Thursday, November 21, 2013


I need to keep this short, as I've got a paper due in a few hours, a physio appointment, and a physics test all before 4:30 this afternoon. Time's a ticking! Anywho, I've been stalling on posting recently in part because my time is at a premium right now, but largely because I've had SO much to write about its hard to know where to start.
My life at present is a chaotic mix of life as a science student, rider/trainer for one 8 y/o Holsteiner x TB mare  and two 3 y/o Hanoverian x TB geldings, stable hand on the weekends, and a person who tries to be a good friend. I ride around 7-8 times a week, work at the barn from 8am-4pm on Sundays, attend clinics/shows roughly every other weekend, take a lesson once a week, spend approx 45 mins a week in physio (now reduced to 20 mins. Yeah!) spend at least 50% of my time getting distracted & doing things I shouldn't... (oops!) and fill every spare moment with sleep. I REALLY love my sleep :)

While I know I need to introduce the two babies I mentioned up above, what I really wanted to talk about today was something I started thinking about after reading OnTheBit's post, If I had a million dollars. One of the seemingly unavoidable parts of student life is being a little strapped for cash. I only work one day a week, and don't even make minimum wage (probably not the best use of my time, but it beats McDonalds any day) so my money is split between gas, groceries, and savings. The savings part is admittedly occasionally blown on a chocolate bar though.... ;) Especially with Christmas coming, there are occasionally times when I get a bit worried thinking about how I'll be able to afford Christmas presents for people, or panicking about whether or not I'll be able to participate in the barn's Secret Santa, but to be perfectly honest I've never felt sorry for myself because I couldn't afford something. For example, Cadence has a teeny tiny head, which fits neatly on the second last hole of a cob bridle. Because she also has two bits (technically three, we have a XC and a SJ bit, but the one's not exactly in use at the moment!) I re-purposed my old pony's bridle so that we have a jumping bridle as well. The issue is that the flash attachment on that bridle is so tiny, no normal flash fits through it & I lost the original, so I stole the flash & removable flash attachment off of my horse bridle and duct-taped them on to the pony bridle. Pretty? No. Functional? Yes. Can I afford to buy the figure-8 bridle I desperately want so that I don't have to ride in a duct-taped bridle? No, I literally don't have enough money in my bank account to buy it. But for some strange reason, this really doesn't concern me.
Another example- up until 2 weeks ago, I had one pair of non-show breeches that weren't riddled with holes so badly that  you could either see my underwear, or I got a blood blister from where my thigh came in direct contact with the saddle via the fist-sized hole in my breeches. But this never really bothered me. I just bided my time until I could find a sale on a nice pair of good quality breeches that actually fit me. It took over a year, but I was rewarded with beautiful $130 full seats on sale for $55! Maybe the reason my lack of cash never really bothered me is because I know that if I were desperate, my family would swoop in and save me without a second thought... but I think it has more to do with the fact that in spite of having slightly less cash than would be ideal, I feel so incredibly lucky for what I do have that frequently feel as though I don't deserve it. I have an incredible horse whose talent I am only beginning to appreciate now, I have the privilege of riding two wonderful baby ponies basically whenever I feel like it, I have a supportive family, wonderful friends, an incredible coach, and parents who bend over backwards on a regular basis to try and help me achieve my goals. How is it possible I could deserve all of this? Yes I work hard for what I have, but really, who could blame me for feeling pretty damn lucky?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lateral Lessons

We've now left the 'show' portion of our year, and are heading back in to the 'training' portion. Dressage clinics are being scheduled, gymnastic grids assembled, and tack is being fiddled with. While I love showing, I find re-entering the training phase of our year (for lack of a better term...) always re-enthuses me. Trying out new exercises, focusing on new issues or new ways of dealing with old ones, and pushing our training ahead just seems to fill fall with so many new opportunities!
Anyway, I'm currently knee-deep in midterms, so I've got to keep this short. I just wanted to write a quick recap of our dressage lesson today, and try to get back into the habit of chronicling our training- I've been slacking on that front of late.

For today's lesson, I borrowed a friend's eggbutt snaffle. Its a relatively thick one, which Cadence seemed to approve of, but the strength provided by the nutcracker action of the single-jointed snaffle & the pressure of the eggbutt gave me a little bit of extra strength to stop her when she decides to plow through me. After a w/t stretch warm up, we moved into the lateral work starting with riding turn on the haunches to nose-to-wall leg yield. The first turn on the haunches (left) was lovely, the leg-yield was decent if a bit rushed, but to the right Cadence objected to my aid to move her haunches over, and kicked the arena wall instead... charming, mare. We worked through this exercise several more times until we had more consistent & relaxed movements. The pirouettes right were still a fair bit more difficult than to the left, but they improved bit by bit. We proceeded to shoulder & haunches in in the trot, which rode quite nicely save for one or two rude mare moments, and then we moved on to the half pass. I was actually quite impressed with Cadence here. We've worked on half pass maybe a half-dozen times at most, and for the most part its been a little like attempting to make a slinky half pass. You'd get some shoulder, and then the haunches would go zooming off, so you'd correct that, but then she'd grab the bit & barge her shoulders out.. or something along those lines. Though the half pass work today wasn't exactly show ring ready, I could aim her shoulders, ask for her haunches, and then stay fairly quiet as we bounced our way over towards the wall.  No bolting, no fighting, no rushing madly off in all directions. What a novel concept! (Actually, in fairness to the mare she's not that bad. I probably make her sound like some atrociously mannered evil mastermind. In reality, she's just a wee bit too dominant for her (or my) own good!) Due to the small size of our indoor, one of the best tips my coach gave me re the half pass, was to ride shoulder fore through the turn. That way we're already partially set up by the time we're on the centre line.
Our canter work wasn't at its best today, but again it wasn't bad. My legs are pretty sore ATM, so I probably wasn't giving her all the support I could have, but our first few canter-trots left were a little sketchy. My coach suggested we do some canter walks to get Cadence to actually come under herself, and stop barging through up front. And so we canter-walked, corrected her haunches, and walk-cantered until we had a more respectful mare. At this point, we cantered right (and executed some absolutely lovely transitions up and down) before re-trying the canter-trots to the left. Much to my pleasure, we had a respectful transition! YAY! So we quit on that note. Overall, I ended the lesson pleased with the mare-face, and quite excited for what the winter has in store for us!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back to Blogging & Upgrades

With the  start of fall comes the start of a regular schedule... kind of... and hopefully a resurgence in my blogging. I've learned that a lot of the activities I do throughout the year (playing flute, guitar, juggling, blogging, baking, etc.) are done to mitigate stress, and to be honest quite often to procrastinate. Anywho, as I'm back to putting off work hopefully I'll be back to writing my own blog, and reading & commenting on everyone else's.  For today, I just wanted to do a short write up on my thoughts on upgrading Cadence to Training:

So those who've stuck around for a while probably remember that last fall Cadence had several good runs at Entry (BN) and was starting to get bored at the level, so we tried to upgrade to Pre-Training (N)... and ended up getting eliminated at a bank out xc, and then I fall off at our last event. Oops! However, I've once again found myself close to the end of the season with a horse who is basically bored at novice, and has schooled all of the elements of a training course, and even hopped a few prelim fences. However, the last thign I want to do right now is upgrade too early and scare her. There are two events left this season: an 'easier' one that's generally considered a good upgrade course, and a 'challenging' one whose courses are always maxed out in both stadium and cross. I don't want to put unnecessary miles on Cadence, and run her at PT when really she should be going T, but I'm nervous about upgrading her too soon. I've walked the training course (from last year) at the upgrade event, and Cadence wouldn't likely have an issue with any of it. However, even though we've schooled a lot of training complexes, she's never run a full course so its difficult to know how she'd react.

Here's a video of last year's training course at the upgrade event:
(for some reason, Blogger isn't letting me put the actual clip in, so here's the link)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Silent Saturday- Champs in Photos

 Fit two strides in the two stride this year!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Ignore Your Blog 101

Step 1:
Be really busy (though not as busy as you are for the other 3/4 of the year) and dedicate what little leftover time you have to sleeping, eating, visiting friends/family, and watching movies; all of which (save for eating) will likely not happen again until next summer.

Step 2:
Ignore your laptop because its old, and frustrating. Et voila, you've just successfully ignored your blog as well!

Training bank combo (bank up-1 stride-drop-turn-skinny)


Other pony

Skinny (from bank complex... Cadence's first XC skinny. It was at most 2' at the base!)

Show jumping

Me on Balance Rock (family wedding/trip to Bar Harbor, ME)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, July 8, 2013


Wow, I just booted up my laptop for the first time in almost 3 weeks! Between funerals, graduation ceremonies, weddings, and the trips & travel time required to make it to all of those, I've had a busy few weeks.  On top of that there was the stress of moving Cadence, and then on Saturday she went and cut open her hoof, creating a nice deep gash on her coronet.  Oh mare.
Second fence on our Novice xc course
Since I've taken zero time to keep up my 'Cadence diary' of late, let me do a quick fill-in.  Cadence ran around a few Entry (BN) level events this spring to get her xc confidence through the roof, and then two or three weeks ago we (re)upgraded her to Pre-Training (N) and she stormed around that xc course! Hopped up the bank, plowed through the half-coffin, conquered the bending brush line, and didn't hesitate at the awkwardly placed jump that was invisible until you were 2 strides away. What's even better? We ran around xc with more control than I think we've ever had! I could balance her by sitting up, turn by shifting my weight, and slow down with a little (okay, maybe not always quite so little...) half-halt.  Go mare! Our dressage is still a bit rough... scoring high 50's when the winners tend to be mid-high 40's.... but the potential's there, she's just getting excited/frazzled/bossy before we even enter the ring. So we're playing around with warm-ups to try and find something that works.
Classy pony scoffing at 3'11 during our last ride at the old barn.
(I swear, my elbows don't normally look like that!)
In other news, Cadence is settling in well at the new barn.  We've had 2 lessons, and things seem to be going well. I still miss our old farm like crazy, but we'll adjust! We're also heading out for a xc school tomorrow, which should boost our spirits a bit ;)

Monday, June 17, 2013


Gotta get a little Bowie in here ;)

Generally speaking, I'm a person that looks forward to change. I like new adventures, and new beginnings & such, and as change is intrinsically tied to newness, I (generally speaking) really enjoy change. I really enjoyed researching new barns, going on barn tours, and having all the fun (and not so fun) experiences that go with that. But when the time came to talk to my current BO, tell her that I'd found a place to move Cadence to, and that we would be leaving... I found myself no longer liking these changes so much. To be blunt, after getting off the phone with my BO I found myself in tears. I'm not a teary person, so to break down about something so trivial (compared to the situations that would normally reduce me to tears) seemed a bit dramatic. But holding it together through that phone call was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I know that our 'goodbye' isn't a 'goodbye forever'.  I'm leaving my barn on great terms with everyone, as most sane people won't begrudge you when you move your horse for school/work, and I plan on trailering Cadence back to (my current) barn for some long-lining lessons over the summer, so its not like I'll never see these people again either. Still, it's the end of an important chapter of my life and its end coincides with the close of a number of other major chapters in my life. Though I'm not nearly as cut up over them as I am about moving barns ;)

Anywho, for anyone curious about where we're moving:
After touring several more barns (either in person or via my friend), none of which were up to snuff, I decided to cut my losses where arena size is concerned and move to Barn 1 from my Barn Tour Post. I like the quality of care, love the facility (aside from the indoor, which is only slightly larger than a 20x40 dressage ring), and feel that I can actually trust these people with my baby.  The limitations the indoor provides probably means that this probably won't be a long term farm solution for us, as eventually the small indoor is going to start impeding our training... but its sufficient for lengthens, lateral work, and grids, so we'll make do for now. Overall I'm quite happy with the decision, and I think it'll work out nicely. But I think it'll take a while to 'get over' having to move from my current barn.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Quick Mid-Exam Update

I'm currently buried under a pile of end-of year/exam work, not to mention a pile of kleenex & cough medicine.... nothing beats getting sick during exam time! Anyway, I've got a bunch of little updates to post but no time to write them in, so you probably won't hear anything from me for the next week and a half or so. In the mean time, I leave you with this:
What a cute cuddly little pony :)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Barn Tours

So those who read this blog regularly will remember that back in March, we ran into some issues with barns when my coach and my barn owner had a falling out that resulted in my coach having to move her horse, and basically being told that after a month's time, she wasn't allowed to coach at the farm any more.  That whole situation was absolutely awful, and I found it difficult to be caught in between two people that you have a lot of respect for, and wondering who is right and who's wrong in this situation. Anyway, rather than move Cadence immediately, I chose to stay at my current farm for the time being and trailer out for lessons.  This situation has (to put it bluntly) sucked, but it seemed to be the best choice.  The reason being that in September, Cadence would have to move anyway, as I have to move for school.  The thing is, the school I'm studying at is just over an hour away from where I currently live, so what I decided to do was leave Cadence where she is for now, and come July/August, I'll move her to the barn that she'll be living in when I start school in the fall, and commute to the barn for the summer. That said, that plan only really works if the barn I move her to is on the near-side of the city we're moving to versus the far side, as I can't really afford to spend 3.5 hours a day driving to and from the barn. Thankfully my top barn picks have all been around 1h from where I currently live. So while 'commuting' to the barn isn't exactly ideal, this way Cadence only has to move once.
Anywho, the real point of this post is to give a brief write-up on my top barn picks, so here goes:

The barn and arena as viewed from one of the individual turnout paddocks.
Barn 1- 
Board: Moderate ($15 less than our current barn)
Distance: 14 minutes
Facility: Indoor, outdoor, lots of hacking via neighbor's hay field & forests, option of oak board or electric fencing
Pros: I went to visit this barn today, and I absolutely loved it.  The owners, a husband and wife duo, seemed exceedingly particular about their horse's care, but not in that 'over the top coddle them to death' type way.  They do turnout in pairs or groups of 3 (or individually upon request), have more paddocks than herds so they can rotate them, have 4 different types of feed (plus beetpulp) that they customize the rations of for each horse, the facility is fully fenced, they get their hay from the neighbor's hay field (after the hay's all tested, that is) which their property backs on to, and which we're allowed to hack through, the stalls are all light, bright, airy, and well ventilated, and they all come equipped with bowl-type automatic waterers (versus the ones the horses have to push to get water). The owners do everything themselves, aside from mucking out, so they are the ones interacting with the horses on a daily basis. I love the fact that I know exactly who is feeding, turning out, and monitoring my horse, rather than having "staff" caring for her.
Cons: This facility does have one flaw- the indoor is tiny.  To be honest, I think I'd move in today if it weren't for the size of the indoor.  I don't mind a small arena, if it means quality care. I put my horse's needs above mine, in that respect. But there's small, and then there's too small... and its hard to tell what too small is until you've ridden in it. So I'm a bit stuck with that one. The arena has to be large enough that its functional for us to train in, and to be honest I'm not sure it is. My only other issue is that their barn hours are 11am to 9pm. The 9pm doesn't bother me, but I like to ride in the morning and used to ride every morning before school, so the 11am part is a bit of a nuisance. Obviously this doesn't apply for shows, but I'd have to see if they'd be comfortable with me having one set day a week where I came in earlier, if my schedule necessitated it.

Interior of the 'small' barn where we'd be boarding
Barn 2-
Board: expencive
Distance: 17 minutes
Facility: Massive dust free indoor, large outdoor, groomed track, miles of hacking on property
Pros: This barn has a gorgeous facility. Massive dust free indoor with ridiculously nice footing- the type with the felt strips- huge outdoor, a track (!!!) that's groomed regularly, and miles of groomed trails right on the property. The small barn (where we'd be boarding) looks lovely and airy, with large well kept stalls. Their feed program is good, and the hay is good quality. The property is massive, so they should have ample turnout, but I haven't been able to ask about their specific turnout program yet. It also has the advantage of being the same barn my coach has one of her horses at, which is handy.
Cons: The board is expensive.  Plus, they charge extra on top of that for booting and blanketing, and to be honest, I'm not 100% sure the service is quite worth the cash... it's almost $100/month more than where I currently board when you factor in boots and blankets, and aside from the dust free indoor, I'm not sure I'm really getting much of an upgrade.  The owner of the horse my coach has at this place (who boards in the ultra expensive main barn) also expressed some concerns with staffing and care, which in my opinion should NOT be happening when she's shelling out $800 a month for board. If you're billing your facility as a 'premium' facility, and charging the cash for it, you should be providing 'premium' care. However, the facility is still new, so the issue could be chalked up to them just ironing out the kinks, and I haven't had the chance to go on an official tour and chat with the stable manager yet & ask her questions myself, so I'm reserving judgement for the time being.  All the horses looked well cared for and everything, so I don't think there are any major concerns... I just get nervous when there are multiple people looking after my horse.

This picture isn't great, but that's the indoor arena of barn 3
Barn 3-
Board: moderate
Distance: 16 minutes
Facility: large indoor, outdoor, hacking on property, oak board fencing
Pros: I haven't had the chance to tour this facility yet, and I also don't know if they allow outside coaches, but they're a H/J barn with a good reputation that's nice and close and apparently has a stall open so I figured it was worth a shot.  They (from what I understand) have lovely large paddocks, but I don't think any are fenced with electric, a large indoor, a large outdoor, and hacking on property.  I haven't been able to find any pictures of the interior of the barn (aside from a few newborn foal pics that show the bottom 3 feet of a stall...) so I can't say much about it, but overall it looks nice and has a decent reputation.
Cons: they have a lesson program. Which means having to work around lesson times. D: Although this definitely wouldn't be the end of the world, it isn't exactly ideal either, but other than that I can't really state the pros and cons until I've seen the place.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jump Daze

In an attempt to manage the mare's new energy & fitness levels, and maximize our schools, we've re-worked our schedule a little. I've grouped the jump schools together and the flat schools & hacks together, with every flat school being preceded by either a hack or lunge day. This way she never flats after a day off, and hopefully grouping flat & jump schools will allow us to build off the previous day's work more effectively.

We had our first set of jump schools on Mon & Tues, and Cadence was brilliant. Monday we hopped through a gymnastic, set at 18 to 21 (a tight 1 to a tight 1) with the final jump being raised to over 4'

My goal for the ride was primarily to focus on Cadence's straightness, and my form. However we also focused a bit on responsiveness and my 'after ride' from the fences. Overall it was a great ride, but I noticed the biggest difference the next day when I had a polite, responsive, and engaged horse. Yay!
Yesterday we kept it pretty simple. We hopped over some tiny (2'3) verticals on a serpentine to work on lead changes and pace, and then cantered over a single 3' vertical, focusing on rhythm & pace, and staying balanced & not barging off on the right lead. We also hopped over one angled fence which Cadence jumped like it was at least 8'wide! But she was polite & sand about it, so we just moved on. Overall, it was a great 2 rides.

Cadence chilling in the indoor while I set up jumps :)

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Testing...Testing... 1 2 3

So before our last show, Cadence and I trailered out to another farm so that we could run through a few tests in their dressage ring.  A 'get your head back in the game' type experience, aimed at brushing off the cobwebs built up over the winter.  And although the Mare-Face was a little hot headed, she was (overall) pretty damn good.  Until we got half way through the first test. At that point in time, she had a series of mini-meltdowns over basic things like trotting a circle, doing a medium walk, and riding walk-trot transitions.  Fun times. Eventually she settled a bit, and we finished on a positive note thinking that these mid-test meltdowns would soon be left behind.
Unfortunately, at our show the next day, we basically had a repeat of the previous day's test.  Cadence was quite good (a bit tense, but we were in the ring next to the scary forest of doom...) and got predominantly 8s, with the odd 7 thrown in for the first half of the test.  And then, she melted down. Again. I rode through it as well as I could, and my coach agreed that I'd basically made the best of the situation, but most of the second half of the test was pretty abysmal.  6's, a few 5's, and a 4 for good measure.  The judge did say that she was a lovely mover and had a very 'active and engaged' hind end though.... but the coach & I felt that some remedial test work would be necessary, as we were basically 0 for 3 in terms of dressage tests.
So yesterday we trailered over to a local farm (that also happens to be my favourite place to school because they have a separate jumper course, hunter course, dressage ring, schooling ring, and lesson ring all readily available) to use their dressage ring and work out our test issues.. but lo and behold, Cadence was brilliant.  She was coming off of 4 days solid work (Stretch, jump, lunge, flat) but she was still hot and energetic- enough so that I lunged her before we even put er on the trailer.  But she warmed out of it and put in two lovely tests. We rode Entry (BN) test 2 and Training 2, and aside from a little tension in the middle of Entry 2 that she worked out of in 1 or 2 movements, the tests were brilliant.  So here's hoping the sound check's over, and our testing is now back on track!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Catching Up on Lessons and Shows

Lets go in chronological order. First up I have the video from last weeks show:
I have footage of the dressage warm up, but the video was long enough as it is & the footage was basically just me riding poorly as I attempted to navigate puddles and the hill we were warming up on (we warmed up on a hill because it was the only dry-ish place to ride) her spooking at stuff as we attempted to warm up on a hill. Overall, a pretty unsuccessful warm up so the awful quality of the test doesn't really surprise me.
XC is also a bit of an awkward moment, as we'd basically caught up to the horse in front of us and I wasn't sure what the etiquette was in that situation, since the jump judges hadn't held them to let us pass.... so we just trotted since we were a bit up on the clock anyway, and you get faults for being too fast.

Next- we had a lesson with my coach at a farm I used to ride at when I was a kid! It was fun being back there and seeing some of the old lesson ponies, but it was REALLY fun to get to take advantage of the awesome facility they've got.  We warmed up in their massive jumper ring, before heading over and schooling some tests in their full 20x60 dressage ring.... which is next to their grass ring, which is next to their XC field, which is near their massively long indoor, which looks out onto their front (outdoor) lesson ring.  Also, the part I really love about this facility is that for a facility with 5 fully functional arenas and a XC field, they're quite a small operation. Off topic though. So I digress- the lesson was really helpful, and we spent most of our time focusing on isolating the ideal warm-up.  What we've discovered is that as Cadence gets more training and matures into a fit, somewhat hot-headed, highly opinionated event horse, we need a MUCH different warm up than our minimalist warm ups of yesteryear.  Basically, we need a 'chill out and let off some steam' period in which we basically just trot around focusing on relaxing into the contact.  Then we need a 'stretch and relax' period, and then a 'okay, pick back up and supple' phase completes our pre-dressage test warm up.  However, those three phases each take 10-15 minutes minimum, so you've got a solid 45 minutes of work before every dressage test were before we had maybe 10-15.

Finally, on Saturday I got up at 3:30am to go haul my horse to our show. This meant that on Saturday morning, I woke up at the same time I went to bed the previous night! Which is not a fun experience.  And over those two nights, only managed a total of 6 hours of sleep. So I was really freaking exhausted, not to mention somewhat unenthused about driving 2.5 hours to a horse show for my crack of dawn start time. Next time I have early ride times (and parties in the days before my shows) I need to make sure I have someone who can drive the trailer up for me so I'm not so worried about falling asleep at the wheel! I made my poor mum (who'd come along to help me at the show) play 'guess that tune' with me on my phone for most of the 2.5 hour drive up and the 2.5 hour drive home, since that was just about the only thing that would keep me awake.  It was fun times.  I was even nodding off as we stood by the start box waiting to go out XC!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quick Show Recap

In the midst of the insanity that is my life, blogging should be the last thing I have time for... and yet here I am at 11:30 at night, blogging. Anyway, first show of the season was last Sat.  The weather was gross- cold and rainy- and as a result the dressage and stadium rings were absolute soup.  The dressage warm up ring was so bad (like 4inches of water on top of 6 inches of mud) we decided to warm up on a semi-flat, relatively dry hill near the dressage rings.  Cadence wasn't too thrilled with this arrangement, and I never managed to fully unlock her neck and body.  Then, we had a major freak out at something as we were trotting around the dressage ring, so Cadence was would up heading into the test, and she was NOT happy with the footing in the ring, which was shoe-sucking mud that splattered all the way up to my thighs as we trotted and cantered through it. All in all, it was the worst dressage test we've ever done.  We cantered on one of our trot circles, almost missed one of our walk transitions it was so late, and jogged through our free walk.  Also, I was so focused on trying to get her to walk for the free walk, I rode MXK across the diagonal instead of BXE, which was what was in the test. Oops! In spite of that, we got what has to be the nicest comment I've ever gotten from a judge. Her comment was "You have a talented horse, and are a talented rider. The conditions are awful, and as a result the marks on the test don't reflect that talent.  It isn't really fair, but I have to mark what  I'm gievn." :)
So after dressage I had less than one hour to walk stadium (which was a solid 10 minute walk away... minimum) change clothes, change tack, and warm up.  I ended up hopping on Cadence 12 minutes before our ride time (!!!) and trotting down to the stadium ring, which turned out to be a great decision, as the footing on the jog over was way better than the rings! Anyway, they were running 2 minutes behind, so we arrived in time for  tack check, a quick canter, and to hop over 4 or 5 warm up fences. Clearly this type of warm up suits Cadence really well, as we had the nicest warm up and by far the best stadium course we've EVER had! It was like I was riding a trained horse... how odd!  Unfortunately, this new found sanity didn't carry over into XC. Cadence was bold, which was good, but she was strong as hell and by the time we were galloping to fence 4 I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it to the fence, let alone finish the 16 fence course! Alas, somehow I managed to stay on, and not get killed in the process. Cadence took most of the 2'9 fences as speed bumps, and was quick enough that I had to pull her back to trot for a section, as we'd caught up to the horse in front of us (who brought home 20 time faults).
Overall though, it was a great show & I won my first truly green ribbon! All my other 5th place ribbons are aqua, or various semi-green colours.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spring XC Schools

A video of our XC school last Sunday. We had a brilliant time, and it was fun to see how bold & confident Cadence was.  The big lesson of the day for me was to 'release' Cadence completely before the fences, and trust her to 1. not rush the fence in the last 2 strides, and 2. actually jump the fence!  It was a challenge for me because I've spent our whole partnership with me constantly focusing on slowing her down so  relinquishing that control and just letting her go was like breaking every habit I've formed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Riding in the Rain

"The difference between determination and stupidity is knowing when to stop"
Many variations on the above quote have been penned and spoken, but I have no idea by whom. Regardless, I tend to trip neatly over the boundary for determination and fall face first into stupid. Why is this on my mind? Because my determination to ride outside over the weekend meant I spent Sunday schooling dressage in the pouring rain.
The footing in the outdoor was the best its been since last summer, with almost 2/3 of the ring being good and the other 1/3 being decent if a bit soggy. Personally, I have a bit of a paranoia of tendon-sucking footing and thus tend to be very picky about where I ride & when. But my determination to ride outside allowed me to (temporarily) put aside that fear.
So Saturday I had to ride inside because we were jumping, and starting Monday it was supposed to rain all week. So in my mind, Sunday afternoon was going to br my only chance to make it out before the outdoor was once again unrideable. However, I couldn't go out to the barn till Rolex show jumping was finished, and by the time the awards ceremony was over the storm clouds had rolled in.
The first drops of rain fall as I drove out to the barn, and as I tacked up the drizzle turned to full on rain. Still, it was far from a torrential downpour... so I popped on my dressage saddle, apologized profusely to it for what it was about to endure, and walked out of the barn. I should probably add that I was without any type of rain gear, aside from an old helmet cover that I dug up to save my velvet cap from being ruined, so we were thoroughly unprepared to face the elements.  Anywho, in spite of getting completely drenched, we actually had a brilliant ride.  We got awesome canter-trot transitions, Cadence was (for the most part) really steady in the contact, and aside from being a bit dull to lateral aids from my right leg, she was light & responsive to my aids. The canter work itself was perhaps a little more gawky than I would have liked, as she was a wee bit prone to distraction, but really there wasn't much to complain about.  So overall, in spite of getting rather soaked, we actually had a brilliant ride. And afterward my dressage saddle got a thorough cleaning & oiling as an appology ;)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Gymnastic Time

Recently, Cadence has been pretty strong in her jumping work. Which isn't to say she was bad; its kind of like she's just constantly pushing. Rather than having relaxation in our jumping work, she was always pushing, pushing, pushing. On the one hand, this is a good thing. She's eager, engaged, and jumping really well, but there was also a bit of disregard for rider input in our work as well. She had it in her head how things were supposed to be done, and that was that.
So my goal going into our jump school today was to have a more elastic & responsive horse at the end of our ride. One of the new boarders brought some of those cavaletti box standards with her which are awesomely light, but their max height is like 2' or 2'3, which kind of limits their usefulness! Anywho, I wanted to try to use as many of them as possible, as it just makes jumping so much easier. So with that & my goal for our ride in mind, I decided to do a simple 1-stride gymnastic with a vertical, to a low-wide oxer to a larger vertical. Great exercise for the mare as she has to constantly change her form, and since I set it a bit tight (17' to 20') she would really need to rock back ' use herself.
Cadence warmed up well, & was perfectly ladylike while we hopped back & forth over our cross rail, but got a bit energetic & strong once we started to actually jump. I should probably point out that when I say she's energetic &strong, to an outsider she probably looks perfectly normal. She doesn't bolt off or rush fences or anything. Its more like she puts way more force than is necessary into everything- every jump, every transition, etc. is infused with excess energy, and sometimes tension, but I digress. So we started with the final vertical at 3'-3'3, but the exercise wasn't really achieving the desired goal, so I popped the vertical up a few holes & we jumped through it again. This time, Cadence was brilliant! Its like she needs the extra height to focus... Anywho, the final dimensions for the oxer were 4' wide by 2'3 tall, and the vertical was 4' tall.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out and About

With show season just around the corner, Cadence and I have been trying to get off property & get some stadium schooling done. Unfortunately, a combination of awful weather & busy schedules has prevented us from going xc yet, but I'm trying my best to limit how much I complain about the weather, so lets move on.
We were able to trailer out for a SJ school last Sunday, in spite of the rather cold (read: below freezing) and very wet weather, and hopefully we'll be able to head over to another friends farm this Friday to get some more jumping work in Although we have jumps at home, we don't really have the capacity to set courses & such out, so these spring stadium schools are really important for us to practice our course work!

Last Sunday's school actually went really well. There were 3 large puddles in the farm's jumper ring (which conveniently had the nicest footing of all of their outdoors that day) but aside from that the footing was actually quite nice- well drained & not sloppy at all. So we just avoided the puddles (at first at least) and started our warm up. Cadence had decided that the one end of the ring, where the jump cart & a wheelbarrow were located, was clearly trying to eat her... so we spent most of our warm ip focusing on that corner. Cadence is a bit unique in that if she has an issue with something, the ONLY way to address it is immediately. You probably won't be able to convince her that whatever she's worrying about is undeserving of her mistrust or consternation, but at least you stand a chance. If you ignore the issue and attempt to continue her work in another area, she uses the time to build up her fear and anxiety to epic proportions, so if you plan on staying on... scary objects/corners must be addressed immediately.
Anyway, mare-face warmed up a bit jittery but sane. We had breaks & steering, so what more can you ask for? The actual jumping part went pretty well too. We started off just jumping one fence on a circle until that was sane, and them moved on to some course work. The first two courses were acceptable, but not exactly put together. However, after that Cadence and I seemed to hit our stride, literally and figuratively. We did hairpin turns, intense roll-backs, awesome angled fences, and I gave up on avoiding the puddles so we splashed straight through those too :) The only real issue we had was that Cadence really wanted to lay on me, especially on that right rein, and it took some pretty harsh corrections to get her off of it. Overall though it was a really great school & affirmed my decision to ride in a jumper show or two this summer!

*as a side note, all of this was typed on my phone. Sorry for the general lack of editing (not that ver edit this to begin with) & for all the typos that are probably in here!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Adventure Time: Spring Hacks

Note: this is an old post (from last Wed) that didn't want to upload the first time I tried.

Yesterday I trailered Cadence out to a place just 15-20 minutes down the road from us that I used to ride in all the time as a kid. As its spring, the ground was a bit wet and we spent a fair bit of our time walking along the main gravel path versus off in the forest, but we still had a blast. Over all we walked around the park for nearly an hour before turning around just in time to arrive home as the sun was setting :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Issues With Blogger

Recently I've been having a bunch of issues with posts I think I've posted not appearing on my blog.  It tends to be posts with photos done from my phone that aren't showing up, so I think it may have something to do with trying to upload larger files from my phone.  Nonetheless, the issue's starting to really frustrate me.  Does anyone (who uses an iPhone) have any blogging apps they'd recommend? I've heard good things about BlogPress, but am hesitant to spend my money on it unless its really worth it. Admittedly it is only $2.99... but if it's no better than what I get for free, that's three bucks that could be better spent!

Monday, April 15, 2013

"Light as Air"

Time is of the essence on this one, so pardon the briefness. Saturday morning, amidst a weekend full of concerts (and an unfortunate hospital visit...) I managed to find time for a quick riding lesson- the last I'll ever have at my current farm :(
On a brighter note though, the lesson was brilliant. Cadence warmed up in the loveliest stretch trot, complete with lateral and longitudinal suppleness, and didn't take advantage of my lengthened reins once! When the actual work started, we focused on keeping her soft and light through transitions: within the gait, into and out of the trot, in & out of lateral work, etc. At the moment, Cadence will cruise around softly and light as a feather until you ask for a change... at which point she tenses up a bit until she can decide how she feels about what you're asking her to do next. This tension tends to be largely longitudinal, and if I can half-halt in time and correct it we can generally stop it from ever becoming lateral tension. That said, I tend to jump the gun and immediately correct for lateral stiffness as well, essentially making a correction for an error she hasn't even made yet.
Isolating this issue in my riding turned out to be a major revelation for me. A combination of watching what exactly I'm correcting her for, and focusing on increasing her responsiveness to my half-halts in the moments she wants to tune me out, has allowed us to finally make some progress on our canter-trot transitions for the first time in nearly a month! By riding my half-halts more effectively (and actually using the strong half-halts...) and not correcting for nonexistent lateral stiffness, we're starting to get much nicer transitions.
The other homework I was given was to do a few sets of canter-trots with draws on to stop her barging through my half-halts. I know some people don't like draw reins, and I tend to be one of those people, but they're a far more effective training aid than say a martingale for a horse that's jutting out their nose to avoid the contact, (like Cadence was when she'd get fed up and run through my aid) because you can come off them completely when you don't need them, and alter the 'intensity' of your correction when you do. I put them on for the canter work and ride it like the curb on a double, and when we did this tonight she was brilliant! I only touched them twice, and had them loose for most of the work but they stopped her getting through my aid without a fight, and if I can get through a tantrum without having to boot her or haul on her mouth I'm all for it :)

The flip side to this new found stretchy work and improved canter-trot transitions is that her canter (and trot-canters) have improved immensely! It feels like I'm riding a trained horse at long last ;) We'll warm up the canter, and the all I have to do is occasionally check her balance, or her tempo, or perhaps her bend/alignment, and she cruises around in a light as air. Her upwards transitions are so sensitive, you just shift your weight and think and she does it. The flip side to this is that I have to be careful. I want to make sure that even if my leg isn't doing much, its still positioned for the aid so that she understands that leg is still part of the cue... which hasn't been an issue so far, but I'd like to make sure it never becomes one. Sensitive is one thing- hypersensitive is another entirely. Regardless though, its mighty fun riding a 'trained horse' even if its just the beginning!

Also, ponies went out without blankets for the first time today!! Spring really is here!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Life Stuff

Midterm exams, music projects, 'social initiative' type projects, school, social stuff, personal/family stuff, and sometimes even horses... all manage to 'get in the way' of horses/my riding.  And I find myself not necessarily wanting to go to the barn. I'm always happy when I get there, but in terms of leaving the house (or wherever I'm stationed before heading to the barn) I just lack motivation to move. To put it simply, my brain would rather spend the time sleeping.  And all of that fades away the second I step out of the car and walk into the barn, I hate feeling anything less than positively thrilled about heading out to see my mare.
By the end of April, life should start to right itself again for me... I hope... and maybe if I'm lucky, I can even get into a regular weekly schedule. Gasp! How normal and relaxed that tall seems.  That's probably a tad optimistic though, so lets not get too excited.
In horse-related news, I still haven't decided if I'm moving barns. I've looked around a bit, but most of the good options are either full, too expensive, or don't allow outside coaches... so the search continues. (for current barn options, and for my move in Sept.) Cadence continues to do well though, and is on track to head to our first show of the season on the 21 of April! Its just a CT, but (footing/weather permitting) they generally offer a XC school after, so it should be good fun!
Also, my blogging through April may be a bit spotty.  Not for a lack of content, but simply a lack of time. Then again, when is content ever the issue?  And since I can't think of a summary/conclusion for this, I'll just end here. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Evening Hacks

The ground is finally suitable to ride on, so Cadence and I have been capping the last few rides off with evening hacks :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Equine-Themed Clothing

I'll be honest- I was never one of the little girls who wanted a pony themed bedroom covered in pink and sparkles.  Clothing with horses silk screened onto it, or bed sheets covered in pony print, or socks (oh the equine themed socks!) with horse hooves... none of it ever really appealed to me.  If I want to broadcast my equine love, I'll wear my Rolex hoody or maybe even my paddock boots around ;) However, every now and again I come across a piece of horsey clothing I'd love. Though most are classy enough on their own, I think really its the wit that makes them wearable.  Somehow wit outweighs tackiness, making the clothing appealing rather than adorable, but somewhat cringe-enducing... which seems to be the norm.  For example:
Who wouldn't want this? Especially if you have a mare...
I spotted this shirt at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair a few years ago & fall in love! 

Dapplebay's Three Days Three Ways long sleeved tee.

For some reason I couldn't get a picture of the actual shirt, but its just a grey fitted tee, and if you check out Behind the Bit, you'll find a link to the shirt.

And today, I came across another piece of horsey-clothing I'd actually buy (and now desparately want) while browsing SprinklerBandits blog:
Riding Ninja Apparel.  Adorable, and entertaining!
You can check out all the differend designs for yourself here or on Facebook.  OR you can also go to SprinklerBandit's blog, and check out her contest to get one for free!  I figure I'm safe to share the contest info without ruining my own chances of winning because anyone (of the 2 or 3 readers I've got :P ) who reads my blog probably reads hers as well!