumping them.
 First time through the gymnastic

Second time 
Raised the back rail to 3'2... she had fun with this! 
 Made it a square oxer which we cantered in to

Cantering in to the oxer from the left 

(over) jumping the oxer to the left... 
She took a relatively long spot to it... and had fun! 

 3'3? How bout 5'3!
And finally, a nice one :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Nous Sautons + A Dressage Lesson

To translate- We Jump + A Dressage Lesson. It just sounded better in french.  Anywho, since I mentioned something about having nothing exciting to write about... Cadence went and gave me something to write about! We were just having a light jump school, and I decided to try the serpentine exercise again.  We warmed up over the cross-rails on a circle first in the trot, and then in the canter before moving on to the serpentine.  When we went to try the circle to the left, Cadence took a really long spot to the fence and I was forced to slip my reins.  She landed on the incorrect lead, going way too fast. She tried to go left, as I opened my rein to go right, so realizing what she was doing, I decided to just sit there and let her turn wherever she wanted.  Keep in mind we're approaching the wall, and hast here.  There are maybe 2.5 strides between the x and the wall.  So while I sat there waiting for her to turn... she cantered on... heading straight for the wall.  I kept waiting and waiting for her to go one way or the other, and she just didn't turn!  As her nose was about to touch the wall, she slammed on the breaks, curled up her neck, and avoided severe catastrophe by mere millimeters.  We jumped the x a few more times on the left circle without incident, but I was a lot more careful about ensuring her canter was EXTREMELY collected, and that she'd let me hold her to her spot.  After a quick break (to let the other rider in the righ get some stuff done) we picked back up to work on the serpentine exercise.  The goal of the exercise is to change leads over every jump, and calmly ride the relatively tight turns associated with jumping serpentines in indoor arenas.  After our wall incident, I was a bit wary.  Turns out I had no need to worry- she jumped every single fence absolutely perfectly.  Twice.  I was stunned  She got every change, hit every distance, and only fought me on her pace once... which I was able to get under control in plenty of time to set up for the next fence.  We quit while we were ahead, and cooled out for the night.

The next day I had a dressage lesson. AFter a good warm up, we ran through some transitions and since the mare was being quite good and not grabbing/being rammy, we moved on to some leg yield work.  Cadence is still quite green with this, and has leg yielded in the trot less than 5 times.  She understands the aids when given in conjunction with the exercises we normally work on, but when given out of context it can take a try or two before she clues in.  Today (or Friday rather) we did some leg yield in the trot, then moved on to a new exercise to focus on getting her to move laterally off my aids, and into my outside rein.  To start, we trotted a circle at C.  Then, at R, you would transition to walk, and basically do a 180 so you were facing C.  Then leg yield/side pass to the opposite side of  the arena, pick up your trot, and repeat.  After doing this in both directions, we picked up canter, cantered a circle, and then rode the exercise so that you transitioned from canter (to trot) to walk, side passed, and picked up the canter again.  About here, Cadence had a little melt down and decided that this was too much work, too confusing, and not fun any more... so she wasn't going to move.  It took some convincing, but after doing it well a few times to the right, we moved to the left.  She did so well with it that at the end we skipped the trot, and asked her for her first walk-canter transitions... which she did beautifully!  Go mare!  After two walk-canters, we called it a day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Trail Rides and Training

I haven't posted much recently, because it feels like I haven't had anything to write about.  Its not that nothing's been happening, but rather that since our action-packed competition season's come to an end, we're without big exciting news to relay and I've apparently forgotten how to do the other stuff! Anywho, last  Sunday I trailered Cadence into what has to be the premiere trail riding location in Ontario, and is probably one of the best in Canada... not that I'm biased!  It was the first time in a long time we've gone somewhere and haven't done dressage, xc, and stadium.  We were meeting a few old friends, so while we waited we did some dressage in a nice large grassy field (with the loveliest footing I've seen in ages!) while families picnicked around us and commented on how beautiful my beastie was!  When we were done I could totally see her thinking 'right, now onto the jumping'! No such luck, little mare.  We had a lovely trail ride, I panicked about trotting her on hard footing (that wasn't really that bad... but I like to worry), and she had a temper tantrum when I didn't let her gallop with the other ponies which resulted in me forcing her to walk while she pranced and snorted for a while.  She eventually settled though, and was brilliant.  While the riding part was fun, the scenery we encountered was absolutely gorgeous!  The whole place was lit up by brilliant golden light filtering through the canopy of orange and yellow leaves, and falling onto moss covered rocks, leaf-laden trails, and pristine babbling brooks. Even if that description makes it seem like a unicorn covered in rainbows and lollipops should appear prancing through the water. Either way, it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

On the training front, show season's over which means we're free to get back to the training side of things.  Since August, we've focused mostly on keeping Cadence happy, maintaining the same quality of work, and not getting her rattled.  Its not that we didn't improve or didn't learn anything new, but rather that our focus shifted from tackling new concepts to perfecting what we've got.  We'd deal with any issues that arose, but other than that it was mostly just reviewing the basic stuff, keeping her energy levels down, and making sure she happy.  While I feel that this type of ride should probably make up at least half of a horse's training schedule, pushing onward, challenging yourselves, trying new things, and being unafraid to get a little dirty can be just as rewarding.  Doing only what you're good at lacks the spice that keeps things interesting.  In short, I'm ready for a challenge again!

We had one of those lessons the other day.  After warming up through a little gymnastic and cantering some oxer a few times, my coach set up two cross rails on a serpentine.  We started at the trot, focusing on landing on the correct lead.  Naturally, Cadence was perfect so after two attempts we tried it from the canter. The goal of the exercise is to canter into the fence on one lead, and land on the other.  The original plan was to just introduce the mare to it in the trot, and save the canter for another day... but she was so bored with the trot, we moved right on into the canter.  I was incredibly impressed with how well she did.  Did she change leads every time? No. Did we have some ugly, disorganized, awful fences? You bet!  But all things considered, she was brilliant.  That's the stuff I miss. I miss the ugly, disorganized, craziness. Because out of that, you blossom.  If you only have daisies and rainbows, what is there to work towards?

Friday, October 12, 2012

LH, RF, & XC

LH- Lame Horse.
Yup, my mare took her first off step in the 1.5 years I've owned her tonight.  Thankfully, it doesn't appear to be anything serious.  A wee tiny bit of heat in the coronet area & heel bulb, and a slight shortening of stride around some turns coupled with the occasional head bob.  I originally just attributed it to poor footing (as we were riding in the un-harrowed ring outside) but my coach picked up on it too when we were in the indoor.  She lunged sound and looks perfect on the straight-away, even when being trotted on hard ground.  However, when lunged in a tight circle (the only type of circle there's room for) on the gravel drive, she's a bit off.  Hopefully she just bumped herself, or maybe torqued it a bit.  It could also be an abscess... but we're keeping our fingers crossed that's not what it is.  And anytihng worse than an abscess, I don't even want to consider.

RF- Rider Fall
Most eventers probably understood the second pair of letters right away... and yes, I fall off.  At last weekend's competition, I took a tumble out xc.  It was a silly fall- we were supposed to be jumping a ditch loc. in the middle of a coffin.  Cadence was busy gawking at the first fence of the coffin (which we did not have to jump... so its much scarier) and got surprised by the ditch & leaped to the side.  I... did not.  I tried to cling on, because I was determined to finish the course, and not get eliminated from our second event in a row... but it was not to be.  As soon as I hit the dirt, my first thought was 'why do we have that stupid one fall rule?' Please note, I don't actually think the rule is stupid.  I understand why its in place, and agree with it most of the time.  However, when you've had a wee tumble, are clearly not hurt, and really just want to school your horse over that damn ditch?  Its one hell of a frustrating rule.
On a lighter note, the questions the paramedics have to ask you are down right hilarious.  After the initial pleasantries (incliding why you fall, where you fall, how you fall, etc.) I got asked questions like:
1) Are you drunk?  No.
2) Are you on drugs? No...
3) Is your horse on drugs? Um, no.
4) Are you on your horses drugs? Really???
5) is your horse on your drugs? Didn't I just tell you  I wasn't on drugs?  What is my horse going to be on? Tylenol?
Apparently I was giving the paramedics an "Are YOU on drugs?" kind of a look because he started laughing and informed me that they were mandated to ask me these questions.  Just saying though, if I were high on my horses drugs do you really think I'd tell you that?

XC- Cross Country
I'm pretty sure everyone got that one.  So the day after I fall off, Cadence and I headed up to a lovely facility for a xc school.  Why not?  The place was gorgeous- the ideal schooling facility for babies up to training/prelim.  Cadence was hot, fit, and having fun, but stayed sane throughout the day.  We warmed up over a wee tiny (2'3) log that she scoffed at.  Apparently we're past those things... according to her anyway.  Then moved on to a wee wee wee tiny bank that we were supposed to jump down.  It was 18 inches at most, but according to the mare it was the most terrifying 18" object EVER!  She refused. I kicked, smacked, and yelled.  She jumped. That was pretty much the last issue we had all day.
The school in itself was a great learning experiene for me.  I ride a mare that has her gas pedal glued to the floor.  She LOVES to go.  Since I bought her, all of our jumping work has been on keeping things slow and in control... and that's still a struggle for us some times.  So for me to let go and push her at something?  It feels like the most unnatural thing in the world.  Most of my xc experience (all but one ride...) has been on this mare.  I've learned everything along with her, and while I would do nothing differently were I given the opportunity to do it all over again, there's no denying that its hard work to train yourself and an energetic, opinionated, hot, athletic youngster at the same time.  Giving in and pushing her as hard as I can at an obstacle?  Its like telling yourself its okay to jump out of an airplane- it feels unnatural.  I'm always afraid she'll end up too fast, will stop at the last second, I'll go flying, and (most importantly) she'll get hurt/ruined.  But what I've had to learn is that there's a difference between riding aggressively and riding fast, and that xc won't always be picturesque and pretty.
A good example of this is when at one point in the school, we were asked to jump a large ditch to a bank.  Banks are the one thing out xc that worry me.  I'm terrified my horse will just 'splat' up them.  The bank was probably 2'6 ish, and there were only three strides between the ditch and the bank, AND they were on an angle.  Cadence and I jumped the ditch, but it was clear there was no way in hell we were going to be putting three strides in.  It was two or nothing. Panicking that she'd get there in a long, flat, strung out canter (and thus 'splat' up the bank) if we did it in two, I turned her away.  BAD KATE!!! I know, I know.  After a good yelling from my coach, we did it again.  And again... and again.  Every time, we put in two strides. And every time, she jumped it beautifully.  Lesson learned: trust your horse.  Give them the best ride you can, and let them do the rest.  It may not be pretty, but (providing  they have the ability/scope necessary for the problem ) let THEM figure it out.

Oh, and Cadence jumped her first drop into water, and competently completed her first coffin complex like it was nothing! I wish I had a video... the jumps weren't tiny either!

Stadium Round Pics (Oct 2012)


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another Eventing Video...

... but this one includes both stadium and cross country!
Video from our last event... Pre-Training (novice) level

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dressage in the Fall Leaves

A large part of the reason I was so excited for last weekend's event is because of the leaves.  The fall colours are so gorgeous!

See what I mean?  Brilliant.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Stadium Video & Cadence's First PT Level Event

Cadence at her first Pre-Training (Novice) HT.  Her dressage was quite good considering the weather, her stadium was brilliant (though we got 1.5 time & almost had a rail), and her xc started really well.  The course was huge, and contained a ditch, bank, turning question, trakehner, jump out of water, jump at the top of a hill (couldn't see landing) and a huge brush galloping fence.  She started out great.  Neatly over the first two fences, bold over the scary flowering log in the tree line, up the hill & neatly around the turning question (though she had a flip fit about one of the prelim or intermediate jumps as we ran past it up the hill...) and strong over the ditch.  I think that one surprised her a bit... I was working relatively hard to get her back and she was too busy fighting me to notice the ditch until she was already half way over it!! Just like at champs.  Seems to be our recipe for ditch success.  Then, we were on to the bank which was the bottom ledge of a set of steps located at the top of a steep hill, leading down to the tree line.  You had to cut in, jump down the bank (couldn't see the ground.... the hill was truly very steep) and get control back quickly for a sharp turn to the next fence, loc. at the bottom of the hill. 

Cadence didn't want to come back after jumping the ditch, and by the time I'd finally gotten her back into the trot, we were at the top of the hill.  I probably definately came in too weak.  She took one look at the ledge and into the chasm of impending doom that awaited her, and backed right on up the hill.  Not what I was going for.  Anyway, to make a long story short, I wasn't able to get her down it.  It's frustrating, especially since we'd had such a good round up to that point.  However, it was my fault that we were eliminated- I was high on getting over that chasm of a ditch (seriously, it was easily 2'3 deep & 2'6 across) and not expecting her to react the way she did to the bank.  She was so forward and strong, I completely under rode her.  Ah well... its a learning experience.  I just dislike the fact that we had to end on a refusal.