Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Mare Memoirs- Over Fences

I did a post a while back with some of my favourite "oh sh*t" moments over fences. As much as I love all those pictures (I really do... they crack me up & remind me not to take life too seriously) I thought I should add a compilation of my favourite "good" jumping pictures. Just so y'all don't judge us too harshly!
 She certainly can jump :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Favourite Quotes

After a clean run around Kentucky's advanced course, Denny Emmerson galloped up to the final fence. Unfortunately, getting his greens & blues mixed up, Denny ended up jumping the Prelim course's's final fence. 
Not realizing his mistake, Denny was cooling his horse out and telling everyone how awesome the course was, when Jack LeGoff comes up to him and says "Denny, when the gods rained stupidness on the earth, they forgot to give you an umbrella"

Friday, October 17, 2014


pirouette is a two-track lateral movement performed at either the walk or the canter in which the animal makes a circle with its front end around a smaller circle made by the hind end, while bent in the direction of travel.

pirouette (literally "whirl") is a type of dance turn on one foot. It is performed with turnout in ballet

When people were asked to send in their pirouette videos for world ballet day, I desperately wanted to send in one like this:
After all, it's still a pirouette!

A Non-Post

One day, I'd like to have time to start blogging regularly again. Unfortunately with two midterms tomorrow, that day is not today. Cadence & I have had an interesting season.... to say the least.... and I desperately want to get my thoughts about it down on paper. But between school, work, horses, and everything else I try to fit in to a day (physio, ballet, sleep, etc.) there's not much time left over for the necessities, like eating, let alone "luxuries" like blogging. I do miss it though.

Some random photos from this past August:

Its too bad she's crazy.... she'd make a lovely hunter
 Dressage in the dust
 Scopey pony

Monday, July 28, 2014

What Do You See?

Does she look off to you?

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 25, 2014

XC Photos... Again.

Avoiding a massive paper... which is less than 20% complete... and is due in two days, one of which will be spent at a horse show. Good time management at its best here people. So instead of working, I decided to share some of the awesome photos taken by a friend at our last xc school.
 Training or prelim house...
 Prelim thingy
 Training turning question... or maybe prelim. We either rode training, with novice/PT next to us or prelim with training fence next to us. Doesn't really matter either way.
 Jumping over the stream in the middle of a coffin-esque complex. Drop-water/stream/ditch-chevron.
 Cantering through the puddle
Coming off the normandy bank or the steps, can't remember which.
Normandy bank. 
You're missing the bank-with-a-massive-ditch that's one stride away on the other side of this fence.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When Life Hands You XC...

... you grab those reins and run with it! I'll do a full post soon, but in the mean time here's a quick photo preview of the mare & I out cross from earlier today.

Look at dem knees! And ignore me... I look like a turtle.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 14, 2014

Le Photo Dump

This is why I don't take days (or half days) off work! I waste them doing silly photo edits on my iPad.
Pics are from last Tuesdays XC school.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stepping Up Your Game

That moment when you show up for your XC school and realize that the two other people in your group have both competed internationally.... On multiple horses... And one of them competed in London. The London Olympics. For Canada. In eventing. Time to step up my game, A.K.A. trying to not look like a kid on a pony next to those two!

P.s. I will post all my pictures/videos from the past few months soon, but I don't actually have a computer at the moment. So y'all will have to wait till I actually get a computer again!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saddle 'em Up

A quick update on what I've been up to:
I wrote my last set of exams in the week preceding Easter. I then moved back into my parents house, spent Easter with my family, packed, and headed off to the RK3DE! Rolex was brilliant, and hopefully I'll get around to uploading the pictures to my computer one of these days.
After arriving home from KY, I spent a few days at home before driving down to NY to spend the weekend with my extended family and celebrate my godfather's 50th birthday. I then came home for a few more days, before leaving for a 3 day dressage show with Miss Cadence. That went pretty well, and we earned scores ranging from 59% to 70% at training and first level. Once again, I spent a few more days at home, and then headed down to see my cousin who was in an absolutely jaw-droppingly good production of Les Mis.
During my days at home, I've been working and studying. My summer semester started on May 8th, but as I'm only taking two courses I've been basically working full time on top of that. My normal day consists of 2-4 hours of school work, riding 3-6 horses, mucking stalls, and then babysitting, tutoring, or whatever other form of work I can manage to cram in to the remaining hours of my day. I'm also trying to  paint and move in to the new house I'm renting, but (unsurprisingly) I haven't had a lot of time in which to do that!

The Interesting Part:
I currently have 6 horses that I'm riding regularly. In addition to Cadence, I've been conditioning 3 event horses for a friend, riding them a couple of times a week. This has been great work for me, as all 3 are lovely horses and having the opportunity to sit on such nice horse flesh (let alone getting paid to do it) is always a treat. We've been spending a lot of time hacking, and recently we've added flat schools to our repertoire. I've also been riding another horse for her full time, with the intention of either taking the mare in a baby event this summer (maybe popping around an Entry/BN level HT) or taking her out hunting.
I've also taken on another mare, owned by the barn manager of a lovely (and MASSIVE) private boarding facility in the area. This horse, let's call her Miss P, is a chestnut TB mare and acts every bit of the stereotype. She's been off the track for a little over a year, & has a bit of a bolting issue, as well as a bit of an attitude problem. After scaring away a few part boarders, Miss P has fallen into my hands to ride. She's actually quite a lovely mare- nice and athletic- but highly inconsistent, very crooked, and exceptionally green. We had one ride where she behaved like an angel, and people riding with us commented on how beautiful she was. Two days later, she started off the ride bolting in every which direction every few seconds, and it took me over an hour to get her to respond to me. Unfortunately, she's been put on a 30 day tranquillizer (for turnout-related issues, not riding issues) which is going to make my job a hell of a lot more difficult once she comes off the tranq, but my goal is just to make the most of these 30 days so that by the time it wears off, hopefully I'll have a straighter, more educated psychopath to work with ;)

Cadence Update:
Cadence has been doing wonderfully. We had our first XC school of the year yesterday, and she jumped like a pro. Didn't bat an eye at any of the training & prelim level complexes we worked through. Even rode a drop & skinny combo that might have made it onto a challenging prelim/easy intermediate course. Our issues came in the form of bossiness. I schooled her in the myler, and while we could get all of our canter gears... I got a fair bit of attitude with them. I think we schooled through the issue pretty effectively, but I still plan on riding her in the dreamcatcher at our first HT this coming weekend. Better to nip the attitude at the bud early in the season, rather than letting it build!
We're going to run our first event at Pre-Training (Novice) level, and then if all goes according to plan move up to Training level in two weeks time. I'll admit, it makes me a bit nervous as I've never gone Training before either, but I've got no doubt in my mind she can do it as long as I ride her effectively :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pony On Springs

Exams have sucked away all my time... I'm still managing to keep her in work, but between riding, dancing, working, and studying I barely have time for eating let alone blogging! So here's a jumping clip of Cadence and I from a few weeks ago. This way at least I'm posting something!

YouTube Video

Monday, March 17, 2014

Write it in Pencil

Back when the omnibus was published, I took a look at the dates, checked my calendar, and wrote out a show schedule for the start of the season. I only planned as far ahead as June, as the rest of our season will largely depend on how confident she is after her upgrade. If she's a bit backed off, we'll run some of the 'softer' trainings but if she upgrades confidently we'll run some of the trickier courses that are more akin to a small prelim course. Anywho, our original plan was as follows:

CT & Xc school (Training)- April 20
Horse Trial (Pre-Training[Novice])- May 3
Horse Trial (Pre-Training)- May 17th-18th

Horse Trial (Training)- June 8th
So with about one month to go before our first show we're beginning to review dressage tests & do some coursework-type-exercises & focus on the technical elements of our jumping as much as possible given the limited space. In terms of training, we're right on mark. However, one month out we still have at least a foot of snow on the ground & the temperature never moves above freezing for more than a day. Thus the chances of my carefully scheduled show season actually going as planned are slim. Even if the snow miraculously melts by the end of the week, and we don't get any more, the chances of the ground drying out enough to be safe to run (Cadence is going brilliantly, and as we don't have any events that we need to run, I can afford to be a bit picky about what I run her on) are low. Moral of the story? Put it in pencil, because inevitably something will get in the way of even the best laid plans!
Show pony is ready to go play in the sandbox and show off her flicky toes!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Back to Basics, & The Importance of Hunters

Two wholly unrelated topics, eh? I swear, there is a connection.
After our set of lessons two weeks ago, Cadence had to have a wee bit of time off. She had three days off within a 5 day period, which does NOT go over well with her. If she's going to get more than just a day off, she needs a solid 2 weeks off; otherwise I'm left with a stressed, over-energized, bored horse. But thanks to an unfortunately crammed week of midterms, papers, quizzes, and presentations I was left with little choice.

Our first ride back was atrocious. Cadence was flipping out about everything from a pair of reins on the fence, to the other horse in the ring trotting over a pole. The ride turned in to a power-struggle with me fighting to keep control, and Cadence fighting because that's what I was doing so why shouldn't she? In order to make the most  of it, I set my goals, accomplished those, and quit while we were ahead. The next ride had the potential to start off the same way- Cadence was wired, and was channeling her excess energy into misbehaviour. She doesn't do it to be bad, its just that with the footing the way it is the horses don't get to run around during turnout like they do in the summer. And I don't want to free lunge her as the footing in the indoor is still a bit deep in places, & I just can't take that risk. So Cadence seeks an outlet for her pent up energy... and that outlet tends to be spooking, tensing, and trying to go as fast as possible.

When she gets all tense and wired, we lose a few basic building blocks of our training. the most basic of which is probably inside leg to outside rein, and vice versa. Being, by this point, a somewhat trained horse this is a concept which (when we actually have focus) she understands and is quite comfortable with. So while riding a horse who feels somewhat akin to an angry caged lion on steroids... or what I'd imagine an angry caged lion on steroids to feel like... may not always be fun, it's provided me with an excellent opportunity to take a step back and focus on some of the basics we normally take for granted.

For the past week or so, we've had three main goals:
-Respond promptly to my half-halts (without tensing up)
-Move off of my leg into the opposite rein
-Do this while maintaining self-carriage in a relaxed frame

So basically, we've spent the past week in hunter-land. As the week progressed, so did we, with the result being that even though Mare-Face had a day off yesterday I hopped on today and was able to w/t/c a lovely, soft horse in 15 minutes. Yay!

This got me thinking about the importance of hunters. In this area, hunters often get a bit of a bad rap. And to be completely honest, most of the time it's well deserved. However, I've always had a lot of respect for  the good hunter riders. To put it simply, good riding is good riding. And at the root of the hunter discipline lie some very important training goals: softness, rhythm, relaxation, and rideability.  A good hunter must be forward, straight, carrying him/herself, and capable of doing so while maintaining a steady rhythm regardless of what is thrown at them. Relaxation, and therefore softness, are the key to a truly quality hunter ride, just as they should be the key to a good dressage test; its just pushed to the forefront a bit more with the hunters.
Unfortunately though, especially at the lower levels people seem forego these key concepts in favour of focusing on the short-term "quick-fix" issues. People focus more on wether their hair is covering their ears (lest the judge be distracted by flapping ears...) than wether their horse is actually straight or soft, and a 'hunter-frame' is achieved through draw reins and martingales rather than straightness, suppleness, and self-carriage. But that's a story for another day. The point I wanted to draw from this is that a properly ridden hunter round takes a lot of skill, and to execute it properly a horse must have all the basics of good dressage training firmly in place. So Cadence will be entering in a few hunter classes this summer to see just how firm our training is ;)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

If a picture is worth 1000 words...

... how many is a video worth? Here's a little video I compiled form last weekend's jump school. I tried to chose clips that rather than just showing the end result actually showed a progression. So you get the good, the bad, and the uncoordinated ;)
Here's a picture to make up for it though!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fitting 3 Months into One Post...

... is not going to happen. So for now, lets just forget I ever neglected my blog and move on shall we?

Last weekend I popped Cadence in the trailer and we headed off for a day of lessons. Our morning consisted of an hour long dressage lesson, and the afternoon was a fun-filled jump school. Cadence had a few weeks off for a winter holiday in late Dec, and I've been careful to bring her back slowly so that we don't end up with any injuries. As a result, we'd only had two real jump schools preceeding our lesson, and I was a little concerned about her overall fitness. The mare was phenomenal though, and even after a rather gruelling dressage session in the morning, came out swinging for the afternoon session.

Cadence came out pretty tense and jumpy when I first hopped on her. We didn't even bother attempting stretch trot, and instead stuck to focusing on stretching in the walk and acclimatizing ourselves with the scary new indoor. And while the first part of the ride was far from our best work, she settled into it relatively well resulting in a half-decent ride overall.
In the dressage lesson, Ian emphasized a few key concepts:
1. I carry my right hand slightly higher, and hold tension in that elbow in response to Cadence's tendency to lay on the right. This is especially challenging when going to the left, so he made me carry my right hand down on her crest to help break the habit, and suggested I think of it more like a side rein.
2. She may be sensitive, but she has to accept my leg when I put it on, and not go careening madly off in all directions
3. Don't get into fights with her forcing her to slow down and collect. Push her on to get the necessary impulsion and balance, and then use half-halts to alter the stride length (and rhythm, when applicable)
4. Don't let her call the shots. Keep her focus on me, and keep her guessing. Similar to our last lesson, we had directions being shouted at us every five seconds. Neither of us knew where we'd be turning next, how fast we'd be going, where we'd end up, or how long this would go on for ;) The 'I'm just going to barge off now. Ciao!' behaviour that Cadence likes to pull when she gets frustrated.

By the time I'd pulled her away from her hay for our jump lesson, Cadence had settled a bit and was much saner when I hopped on for the second time. We started off the ride reviewing what we'd worked on in the morning from a jumping perspective, and then after warming up over a cavaletti moved on to some basic grids. Cadence attempted to bolt through the grids at warp speed, but rather than correct her Ian had me ensure she was balanced and then 'let her fall on her face'. As long as she wasn't going to jump the bounce as an oxer, let her crash her way through till she backed herself off. After a few run-throughs she did start to back herself off,so we moved on to some other exercises, all with small (2'-2'6) fences, that kept the focus on relaxation. Once we were calmly cantering through whatever he set up, we moved on to some course work over slightly bigger fences. By this point, Cadence had remembered what jumping was, and settled into the work like a pro.
Overall, in spite of the slightly less than impressive start to the ride, we had a fabulous jump school & Cadence even gathered a little crowd who were impressed with her "jumping skillz" and disappointed she wouldn't be heading south at all.