Monday, May 24, 2010

Sort of Back

Hey!! I've been offline for a week, so I'm behind on all your blogs. I have tons of cool pictures and I look forward to catching up.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mon dieu! C'est stupide!

Izzy and I had another jumping day. I got Irie's mom to help me set a barrel jump, and off we went.

Izzy warmed up really well. We had to do a little work with halting and backing to remind her that going forward did not mean hollow and run, but then she softened and listened nicely. She's getting more comfortable in the new arena, so she's not nearly as forward as she was yesterday. However, we did get some nice work on galloping and coming back in and she seems to do it pretty well. With her big stride and her speed, gallop is amazing to ride.

Then we jumped. She warmed up really well over the crossrail and then we headed for the barrels. (I had let her look at them earlier.) She came in, cantered a stride or two out, then launched herself over the jump. I managed to grab mane and stay on. As she cantered away, I petted her and told her what a good girl she was. We did the same thing again, with her launching and me grabbing mane, and then...

Nothing. We'd come in and stop. I'd make her stand in front of the jump, and then try again. Still nothing. I remembered what Cathy said about not making it scary and not making a fuss, so I didn't get after her. Irie's mom was there, but she's not a real experienced jumper, so while she pointed out that IZzy was backing off way in front of the fence, she didn't know how to fix it. Hm... Izzy is normally pretty bold and she had already jumped it twice. She wasn't off, she wasn't in pain, and she wasn't really in a mood, so I knew the problem had to be me, but I didn't know how to fix it. I also didn't want to quit without jumping it again.

Irie's mom was riding a jumping schoolmaster, so she gave us a lead over it. Izzy went forward pretty boldly, but then tried to rush the fence. She ignored my body half halt so I went to my hands... and got in her face... and she stopped... Oh. I had Irie's mom give us another lead, determined not to get in Izzy's face this time. Unfortunately, Mr. Schoolmaster decided to piddle over the jumps, so I had to pull Izzy out (well in advance) to avoid running over the top of him.

We circled around at the canter. I haven't cantered many jumps with Izzy because that means the jumps come up faster and I don't want to scare her. (Also, if she threw in a sliding stop, the canter would be harder to ride. Irrational, but true.) This time, I determined to let her do what she wanted and I would just sit still. We cantered in. Then she trotted. Then she cantered. I put my leg on and stayed in halt seat, determined to be out of her face.

She took one massive leap and we were over and galloping away.

That was easy.

Lesson learned: when the mare wants to canter, let her canter, you nitwit. They're her legs. She'll take care of them.

As I was driving away, I realized that a Pippa Funnell book I read about training young horses discussed this phenomenon. She mentioned what a challenge it is to jump younger horses because they don't have the strength for a slow collected canter, so they have to go more forward than you're comfortable with.

And at the core of this problem appears to be my confidence issues. If I trusted Izzy more, I probably could have avoided five refusals this morning. Live and learn.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Izzy was amazing this morning!! (Sorry for the joyous outburst, but I'm having a fab day.)

I set some jumps this morning, then got her out, lunged her briefly, and hopped on to see what would happen. Let me just say that Izzy LOVES the big arena. She walked and trotted nicely, and when I asked her to canter, she LEAPED into it. She nearly galloped down the long side. She isn't usually this forward, so I thought, "Huh, this is a good opportunity to work on lengthen/shorten in the canter." And it was. She's not really quick about responding to me, but she gets it. This is progress!

The jumps I set were about 2'3"ish, so the highest we've jumped together. Irie's mom came over and set one down to a cross rail for us to see if she remembered jumping. Oh boy did she! Again, I was taking advantage of Izzy's forwardness (and staying ahead of my leg-ness) and we had beautiful approaches and glorious jumps. One time I sat down too early and caused her to take the rail down with her back legs :-( , but I tried to keep it together other than that. I mean, she's doing so well that I can start to focus on my form without freaking out about her, which is amazing.

Oh, and Izzy's favorite thing about the new place remains hand grazing after a workout. Fah Bu Lous!!

Oh, AND we're riding in a dressage clinic this weekend. Izzy's gorgeous dressage tack is sparkling and I'm going to break out the fancy new fly bonnet that we haven't used yet. So exciting! (Except that right after the clinic, I'm going on a trip with my mom and sister and won't be able to ride for 4 whole days. Sadface.)

PS I think I have someone lined up to take pictures of us at the clinic. Be happy!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Knee Deep in Euphoria

I think Izzy is settling in to the new place well. I didn't make it out to see her yesterday because the weather was lousy and my grandma was having a good day. Since time with grandma is limited, Izzy lost out. (As a rehash, Izzy was a nutcase on Monday.)

Here is Izzy today:
Why yes, she is knee deep in green grass. If only the pasture fences were in... oh well. One thing at a time.

Anyways. After a week of not riding for various reasons, I got to ride both girls today. Now I'm going to brag about it, because I'm pretty proud of how it went.

Cassie is an 18 year old OTTB who I've known and ridden for years. She's also Izzy's mom. On Monday, she was actually pretty quiet, so I got her out first today. Today was not as quiet. She didn't like being by herself and out of sight of other horses that she knew. To deal with this, I turned her loose in the (cool big) arena. Galloping is relaxing for Cassie and she has an amazing recovery time, so I'm not concerned about wearing her out. She galloped quite a lot and whinnied at her friends some. When she was a bit calmer, I got on. I noticed that there's a spot in the windbreak by the arena that lets her see her friends pretty well, so we rode in a big circle by that spot.

We started out cantering. I took no contact, since Cassie isn't big on it anyways. We did a lot of shorten/lengthens in the canter, then did a few trot/canter transitions. We didn't go around the whole arena, but when she got strong, I just took her on a bigger circle (maybe half the arena) and let her gallop some. Remember, we're trying to relax in a new place, not do a dressage test. When she settled and was more or less listening to me, I dismounted and took her back to her friends. I think this is important. She needs to learn that she goes to this arena to work, then goes back home. Once she figures it out, I think the anxiety will disappear.

Izzy is cut from a different cloth than her mother. She likes to gallop, but she doesn't have momma's ability to focus or her almost tireless gallop. Thus, I needed to get her accustomed to working in the new arena without wearing her out. I can wear out her body long before her brain and that's a bad situation. Instead of turning Izzy loose to run and look at stuff on her own, I put her on the lunge line. We just started walking the perimeter of the arena together. When she stopped, pricked her ears, and snorted at something, I'd let her look at it. When she looked away, I'd ask her to walk a 5ish meter circle around me and past the scary thing. When she could walk the circle without changing pace or gait, we would continue walking the rail. It probably took half an hour to get all the way around, but it was worth it. We finished that off by lunging both ways, w/t/c just to get her going forward and listening to me.

She didn't offer any real disobedience, so I hopped on. I'll confess that we only went right today because the wind is still ripping through here and I didn't want to push her too hard, but she was really good and almost relaxed, so we did some walk/trot/canter transitions and then I got off. I untacked her at my car (since we don't have the tackroom area set up yet) and then put her halter on and took her out in the field to graze. She only whinnied to her friends once while I had her out in the arena, and not at all while she was grazing.

What a day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dream Boots

I stupidly scheduled a doctor's appointment for today at 11. That would have given me plenty of time at the old barn to go out, feed, ride, and brush the hay off my shirt before seeing a doctor. Between moving to the new barn and helping my grandparents out (both of which are long trips in the opposite direction of the doctor), I'm stuck at home doing horsey laundry. I guess that's ok. I'll ride later this afternoon.

So. Instead of a riding post, here's something else I've been thinking about. (And if you didn't see yesterday's post, scroll down. There are pictures!)

I think most of you are aware that I have something of a horse boot fetish. Since Izzy and I are gunning to be eventers, I get to indulge that fetish by having boots for three different disciplines. I have cool white fleecy dressage boots from dover, Roma gel open fronts in black, and a pair of black pro choice no-turn bell boots. This leaves a gaping hole in my boots collection--cross country. Of course, none of you doubt that I've thought about this gap long and hard. Here are some options I'm contemplating:

Dream boots #1: Nunn Finer American Style Boots These are fabulous. Also, they are used by high level competitors, while Izzy and I are staring beginner novice in the eye. As far as I can tell, they're more common for people riding at prelim and up, which is years away for us, if we ever decide to go that far. So, awesome but expensive and pretentious, which probably isn't a good thing.

Dream boots #2: Nunn Finer Brushing boots This is what I'll end up with, I'm sure. The trouble is this: I like royal blue. When Cassie and I evented, we had lots of it. I still have a royal saddle pad for xc, a royal polo to wear, and royal polo wraps for her. So there's a good sized part of me that really wants to get the black with royal blue straps. The other part thinks I ought to be a little more formal and grown up and just get plain black. Not as fancy, but gets the job done.

Any thoughts?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Maybe Pictures?

Still having picture issues. Oh well. Cassie is settling in nicely and I have high hopes for a ride tomorrow, but Izzy is acting like a total nut (whenever she can drag her face out of the tall grass), so we'll see where that goes. I'm sure a full day to look around will improve her outlook substantially. I would have ridden Cassie today, but it started pouring rain and the indoor has a bunch of crap in it while some stuff gets worked on, so I'll have to wait. Besides... I'm not sure Cassie's ever been indoors. She didn't do the doom bubble.

After walking Izzy around and watching her freak out, I decided to turn both girls out in the arena together. The runs that they will live in aren't quite done, so they're staying semi-peacefully in the round pen together. (Yes, we have a roundpen now. I'm taking a bit of peevish delight in occupying it which annoys someone I'm not a fan of. Still, it's temporary. Tomorrow I'll hopefully get things straightened out.)

So, here are the hooligans themselves.
Izzy's fabulous butt. Admire.
This was towards the end of her racing around madly. She was tired and wanted to come see me. Behind her, you can see the wall of the indoor arena.

Look, no hooves!

Sadly, I don't have many cool pictures of Cassie from yesterday. In my defense, Cassie is way fast and hard to take pictures of.

I'm kind of impressed by what Izzy's doing here. I'm not sure I ever want to ride it. I'm also not super excited by the play equipment next to the arena. Seems like all kinds of fun that I'm not sure I want to have. Still, the fencing (railroad ties with metal rails) is solid and free of sharp edges.

Cassie and Izzy make a lap. Cassie, an OTTB to the core, is balanced and fast with an amazing recovery time. Izzy pretends to be a dressage horse, albeit a wee bit downhill. The sand piles in the background will be spread over the arena. Oh, and I should mention that our old arena was like 90 x 120 or something. This one is pretty dang big.

Izzy thinks that weeds growing in the arena is one of the best things ever. Cassie thinks that getting out and running around is the best thing ever. I have to say I'm happy with Cassie's attitude, but I do think Izzy will get it together.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Exciting Times

I finally did it. I made the trek out to the new barn location. I hadn't been before because I've been busy and it's a long ways away and the move seemed so far away.

Well. Now the move is supposed to be this weekend and I'd still never seen it. I'm still busy, but I made the (very long) run out to the property this afternoon. This is my only quibble with the old thing. The current location is 22 miles (round trip) for me. It's about 15 minutes each way, depending on traffic. The new location is WAY out. It's amazing and there are trails and all that, but it's going to be a much longer drive. Fortunately, it's out on country roads with few stops signs and comfortable speed limits, so I should be getting maximum fuel efficiency.

Also, I'm going to be out of town this weekend. I'm secretly hoping that the horses don't get moved until Monday, so Izzy and I can go exploring together, but we'll see what happens.

That said, here are some pictures.

Ok, no. There are no pictures. I have them, but either blogger or my computer is choosing not to upload them and I don't have time to sort it out. Have a great weekend! I'll try again Monday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gusting Winds

I'm serious. The past two weeks have been ridiculously miserable as far as wind is concerned. 40 mph gusts every day. It sucks. The dumbest part is that Izzy really doesn't mind the wind at all. She's no spookier than usual, which isn't very spooky to begin with. It's me. I HATE WIND. It just sucks all the joy out of life.

We have ridden every day, regardless.

Yesterday it was so windy that a massive tarp blew up against the arena fence. When I got Izzy out, she about fell down because something had changed. PANIC!! WE HATE CHANGE!! (At least, she does. I'm ok with change, not ok with wind). I made her walk up to the tarp and sniff it. Then I threw it up in the air and kicked it around a bit. She got over it pretty quickly.

I put her on the lunge line more on a whim than anything. I didn't think she'd need it, since I just rode the day before. I was right... mostly. Then the wind kicked up. PANIC!! THE TARP MOVED!!! Izzy galloped and galloped and snorted and bucked and spooked and spun around and had a meltdown... and then settled down and was fine.

In fact, when I got on her, she was ridiculously quiet. We even had some of our best canter work ever. The wind blew, the tarp moved, whatever. Nothing bothered her.

Today, she was really quiet on the lunge, but when I got on, she realized that someone had picked up the tarp and it was no longer by the fence. Hm. More change. We avoided panic, but she gave the rail the stink eye and we avoided that spot.

PS Denali, the barn is moving from a totally land locked five acres in the middle of new development to a much more rural 40 acres with access to trails. I think it's a good thing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

One Horse, Two Saddles...

On account of the whole barn moving this week (theoretically), I picked up all my tack and took it home until the transition is over. Things have a way of just walking away, and I figured that the confusion of a move would involve stuff disappearing if I didn't take good care of it.

I have one horse. I've only been a horse owner for a little over a year.

Here is my stuff:

And a couple more boxes that are not pictured. Yikes. ALL FOR ONE HORSE. The sad thing is that I can justify why I need every single bit of it.

It is officially a pain to have to preselect the stuff I need and haul it out with me in the mornings, though. Today we did dressage. That meant I had to bring my grooming kit, dressage saddle and girth, saddle blanket, wither pad, Izzy's bridle, Cassie's bridle, a dressage whip, my helmet, and gloves. So I have to carry it all to my car, then from my car to the barn, then back.

Despite all the gear wrangling, I had an excellent ride. I'm thinking I'll use this week to really focus on dressage and developing impulsion with Izzy and then try to transfer that energy into jumping next time we get a chance.

Speaking of the lovely mare, I found an old notebook when cleaning out my tack locker. In the notebook were a couple pictures I drew of Izzy when she was a baby. They're not spectacular, but they're fun.
There are pictures of her as a baby. I'll have to see if I can find one.
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