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.