Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Update Time

Okay, so basically from the start of January on, Cadence had been having some issues in her flat work.  I've blogged about them before, but not in a while so here's an update from the weekend of the 9-10 of February.

Cadence and I were originally supposed to head out to a jumper show on the 9th (of Feb), but thanks to the snow storm the show was postponed. So instead I had a dressage lesson, which ended up being exceedingly productive. My coach wanted to try to sort out Cadence's new found canter/post-canter behavioural issues in the trot work so they were improved before we got to the canter work. Fair enough, but her trot work had been lovely and very sensible, and she hadn't given me even the tiniest drop of grief in the trot... so I hadn't really been able to 'sort' anything out.  Her idea as to how to lure Mr. Hyde out of Dr. Jekyll was actually pretty simple:
Cadence's biggest 'issue' is that she has a tendency to barge through my right rein when she gets a bit tired/crooked, rather than carry herself. So to coax out Mr. Hyde, we'd work some lateral work that would force her to come off that right rein.
We started by flexing her left and right while leg-yielding in the walk and trot to ensure she was supple, then moved on to haunches-in. It took a while to settle her in the haunches-in (she always overreacts when you first go to move your leg back & tries to shoot off) but once she was more relaxed we did a little shoulder in, and then moved on to a new exercise: shoulder in to renvers.  In the simplest terms possible, the first attempt at this exercise was a disaster.  Cadence basically bolted straight across the ring and almost ran over a (rather nervous) lady who was trying out a horse.  After that, the coach gave me a right draw rein so that I could attempt to hang onto that right side, and we decided to work in walk for a minute before attempting it in trot again.
Amazingly though, after working through it in the walk ad trot there was quite an improvement in Cadence and we got some of the best canter work we'd had in a while.  It wasn't 100%, but it was improved & I gained a new favourite exercise! So in short, we were not quite there yet, but we're improving.

Incidentally, I need to remember to sink my weight into my inside stirrup during haunches in (outside for renvers) because I have a tendency to basically move my inside leg away from the horse which 1. allows her to run through that side, and 2. shifts my weight into my outside seat bone which prevents her from stepping under herself with that hind leg.... which is kind of key to the exercise.

How our lateral work looks in my mind:

How our lateral work looks in real life:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Drool Worthy Stallions

I was going to title this post 'drool worthy studs' but thought better of it!  Anywho... in general Idon't  spend a ton of time looking at and researching stallions, but as a biology student who is fascinated by genetics and an equestrian interested in sport horse development, I've been fascinated by breeding for a while. Anywho, I was looking through some sale ads the other day when I came across an add for an in utero foal by a young stallion called Bon Balou. I kind of glanced over the ad and was about to move on when I decided to watch a quick video of the stallion jumping. 10 seconds later, I was in love. Not only can this guy jump (and what a hind end!!) but his gaits are positively gorgeous. See for your self:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

300 Post and some musings

So I originally had a nice little post planned to commemorate the 300th post on this blog, and the two year anniversary of owning an awesome little mare who has done so much to change my life for the better, since the two dates happened to coincide rather nicely.  To do this, I planned on creating a video capturing Cadence's progress over the past 2 years- a big undertaking to be sure, but seeing as I started in December I figured I could easily have it done by valentines day (the day I bought Cadence).  However... exams hit, then snowstorms hit (changing the scheduling of exams and classes), then new semesters and new classes started, I got sick, had a birthday, and then I panicked.  With all that going on, I put off writing this post. This nice little plan and had gotten it into my head & I'd decided that it should be special, but since the video wasn't going to be done (and still isn't near done... I'm not even one year through it) I didn't want to 'waste' the post with inane blabber.  But as time dragged, I began to feel awful.  There was so much for me to say, but I couldn't write any of it without completing this 300th post.

This got me thinking of a few things, and before I continue perhaps I should state that the rest of this post isn't strictly horse related.  The first is how we put things off, and make 'excuses' for not doing things that are important to us because of a fear of failure, or a desire for perfection which ultimately leads back to that fear of failure.  Naturally, it goes without saying that this is an unproductive and 'negative' thing to do, and while I'd like to think I'm generally pretty good about engaging in these behaviours, I can definitely think of a few instances in which I've put off submitting important papers that I've spent a long time working on because I just keep tweaking little bits in an attempt to perfect the paper.  This idea of fear and creation reminded me of two videos posted on YouTube by vloggers Charlie McDonnell, Michael Aranda and Hank Green that basically talked about the same thing (and links are to the videos).  Hank's video is the most relevant, but all three were interesting and to a certain extent, provide context to each other.

Then, for reasons I can't quite figure out, this got me thinking about luck.  I noticed an interesting pattern recently: if I do poorly at a horse show, it's always my fault; but if I do well, it was 'just good luck'.  When going into a horse show, I put my faith in our preparation rather than good luck.  If we've got the skills down and are adequately prepared, theoretically we should never need 'good luck' to help us.  I mean a little dose of good luck probably won't hurt, but in my experience, luck only comes in when you maybe aren't quite as prepared as you could have been.  Its those times when that bank/skinny/coffin/corner doesn't go exactly as planned that good luck can carry you through, but more often those situations just inform you of weaknesses in your preparation, or chinks in the armour so to speak..   But the interesting part of that (to me at least) is that all of those notions slip away on the wind the second success comes in.

After Cadence won her first horse trial last summer, I felt kind of bad. I felt elated, proud, and excited as well, but there was this little nagging feeling that we didn't deserve what we'd won.  When Cadence and I won the next event, which also happened to be her first time out at a higher level, I felt downright guilty.  It felt like we'd cheated somebody more deserving out of the prize, and that just because we got lucky, and my green bean mare bounced neatly around the event, the person who should have won, was relegated to second place.

I'm not really sure what the connection between luck and procrastination is... other than the fact that they're both interesting topics.  And other than bringing attention to them, I don't really have any interesting insight on the topics.  Iwill probably still feel guilty when I'm successful at things, and say that I just 'happened to get lucky', and I'll probably continue to put off important things just because I don't want to mess them up.  However, I'm a firm beleier that in almost all areas of life, awareness is the first step to changing something. Whether its keeping your heels down, or avoiding procrastination, you have to be aware of the issue to correct it... so maybe this is a step in the right direction.

Anywho, thanks to everyone who reads this blog.  While its small (and frankly I'd not have it any other way) it still amazes me that people feel my scribbled notes and ramblings worth their while to read.  Hopefully now that I'm over this little bump in the road I can get back to blogging a little more regularly!  Cheers!

Friday, February 8, 2013

WW: Walks & Teeth

Well, this was SUPPOSED to be published on Wed, but apparently it takes my phone 2 days to publish a post.... So that's why the wordless wednesday is on a friday, and not so wordless either.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

2 Years Through Jumping Pictures

Its hard to believe, but I've now had my mare for 2 years!  I thought I'd do a short series of photos to depict some of the changes we've made together over the past two years, and lets face it... jumping photos are a heck of a lot more exciting than flat school pics!
 January 2011, on my 2nd or 3rd ride on Cadence.  This is what our canter used to look like...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

About the Lssons

Cadence had Thursday off (well, I free lunged her... but really she had the day off) so I decided to jump her Friday, and flat Sat.  After a good quick warm up in which Cadence was really nice and calm we started off cantering into a 2'9 ish bounce.  The first 1 or 2 run throughs were a little awkward with her being a wee tiny bit backed off the first time, and getting in on a long-ish spot on the second. However, after the first two we (literally) hit our stride and so my coach added a 3'6 vertical 21 feet away from the bounce.  For the non-jumpers, 21 feet is a tighter 1 stride, or an "indoor" 1.  After popping neatly through that in the bounce to the 1-stride direction and in the 1-stride to the bounce direction.... if that makes sense... we made the 1 stride 24  feet.  Cadence also calmly jumped through this, and surprised me by letting me rate her to the fences which resulted in perfect distances every single time.  Go mare!  We ended the lesson by working on flying changes.  This was only the second time we've worked on flying changes, and we jumped right into them from the canter but she nailed every. single. one. Woot!!  Her jumping is better than its ever been, and we're in a really fun stage right now.  If only I could sort out that flat...

The lesson started out really well. After a quick w/t, we moved right into canter-trot transitions.  My coach had me focus on using my left rein to close her shoulder and get her off the right rein when she started to lay on it when cantering right.  This did wonders for us, and her transitions began to improve. Still not where they were before, but better.  Then after a few decent ones to the left she asked us to go canter-walk.  Cadence was not happy with this plan, and started barging through the trot taking us about 1/2 a circle to finally walk... even with the aid of the wall.  We spent the remainder of the lesson settling her back down.  Aside from the little attitude & muscle display, the lesson was on a whole good, and Cadence finally seems to be working out of her "dressage issues" she developed.  Hopefully getting her teeth done (vet comes Thurs) will help with the last bit of resistance she seems to be harboring.