Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pony Withdrawl

I just got back from a way too long vacation--I haven't even seen Izzy since last Tuesday and I rode about a week before that. Poop. I will pout.

Ok, I think that's over. I can't wait to get back into the horsey swing of things today, but I have a couple of updates even before going out to see Ms. Mare.

On Tuesday, she got her feet done. Three of them are brilliant--rock hard and no flare. One is less brilliant, but slowly getting better. Dave's (the farrier) comment was that he could have put a shoe on any of her good feet and the last one is "almost good enough to shoe".

Think about it. It just makes so much more sens to me that way. Shoes are for healthy feet that need more protection. Barefoot is to develop the feet to that point. Also for poor people, like me. :-)

Also, while driving home with my husband yesterday, I found a voicemail on my phone from the barn owner, which resulted in an immediate freak out. Until, of course, the voicemail played, "Hi, it's Karen. Izzy is fine..." Phew. This resulted in a long conversation about what my husband was to do if/when he ever gets a call about Izzy not being fine when I'm out of contact.

As a result, one of my projects for today is to write up a paper for him with explicit instructions regarding treatment and vet care in case of emergencies. It's good to be prepared.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Depressing Non Pony News

Sorry to be absent and sporadic. Without going into gory personal details, I just missed out on something I really, really wanted and was counting on thanks to a clerical omission completely out of my control. It's depressing and frustrating and I've been accordingly moody. I had a chance to go out and see the wondermare today and I didn't even do it. Partly because I was depressed and listless and partly because of the underlying anger and frustration, I knew I couldn't treat her fairly.

I'm sure she didn't mind a bit and continued wandering around her pasture grazing.

Beautiful girl. I miss her face. I get one more chance to see her before I take off for another few days. This traveling thing is getting old.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We Have Video!!!!

Ok, I know I've never posted a video before, but that's because I'm incredibly non-tech-savy. However, I think I finally have it figured out (thanks lil sis) and will attempt to imbed some here for your viewing pleasure. Whole new world for me.
Here's Izzy and I cantering a crossrail last week. We are so cute! I've never really had the benefit of video before, so this can be super useful I think...

I have pictures today too.
Here's my ever-lovely little sister riding Izzy yesterday. Never mind the girl hasn't been on a horse in literally YEARS--she looked like a pro, as much as it's possible to do so on a lunge line.

Makes me wish I looked that good in the saddle, ha.

However, she's also handy with a camera, so I have some new Izzy pictures and even video!

We look fabulous. Izzy was being her usual lovely self (after a massive passage/gallop freak out about the horses running in the pasture) and I'm appropriately attired.

As you may have noticed, we've had a ton of rain since the last time I posted pictures and everything is soaked again. The outdoor was rideable, but barely.

Trotting around. It is kind of difficult to warm Izzy up for someone who doesn't know much about riding. I had her in jump tack because I think it's easier for a first time back riding person, plus there's more to grab on to.

Usually, when I have jump tack on, I focus on sharpening her responses. You know, the trot/halt/trot/canter/walk/canter type thing so I have her forward and focused. That's a great idea, except that the last thing a newbie needs is a horse that's sharp on the aids, right? Sure recipe to get dumped.

Instead, we just meandered around and made sure Izzy was happy and forward-ish. Here's a video (woohoo!!)

Then Abby rode.
Izzy was great--quiet and bored. She more or less tried to do what Abby wanted, but she also knew what she could get away with.

This is one of those things I just love about Izzy. She does everything I want to do, but then I can throw someone up on her and she just ambles around like a lesson pony. So sweet.

Of course, I say "ambles" but both these pictures are of trotting. What can I say? They both did great. Wish I looked that good, lol.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Mouth?

Aw. Pony snuggles. She is such a great mare. :-)

I rode on Monday and it was not good. She alternately wouldn't go forward or ran on her forehand and was totally out of balance. We did a lot of halt/back/walk just to keep her more or less from falling over.

It wasn't really frustrating, but that was just because I was enjoying the challenge of trying to find balance. However, we had switched back to using the happy mouth bit in the micklem bridle.

Rabbit trail: Izzy has taken up yawning after a ride. I know someone blogged about what that means, but I haven't had time to hunt down exactly who and what it meant. If it was you, please reply. Anyways, I wanted to see if the micklem would relieve the yawning issue. It sort of did. Instead of 3 or 4 yawns, I had one. Hum.

Anyways. Yesterday, I went back to the regular dressage bridle complete with most fav pony mare bit and the problem of leaning/running did not resurface, but the yawning did a little.

You know me--I'm not happy unless I have a tack problem to play with. ;-)

At any rate, we were also able to ride outside yesterday, which is a larger arena and helps with the forward problem. Izzy was fabulous. I felt great. We didn't even end up working very hard because Izzy was being so good that I saw no point in pushing it.

Now I'm off to see if Izzy will let my lil' sis ride her. Stay posted!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Actual Pictures This Time

Hm... I'm trying to upload pictures again. I have no idea what blogger thought was wrong, but maybe it's fixed now.

Here's Izzy and I just hanging out.

Ok, so my friend (M) and I went out to see the wondermare. It was late afternoon and 85f outside, which feels hot right now. Hence, we had a super lazy ride. Seriously--I just barely went w/t/c. She was really quiet and easy going. Nothing like a hot day to calm a mare down, eh?

Then I handed her off to M. She used to have a horse (and I was SOOOO jealous of her when I was a kid), but life got in the way when she grew up.

As you can see, Izzy was incredibly good. I felt almost like a proud mommy, watching Izzy go around. She was calm, quiet, and forward, even offering to take contact and carry herself.

Plus, I had the added bonus of getting to watch my own horse go. As someone who's never been able to afford training, that was fabulous.

Izzy even cantered for her. When M rode last fall, Izzy was greener (obviously) and generally refused to even trot. Not so this time!! They were happy and confident in all three gaits.

Honestly, from the enormous amount of pictures we took, Izzy's dressage actually looked better when M rode than when I did. Go figure, right? I think more Sprinkler-butt-kicking is in order.

We even hosed Izzy off at the end. It was remarkable--she didn't pitch her usual fit or anything. She just stood still while M fed treats and I scrubbed. Huh. Maybe we'll finally be able to do water without a battle this summer. That would be nice.

The next day, we came out again. It was cooler (and earlier!) and we set up a jump. Only one problem: by the time Izzy was tacked up, the barn owners had started irrigating for the
first time this year. Water came flowing down the ditch by the arena and Izzy was not so sure it was a good idea.

I mean, a girl could drown in that massive ditch.

For serious mom.

Probably shouldn't stand this close.

What if one of those falling house that attacked poor Tucker came after us? We could get squashed to death -and- drowned.

Ok, fine. Don't say I didn't warn you.

After we got over the ditch drama, it was time to ride.

Well, actually, it was time for conformation shots because she wasn't all hot and sweaty yet.

Not the best conformation shot ever, but I love this picture of Izzy. She looks so graceful and animated and look at that muscular development!

I mean, she even has a neck now. Her warmblood daddy means she has the genetics to develop one, but her tb mommy means she isn't required to have one.

After a nice warm up, we headed over the tiny cavaletti. Both of us felt a tiny bit bored.

Just remember, for me, bored is good. It's vastly, hugely better than scared, which is how I used to feel all the time.

Ears pricked, eyes up and forward. We were ready to move on.

Teeny tiny cross rail. That is the next step. Izzy was fine. I was fine. We trotted and cantered in and felt happy, forward and comfortable.

I prepared myself and M set up the jump for us. We were going to do it.

JUMP!!! Izzy was amazing. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Yeah, it's just a little 2' vertical, but I was so comfortable.

At one point, Izzy started kinda taking the bit and rushing to the base of the jump, then flinging herself over. I re-evaluated and realized that 1) I wasn't asking her to carry a forward enough pace which meant that 2) I was nervous coming in to the jump because she was behind my leg and could stop so 3) I was clamping my legs on and chasing her over the jump. As soon as I rode forward and loosened my death grip, she went just fine.

I am so proud of this picture... Yeah, George Morris could point out a ton of things wrong (too much grip with knee which is driving the toes out at an absurd angle, base of support too far out of saddle which means I jumped ahead a little, fuzzy girth is distracting, hooves aren't painted mane needs to be shortened), but it's just Izzy and I, jumping, and not terrified. Winning!!

After her spectacular performance, Izzy went back to being calm happy pony.

Where iz cookeez?

I decapitated M here, but it's just such a lovely shot of Izzy that I'm sure no one will hold it against me.

Yep. You can say it. She's the most gorgeous and amazing horse in this neck of the desert and I'm incredibly lucky to own her.

Though in truth, she probably owns me far more than I own her.

Such is life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

We Are the Champions!! (of the world)

Thursday and Friday, one of my very best friends in the world came out to visit the wondermare with me.

Joy! We now have oodles of pictures. I will upload a few and discuss.

I take it back. The uploader is repeatedly failing and my brain isn't wanting to recap. Until tomorrow, my friends.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Good News!!

I jumped Izzy yesterday. It was 80f, which was lovely, but it felt hot, so we just did little lazy stuff.

The good part is that at one fence, she took a massive flying leap. In my old saddle, I would have been totally unseated and almost come off with appendages flying everywhere. With the new saddle, I just stayed right with her and felt totally comfortable.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Public Service Announcement

Let's talk about saddle fit for humans. Hopefully, we are all acquainted with exactly how crucial it is to have a saddle that fits your horse--it makes a world of difference for how the horse moves and thinks and acts. That said, I think entirely too many people, myself included, have said, "As long as it fits my horse, I can ride in anything." We forget that Our anatomy benefits just as much from a well fitted saddle as the horse does.

Here's my Passier. It fits Izzy brilliantly, but more than that, it was my introduction to what a saddle that actually fits me feels like. In my previous saddle, my heels were always up and my right ankle was locked. I thought it was me--my position, my riding, my mistake.

Surprisingly, as soon as I sat in this saddle, that went away and has not returned. The other saddle didn't fit me correctly and was causing the problem.

It's not about the brand or the price. The two saddles I currently own are not the most expensive saddles I've ever had. Passiers are not magic wands--they work really well for Izzy and I, but they may not work as well for someone addressing a different problem or with different conformation

After we experienced the wonders of a saddle that actually fit both of us, I became a girl on a saddle fit mission. I hated my jump saddle and I began to realize that the reason was that the balance was all wrong for me. I was ahead of the motion and pushed forward, which contributed to me being terrified of jumping. I decided to shelve jumping until I could find something that would actually work for us.

Here's the result: an Ainsley XC saddle. I did my research and crossed my fingers and happily, it worked. Really, really well. It's completely different from my previous saddle, but it fits us both brilliantly and I am so comfortable and secure in it that I'm actually looking forward to jumping this afternoon.

Please don't tell me that saddle fitting is expensive--I live in cow country, ID and we have zero independent saddle fitters who carry any inventory and 1 (brand new!) brand rep for a type of saddle that is completely out of sight for me price-wise. It takes initiative, kind friends, and a lot of study, but you can figure it out and it is so worth it.

Aimee and Izzy, moving forward.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Trotting and Tension

As promised, we broke out the jumping tack and I set trot poles yesterday. We were in the indoor because it was blowing about 30mph and gusting around 45, which always makes me grumpy.

Really, though, it couldn't have been a more perfect way to practice relieving tension. Izzy was looky--stuff was blowing around and making noise and I was uncomfortable. Have I mentioned I hate wind? Yeah. Oh, and also the corn field next to the area had a big ol' tractor driving around in it.

Anyways. I let Izzy warm up on the lunge and blow off any steam. (Not much.) Then we stood by the mounting block until we both felt calm enough, and I got on. Izzy just stood and waited for me to be ready to go. When I had the whip properly situated in my hands, off we went. I kept her on a short enough rein that if something went majorly wrong, I could drop the whip and pick up contact, but long enough that we didn't really have any contact otherwise. She started getting more looky. I pushed my hands forward (to keep myself from taking back) and put leg on.

Huh. It worked. Izzy's strides got longer and slower, just like Stephanie said they would. We did a little figure 8, then went straight. I felt nervous, so I asked Izzy to halt, again, using my body, pushing hands forward. She did. We walked off immediately. We trotted. We did transitions when I felt insecure. Izzy was a star.

When we started the trot poles, I realized that I wasn't riding Izzy forward enough--she'd lose impulsion about halfway through and take awkward steps. I focused on riding forward. About halfway through, I even held the whip normally and just rested my hands on her neck, but still rode with my body.

It was great.

A couple of final notes:
1) Izzy is a fabulous amazing horse and I need to give her credit for that. As Stephanie is fond of saying, "Ride her like she's a good horse and she will be. If you ride like she might do something, who knows what crazy stuff she would do."
2) I can ride (and ride well) without constantly using my hands.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Having a Mini Crisis

Let's catch up:

Izzy and I tried out the Ainsley saddle on Thursday. Since we were scheduled for our first lesson of the year on Friday, I didn't want to wear her out. We just hacked around and had a blast and the saddle was PERFECT!!!! (Thank you so very much, Gingham.)

Izzy rocks the Ainsley, which ever-so-conveniently also matches my bridle and breastplate. Winning!!

Oh, and the thinline pad is perfect. Life is good.

(Children, do not just drop the reins and back away from your horse to take a picture when she is in an area with no perimeter fence. It's very unsafe and stupid.)

So Friday. We went to our lesson. We rode with Stephanie Goodman, who is brilliant. She has an incredible gift for taking very complex concepts and making them sounds ridiculously simple. It's useful and makes learning easy, but also makes me feel like a moron for not already understanding something so easy. (That's not her fault.) Anyways.

Tack cleaned and ready to go to a lesson.

It was the first time either of us has ridden off property since last October, with predictable results. Izzy was super looky and I rode like an idiot. I was so tense and nervous and stuck that I just kept doing really stupid things, even thought the worst Izzy really did was stop to look at something. Sigh. Stephanie was great though--she kept reminding me that A) the horse is a flight animal and needs to have a look and B) the way I make her feel comfortable is telling her to do something.

Shockingly (not), she was completely right. Izzy settle din pretty well, but I was less successful at unlocking my brain. I unconsciously switched to a total hand ride, which meant we were crooked and unbalanced. When we finally started "jumping" a tiny crossrail and trot pole grid, I had Izzy so backed off and crooked from hand riding, that she actually wouldn't go over the first few times. She basically just drifted out and I couldn't stop her. Then I would leg yield back and she would step over the eensy weensy crossrail.

Then I had her so bottled up that when I tried to ride her forward, she proceeded to just sort of pogo-ed up and down which felt like bucking and then made me scared to go forward. (Told you I rode like an idiot.)

So... despite ending on a positive note, I felt like a total moron who couldn't ride. Stephanie told me I needed to ride more forward with less hand and jump more often (since I admitted to her that we have literally only jumped 3 times this year).

Fortunately, I was able to sneak in a ride Saturday. I pulled out the dressage saddle, and put a dressage whip through my thumbs to force my hands to stay level, even, and uninvolved. It took probably 15 minutes of walking, but I was finally riding well and in tune with Izzy. We trotted for a few minutes and did some figure 8s and leg yields, all hands free. I felt a little better then.

After a relaxing weekend away visiting my husband's family, I'm back in business today. And yes, we will absolutely be pulling out the jump saddle, trot poles, little cross rails, and putting that dressage whip back through my thumbs.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Exciting Times

Car got fixed yesterday and I was off on an adventure! Which is to say, I was having a very busy Wednesday, but the ever-lovely Gingham shipped me a jumping saddle to try and forget what was supposed to do, we were going to try it.

As I was driving up to the barn, the BO stopped me with some news about the little hussy.

Yes, this hussy. The one with the messy morning after forelock who's making her sexy face.

Apparently, she was still in a flaming heat on Tuesday and persuaded the gelding in her field that he was a stud... with predictable results...

Sigh. They were going at it in the field along the road, providing the neighbors with lots of entertainment.

Izzy is now on a double dose of Mare Magic for the foreseeable future. We'll see how it goes.

Anyways. Saddle. It's an Ainsley, like the one that totally ruined me. It's wider, but I was trying not to get my hopes up too high in case it didn't work out.

Hm. Look at it. Hm.... I know it looks very similar to the one we tried before with no success, but it's ever so slight different.

You might even say it sits a little low in front, which would be a problem if someone's mare didn't WANT her saddle that way.

I was intruiged. I pulled out our old trusting front-lift foam pad, but it was a little too small for the saddle and I thought lifted it just a hair too much.

Fortunately, we now have plan B. I grabbed the thinline pad which I have 1 front shim in and that goes beautifully with our dressage saddle, VOILA!! it looks great.

Please pardon my dusty saddle pad that doesn't fit the saddle. :-/

As you can see, I girthed it up without incident. Izzy didn't make nasty faces and I didn't feel the need to obsess about anything. I had spinal clearance all the way through and everything looked to be sitting right.

Unfortunately, due to a certain incident of a gelding mounting Izzy, her back was a bit sore, so I didn't want to ride her. (Note: she has apparently ovulated and come out of heat, since we escaped the vast gallons of pee she was dumping for all to see before.)

I just lunged her in the round pen to see what we had.

As you can see, she's going along happily, looking around. Her ears aren't locked on the saddle and she isn't making grumpy faces.

Canter is relaxed and comfortable.

This one is a little harder to see in this size, but look how well she's using her shoulders and neck... I had trouble keeping her hind quarters engaged and lunging and taking pictures, so this maybe isn't the best sampling.

Yeah. She was lovely. It was great. I'm going out this afternoon to ride and check on it. Cross your gingers for us. If all goes well, I'll be selling my Collegiate and buying this lovely thing.

Sure is a good thing I took pictures of it last time a cleaned it, huh?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Car Asplode!!

Made it to the feed store yesterday and picked up Mare Magic and some Ugard pellets. All I had to do was run some homemade cookies out to my grandpa for his birthday and I was off to the barn.

Until my car magically decided that it didn't want to go any more. Yes, underneath a no parking sign. Yay. Sigh. Car is in the shop getting the fuel pump replaced and I am at work, stressing about everything that comes to mind. Oh, and Izzy's new supplements are still in the car at the shop. Maybe they'll make my car less hormonal?

Picture of my boys being adorable to cheer me up and balance the hormones.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mare Problems

Izzy is in mad, raging heat. Last time around, this caused us all kinds of physical problems and drama, but her brain was ok. This time, her body is a-ok, and her brain is completely whacked. I'm not sure which is better.

She has always been and is genetically programmed to be a psycho-dominant-alpha-amazonian-style-female. Apparently, hormones screw with that, even to the extent that her horrid gelding boyfriend is currently dominant in the field. When I take her into the barn, she pees for her other boyfriend, the gelding in stall #2. When I say pees, I don't mean "lift the tail and waft some scent". No, she full on pees, depositing gallons of hormone-scented urine right in front of his stall door. She whinnies to him and her other boyfriend and generally makes herself annoying.

Sigh. Mare. I am planning on investing in some raspberry leaves. Maybe they will help, because the smell of urine just isn't doing it for me.

In other news, she's been lovely under saddle. She's more reactive to stimuli then normal, which means she's started spooking again, but on the other hand, she also listens to me better. I can actually get a halt/trot without touching my whip. I have been lunging her in side reins for a few minutes before riding to help with the whole consistent contact thing, but I think I over did it. She got a little over bent yesterday. We'll lay off that for a while.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Goals

Our goals for last month:
April Goals:
1) FORWARD. Read it. Do it. Live it. Until we have forward, we have nothing. One blog post a week addressing how I am researching and applying forward to our world.
Success!! Izzy is still a tiny bit sticky at the walk when I first get on, but she works out of it in just a few strides. Her walk is improved, her trot is amazing, her canter is coming along. I would say the weekly blog post accountability helped us, as did sorting out her physical issues last month. Very excited about this.

2) Cycle back into jumping. The first event derby is in May, so I need to get Izzy and myself comfortable doing 2'3"ish stuff, since our goal is intro beginner novice. (Lame, but I'm chicken.)
Well... we jumped twice, both times just 18" crossrails. It's a start. I'm feeling less rusty and more confident, though I'm going to continue to try to tweak the saddle situation to see if I can find something that will actually work for us.

3) Take a lesson in dressage.
Fail. Not entirely my fault, but still not a success. I tried to plan one several times, but it's a busy time of year for instructors and our schedules just weren't matching up. I am taking a jumping lesson this coming Friday. Hooray! Looking forward to that.

All in all, I'd call April a success. We made some definite and much-needed progress. Now, May goals.

1) Just jump it. Monica is making t-shirts and mine won't look out of place. Jump Izzy at least twice a week. Work on setting little gymnastics and combinations so we can work things out. Be comfortable over low verticals.

2) Conditioning--Work at least once a week on the track, weather permitting. In order to be competitive, we need to continue developing cardiac fitness.

3) Sitting trot. I've been doing it a little, but not nearly enough. Even time the dressage saddle is on, I'm going to spend some portion of the time sitting. Focus on engaging core and relaxing hips.

We can do it!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...