Sunday, May 31, 2009

5/31/09 Ransom

Church was early, and I didn't have any good reason to hang around, so once again, I took advantage of the unscheduled free time. Ran home, changed quickly, and scrambled to the barn. ( o O Again, I could've laid around the house, washed clothes, walked the dogs, watched tv, ripped a handful of CDs and stuck them on my mp3 player, but nope, back to the boys again. O o )

Things went good with Ransom, for the first 40 minutes. I had completed nearly everything I wanted to work on.
Diagonals - corner to corner
Counterbending on the circle at the walk
Canter on contact, both directions
Trot to walk transitions

Got started on transition work, when he decided that was about time to stop cooperating. He started fighting the bit, avoiding contact (which led to more counterbending work), avoiding my leg to keep forward motion (which led to more canter, looking for his gas pedal, and I swear one of those strides, his rear lifted up in the air with some effort), and generally being a stubborn dork. Including warmup, it had been about 50 minutes of work when he wanted to quit. I had only accomplished transition work on the circle heading right, and had left circle left to improve on. After about ten minutes of arguing, he gave in, and relaxed for about four good transitions in and out, and I walked him on a loose rein for another five.

Puffy, sweaty, and generally not happy with his situation, I let him munch some lawn grass before turning him loose. As for unhappiness, we were both there. He was mad he had to work so much, I was annoyed I couldn't get him to mind me. Still, not a complete washout of a work session.

Perhaps tonight we'll pack it out in my hunter saddle, twisted full cheek, light to no contact, and see if mixing it up doesn't help. More walk, little trot, perhaps no canter. If the ride out goes well, I might let him walk around outside the arena as well.

How do ya'll balance it? Do your horses get "bored"? Is that even possible? Do they get annoyed with the repetition? Need different routines every day to avoid frustration? Or is it just dullness from the same work over and over?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

5/30/09 Romeo

A good night's rest under my mind, I sent R off to work for a while, and scrambled home. Boy's away, girl's gonna play... ;) Hurried through coffee & cereal, got dressed, and ran to the barn... How awful.. I could've done all kinds of things that morning (including sleeping in, as the offer was extended, and was horribly tempting), but I couldn't wait! I'd gone a few weekends in a row without rides, and this one wasn't passing me by.

Grabbed the little fart, with my new bit in-hand. Much like what we showed in, with a bit shorter cheeks, and copper wraps instead of the twist around the lifesaver. I will need to figure out a way to shorten the curb chain, as it had absolutely zero contact on his chin.

Otherwise, a pretty good ride. We did have one or two arguments about staying in an easy canter. After the transition up, I'd let him go his way for a bit, then just barely grab contact (barely!), and try to slow him. A number of times, he'd slow to that UGLY fast trot. Those were rewarded with harsh back-ups, and since he quickly realized those weren't any fun.

Worked for about 45 minutes, with a good ten minute cool down walk. It wasn't particularly hot, but insanely humid, and as a result, Romeo was breathing pretty hard. Puff Puff Puff.. Let him enjoy a little more lawn grass, in some effort to put off mowing. I hoped if he'd mow it for me, I wouldn't need to cut so much. My patience ran out before he got a decent patch chewed down, and turned him back out.

Spent the rest of the day goofing off, being entirely useless to society. Intended on getting the mower working, but it's worse than I originally thought. I was hoping it was just a dead battery, but a brand new one didn't accomplish anything. Shoot! More work to be done there. In the meanwhile, I started hunting for an arena fairy to mow & drag.. All kindsa weeds & nasties growing in there, nearly 5-6" tall, making riding other than on the rail a little complicated.

Friday, May 29, 2009

5/29/09 Ransom

R had to work for the day, so I took full advantage of my day off. We had breakfast together, then he headed out. I ran errands, got some shopping done, startled the fellas at the feed store (a girl in a skirt will do that, I suppose), got my housework finished up, and grabbed Ransom.

It was one of those days I felt like, "Wow. He's cool!" Ransom had a great 45 minute work out, with a lot of counter bending at the walk, and a bit at the trot. He tilted his nose out on a trot circle left, and then bent his whole neck, as if to say, "Yeah, Mom, I know it's coming, so just go on & do it." Stinker! Ain't no fun to discipline you if you already know it's coming.

I did bit him with a Sprenger Aurigan French link O-ring I have. It was Chewie's favorite bit. Ransom seemed to like it, because he gave quite a bit. I set it up with my new dressage bridle. As I put it on him for the first time, and put the flash over his mouth on, I hesitated. I was totally unsure how it would go, but he was a good sport. He did fight the contact a bit less than he has in the full cheek slow twist. I figured it was a good sign.

R came back to town after big-city adventures, showed up at the front door (a bit to my surprise), flowers in-hand. Hmmm... :) Kinda startin' to like this spoiled state I'm in.. Might could get used to it, don'cha know!

With all the chores complete, and all my boys home safe & sound, I slept like a solid rock all night.. *sigh* spoiled,,, yup, that's it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

5/28/09 Romeo

It was an evening that, after a long week of work, about the last thing I wanted to do was feel like I was working on a horse. I haven't had to think hard on Romeo for quite a while, so I grabbed him.

Saddled him up Western, but, to avoid any serious arguments, I grabbed his copper french link o-ring, and headed to the arena. He was quite a bit fresh on his free warm-up, with a couple good bucking hops. Booger!! Get it out of yer system now, 'cuz Momma don't need none of that nonsense!

He was a champ. As we say at work, "A-grade, automatic, no issues." Good walk, trot, canter, a little stickie on his spins & rollbacks, but to be expected since I hadn't been practicing in a while. His canter to jog transitions weren't too bad, though we may end up needing spurs for the up transition, because he was a little slow to respond. Transitions down, however, phenominal. He would very quickly slow to that pretty little WP jog.

We played together for about 40 minutes, then chilled hand-grazing on the lawn in the front yard afterwards. Somethin' about hopping on bareback in a halter, and letting him munch. Very relaxing... indeed.

Ziggy 05/28/09

Awesome! Even Ziggy knows when to appreciate a chemist! Why, look at that safe packaging he's eating from? And the nifty preservatives in the food that kept it from molding and growing nasties? And the bib - I bet it's plastic, too.
Okay, honestly, I'm sure Tom Wilson meant some sarcasm here. He probably was smacking Chemistry as a whole for "processed foods". Still, I'm glad for the publicity, even if it's bad publicity. It gives me a great opportunity to bring attention to the Plastic industry as a whole, and remind folks we do good!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5/26/09 Ransom lesson

Lesson with Ransom in dressage focused on a few questions I had, and test-driving a few solutions for some habits he's picked up.

First up, I learned at Barbara's, to get Ransom bending at the poll & rounding his back, to flex the reins using my entire arm, not just finger-wiggles. This was new, since the last two dressage instructors I found (including Sam), always said to only use fingers, nothing more. I asked Jen for clarification, and now need to change some habits. Without knowing it, I was flexing my arms opposite his front shoulders. For example, left shoulder forward, left hand was flexing the bit. Right shoulder forward, right hand. That's discouraging forward motion, and I need to learn the opposite. Re-train my upper body to flex him left shoulder back, left hand, and right shoulder back, right hand.

Ransom has also started trying to evade bit contact by bending his head to the outside. He'll mostly lean his nose to the outside. Solution? Counterbending at the walk, eventually the same at trot. We worked on counter bending on a 20m circle, but also on the long sides at walk. Ransom fought fought fought! He got better, and this will take more practice. He did recognize that release from the counterbending was a relaxing, and gave with a nice inside bend for a while after.

We also worked on diagonals across the arena. I did a lot of diagonal corner to corner at the trot, focusing on trotting way into the corners. I expect once I get the arena mowed down this will be a bit easier. We also did a lot of transitions from collected walk to loose rein walk, along diagonals, and across that long side - to X - same long side opposite end off-diagonal yuckie thing (in Intro test B,,, yuk!). Moving off deep into the corners helped these diagonals get much better.

Also did a few handfuls of transitions in and out of walk/halt, and walk/trot. Ransom was a bit stiff in down transitions in the lesson, and got better as we moved along. More things to work on.

Lesson time was about an hour. Only one little batch of canter, but a lot accomplished at walk and trot, with much homework to complete.

* Transitions! Last week, lather, rinse, repeat
* Counterbending at walk, maybe trot, on circle and on long sides
* Diagonals! Dive deep into the corners, and start looking ahead down the diagonal as I approach the corners.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5/25/09 Ransom Hunter

5/23 Saturday - hanging around town, getting into mischeif, fun, and chaos. No rides...
5/24 Sunday - church, see above, repeat repeat

5/25 I stumbled outside early morning, hoping my lawn mower would start up (after a night on the charger). Click-Click. No such luck.

So I took advantage of the scheduled time alone, and saddled up Ransom. I stuck him in my HDR Event saddle for the first canter ride in the arena. He seems to fit it very well, and it also fit me well.

Best way I can describe it - different. In Barbara's dressage saddle, I felt my "middle" was behind my pelvis, in my dressage saddle, the "middle" is just about on my pelvis bones - it's a little hard to lean back behind them. In the event seat, it was all forward. To feel in the middle of Ransom's gait, and in the saddle securely, I felt pitched just a bit forward. In front of my pelvis, upper torso leaning ever so lightly forward, just barely in the saddle.

We worked for about an hour, losing track of time, walk, trot, and canter. Canter both directions was solid, and a bit collected, but it was really hard to stay in the saddle. Much easier to let the saddle come up to me, heels way down. I didn't drop a stirrup this time, either direction. I also found the sitting trot a bit easier in that saddle - sunk low into my heels, hips tipping forward & back. Ransom had some good collection in all three gaits, with pretty good transitions, so I must assume the saddle suited him well.

So the event saddle has been "conquered" in a way. I'm not in a nice solid sitting canter, but it's been accomplished without incident.

Jen and I attacked a few clothing stores head-on around lunch time, preparing for my upcoming vacation at the end of June. I found two swimsuits that both look pretty good, a pretty black silk sundress, and two silk wrap skirts. Pretty neat little design pattern, and, if I get that proficient that I can create a number of dresses & skirts, it'll make an even neater package. In her anticipation (!), Jen gave me a very early birthday present at lunch. Very nice padded dressage bridle with flash & flat reins. Very very nice! Funny, it was completely disassembled. Sitting in the restaurant, I insisted on putting it together. Each time our waiter came over to the table, he'd get an even more curious look on his face. :) All that leather strapping on the lunch table, probably did intimidate the fellow a bit. LOL

5/22/09 Went Something Like This ...

R: "Going to ride after work today?"
Me: "Yeah, I suppose for a while."
R: "Ransom or Romeo"
Me: "Romeo. Ransom worked yesterday, and will appreciate the day off."
R: "Call me when you're done."

Romeo was great. We rode western, really just plunking around. Well, it started out that way, then I quickly realized I was riding him at canter like I do Ransom - pushing him up into the bit.

We did plenty of trot to canter transitions. Romeo wasn't interested in easing into them, more a catapult... they got better the more I did. Total ride time about 45 minutes, including push into long & low cool down trot.

R and I hiked out for dinner, and a relaxing evening. Lots of great conversation, catching up after being apart for a few days. Kind of like coming back to normal after a little withdrawal. A very good evening.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Bit of Reflection

to now...

Anybody else see the difference? Jen sent me an email, praising the new found confidence.

I've gone, in 5 months with Ransom.. From being terrified to hold a canter-left in the round pen, western saddle...

To sitting a canter without stirrups, dressage saddle, in the arena, all the way around...
Pushing my horse forward into collection...
Insisting on a good ride, every ride

Whee! Take two, huh?

5/21/09 Ransom

Worked with Ransom on all the same basics, with plenty of effort. I had my mp3 player going in my ears, and it turned out, for the first time, I needed music with more energy! See, for years, I've been leaning on New Age instrumental stuff like George Winston and Enya. I needed the slower music to calm my mind, and focus on my posting energy. Yeah, well, the slower the music got, the slower Ransom got. At one point, I took my earbuds out, and started to post freely with his motion, and he got bigger strided. How funny! So, I pulled out the Daughtry and Fiona Apple, and got back to my ride. His forward motion improved considerably.

We warmed up solid, then sprung into some canter sets. His left canter was a bit ugly, but nothing I can't stick with. Heading right, I didn't have heels-down in the transition, so I dropped my outside stirrup. Laughing, I let go of the left one, and kept cantering. We not only cantered two solid circles without, I made it almost the whole trip around the arena, before legging my inside leg drift loose, and he quickly broke to trot. LOL What a funny! I was giggling at the canter, heading around the arena in collection, without stirrups. I noticed without them going right, I had my upper leg solidly on my horse. Heading left, I wasn't able to capture quite the same feeling.

While I was cantering without stirrups, it wasn't but about three or four strides of trot before I started losing balance and had to retrieve them. Wonder what's going on there... Something to think about for the next ride.

Ransom and I worked for nearly an hour, focusing near the end on lots of transitions. Rather than stay on the circle, I travelled all the way around the arena on the rail. I mixed it up a lot, changing gait from walk & trot often, and in different places. We had some beautiful transitions, and some nasty ones. For the really pretty ones, I'd stay in trot only a short while before transition to walk, and if the down transition was good, too, I'd walk a few strides on collection, and let the reins out completely, with a solid "atta boy" and a pat.

About half way through the ride, we were both getting bored & distracted, so I changed it up a bit. Heading right at trot, heading towards the barn, once, I lifted to 2-point, and Ransom immediatley went back to being a hunter-horse. Cute! His trot stride lengthened, lengthened, and by the first short-side corner, he was nearly in a canter. So I squeezed him up into it, allowing him to canter the circle in 2-point, and it was pretty darn incredible! He wasn't collected by any stretch of imagination, and though not "dressage-beautiful", and quite fast-feeling, I still felt like I had control. It was pretty darn cool! I slid back to my seat, told him, "shhhh buddy..." sat like a rock, and he slid down to a trot, then down to a walk. Licking, chewing, and a big sigh, we rested with a long rein walk.

Finished up the ride with some solid stretching down trot from back in my days riding with Sam. Outside rein contact, inside pulse, and for every stretch down, release inside rein totally. Ransom picked up on the game quick, and we had some awesome long & low stretches to cool down our ride.

Friday Fill Ins

1. Moving stinks . I've done it too many times in the last few years, and I don't enjoy it one bit.

2. Nothing is free. Some things are worth every bit of effort, though.

3. My best quality is um, wow... can I get back to you on this? *grin* No, seriously, determination. I might not figure it out right now, but I will... I absolutely will.

4. Happiness is in the details.

5. In nearly 10 years, I've lived in six places, in three states.

6. A quiet evening, and a good night's rest is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing R after a long work week, tomorrow my plans include mowing the lawn, riding Ransom and Sunday, I want to get Romeo out of the arena on a hack in the neighborhood, and relax!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/19 Lesson - Inspiration

Warmed Ransom up, and jumped on pretty quickly. Before my lesson began, we worked on a solid amount of collected walk, a little light trot, and a tiny set of canters. At the trot, as long as his neck was low, I left the reins really loose. When he'd toss his head up, I was right back on contact, waiting on the relaxation. At the canter, I focused on myself, pushing him forward into the strides, making sure he was actually going to canter in my lesson.

For the lesson, I showed Jen most of the things from my BRM lesson that I could remember. Elbow -not wrist- for moving the bit and getting flexion at the poll. Sitting underneath myself, pushing forward with rein & leg. Ransom collected himself beautifully at the trot, and even a little at canter.

After demonstrating all I knew from BRM, we focused on transitions walk to trot, and a few light sets at canter. Again, some of the transitions were beyond ugly, and a handful were very nice.

Total lesson (including warmup) was about 1hr 20minutes. Ransom didn't seem incredibly tired, but a little wore out, which was to be expected. We did a lot of collection work, and now that Jen and I know what he's capable of, I fear the big bay monster will be doing much more of this work in the months to come.

Homework.. hmm.. homework. Darn ! I honestly don't remember.. I'm sure Jen will pop in here soon to read, and will comment on what I'm supposed to be doing that I don't remember. *grin*

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Politics Off Post - They Got it Right!

Wow.. The Dems woke up, put their pants on, and did the right thing..

FoxNews headline...
Senate Dems Pull $80 Million in Gitmo Closure Funding, Oppose Transfer of Detainees to U.S.
""Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats not only oppose the release of detainees into the United States but also oppose the transfer of detainees to U.S. prisons.
"We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States," he said, adding: "Part of what we don't want is for them to be put in prisons in the United States. We don't want them around in the United States." ""

Holy Crap! They got it right! Awesome! Leave the Prisoners where they be!

New Bloom!

A church friend loaded the back of my truck last fall with perennials for my flower gardens. Among them was a large patch of daylily plants. Daylilies are my favorite! I stuck them in the ground, watered, prayed, and hoped they'd get to bloom before the deer find them.

Well, last night I came home to a Stella D'Oro bloom in the flower bed by my back porch. Looks beautiful, smells wonderful. Daylilies are my favorite because they're absolutely beautiful to look at, but they last only a brief time. I like having them around to remind me to take care of the garden, and appreciate the small blessings. Hmmm.. a little bit like life, huh?

5/18 Ransom

First thought, the saddle does make a difference. I found it very difficult last night to feel my upper leg on the saddle (or on the horse). Contact was on my calves, up against the saddle flap. Made for a more difficult ride. I did find the canter work a little easier than last week, but still difficult to completely sit my bottom down in the saddle. When I did, I felt waaaay behind him.

Ransom had spent the day conjuring up plans to make my ride difficult. Our canter transitions were a battle. He didn't want to go into it, and sure didn't want to stay there. After a few decent canters, I spent nearly 30 minutes solid focused on collected trot. He wanted a loose rein, I wanted collection & attention. Finally, he decided that arguing with me wasn't getting him anywhere, and the ride got easier.

A brief description, but honestly, it wasn't BRM Friday, but still better than our rides last week or the week before.

Lesson tonight. Plenty to discuss with Jen about the BRM lesson, feed concerns, and immediate future goals with Ransom. Oh yeah, and I'll get to ride, too. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

5/17/09 Romeo Up Again

In blue jeans, I decided at the last minute to hop on Romeo English. I got all of his tack on, including the running martingale, french link bit, and off we went. I gave him another five minute sprinting warmup, and when I knew I had his attention, I got on.

Interesting to translate the rider-things I learned from my last few lessons to Romeo. My canter seat was pretty impressive. Romeo was slow to transition, but after 2-3 ugly strides, we settled into nice sit-canter around the rail. I felt a bit like I was pulling on his mouth to keep his attention, but it still felt pretty good.

We worked on quite a bit of canter before working on collected trot work. His canter is quick, but controllable. The trot was sweet! A decent pace for his little body, and he didn't fight the bit near like he has been.

A good near hour's work total. It was incredible to take the information I learned in my recent lessons and "translate" it into my other horse.

5/16/09 Romeo's Back to Work

Saddled Romeo up Western, preparing for an interesting ride. He'd had some time off, so I gave him a solid warmup free lunge around the arena. He bucked & farted quite a few times, but calmed down, so I got on.

His first burst of canter, his hiney came up in the air a bit, which I rewarded by making him run run run around the arena a while. Nothing I found fun, but obviously he thought being goofy was the right answer.

We worked on walk, trot, canter, all on a loose rein, in the western bit, for a solid 45 minutes. He was back on track, but certainly not 100% focused on me. The weather was showing signs of change, so I was glad I rode in the morning.

Early evening brought plenty of rain to town, but not so much to my house. Everything was wet, suggesting less than an inch total. That's fine - I was happy not to have puddles crowding my pasture.

5/15/09 Blue Ribbon Lesson 1

I number it, because I see many more of these in our future. Ransom, R, and I all headed out, surprisingly by 6:00am. I say "surprising", because I felt like I was running late all morning. I wasn't, obviously, but I felt like it. Had some trouble getting the truck & trailer hooked up (note to self: don't leave the trailer crooked on the pad - this only makes backing up to it entirely too difficult).

Got a good hour down the road, BOOM! Driver's side, front axle, trailer tire. Well, snot! That's the last "old" tire on the trailer. Good thing R tagged along for the trip, 'cuz I would've woke him to come help - The lugnuts were a horrible pain to get off, and, about 45 minutes later, we were all back on the road. Considering a tire blew up, the trailer was elevated off the ground a while, and there was traffic around, Ransom did well. He wasn't entirely patient, but he did do well.

Arrived at BRM about a half hour late, I believe good considering the tire incident. Ransom went to a stall to chill while I changed clothes & gathered my things. We ended up having a dressage lesson in the open jump arena. I got Ransom ready (another note: He stands GREAT in cross ties, considerably calmer than even at home at the trailer), and gave him a brief lunge warm-up.

The lesson was phenominal. Started out between walk & halt, working on my core body strength. Barbara gave me a stretch to work on at halt, and at walk, "standing" in the saddle without stirrups. She told me to move upwards as quick as I wanted, but to focus on moving back down as slow as I could. Ransom played the game well, walking around like a soldier.

A bit into the lesson, we switched out saddles, and I rode in one of her dressage saddles. It was custom made, specifically for a short hip to knee length, with big knee rolls. As I sat down in it, she said to me, "Sometimes tack makes the difference. Now you will probably realize how those dressage riders sit the big trots, and ride the big canters without effort. You won't hear me tell you now where to put your knees or your legs, because there's nowhere else for them to go but the right place." It was pretty incredible, as the lesson moved forward...

Moved onto trot work. I concentrated very hard on shoulders, heels, and sitting behind my pelvis. I didn't hear, to my surprise, "heels down, shoulders back", but she did catch me with my fingers barely around the reins. ARgh! A bad habit that surfaces every now & then. At the trot, she spread my hands out a few inches, and gave commands for inside rein, outside rein, and leg cues. Next thing I know, Ransom is on the bit, in a long & low dressage frame, with a rounded back, in a big working trot. Completely beautiful to ride.

Barbara gave us a walk break, got Ransom back into that framed trot, and said to me, "Okay, come canter." I thought o O (Oh boy, here goes nothing. It's either going to be beautiful, or horrid) O o Our first canter-right wasn't amazing, and I knew I was leaning forward. A little of that, and we walked. She said to me, "Had that been a hunt saddle, I would tell you now it's amazing, looks great. But you're riding dressage, and we'll need to work on your position." I wish I could remember the other things she said, but whatever it was, it worked.

Come Canter. Beautiful work of art. I was sitting down, behind completely in the saddle, upper body moving fowards & back with Ransom's motion, and for that moment, I felt just like those big dressage riders. I swore to myself, Barbara, and R watching on that I was leaning back, but all insisted I wasn't.

Ransom broke gait from canter heading right. Barbara explained it was because, after rounding him, framing him on the bit, I was so satisfied my seat was correct, I forgot to add leg. Thinking to myself, o O (How cool! I've graduated out of "just stay on" to "let's adjust your legs and seat to keep him forward) O o

We changed direction, and repeated the same.
Come canter. Amazing yet again. After a canter set left, we talked a while, got him back up in a beautiful round working trot, and cantered again. This time, she even had me working on inside leg, inside rein, framing him again. Barbara said to me, "Now, more rein, and think "short". See if he'll shorten that stride. Right there! Good girl! Beautiful!" Ransom gave me about six strides of that beautiful short-strided dressage canter. Amazing! "Walk him out, good ride."

I learned so much, in a 45 minute lesson. There was a crowd at the rail, too. Two other students, and another lady were there watching us intently. There was another rider in the arena, but she politely stayed clear at the other end. An awesome ride, over all. One I want to repeat many more times.

Ransom trailered home politely. We stopped at a Discount Tire Co on the way home to replace the spare. Kudos to them in their Katy TX location for quickly shuffling customers, keeping the horse out of standing baking in the trailer! Hip Hip Hooray Thank you! If you're in the area, and tire shopping, they've got speedy polite service for equine haulers.

Other than a blown tire, it was a great day! I had a wonderful ride, good company, and made some new good friends. Barbara is going to be a resource for a long time coming, I think.

5/14/09 Preparations

Saddled Ransom swiftly after work. (Okay, sneakie me, knowing I really needed the extra time, I left work 2 hrs early, got a haircut, then went home to ride.)

Our ride was mediocre. Ransom was awfully lazy, and, not wanting to wear him out for Friday, I took it easy on him. A bit of trot, and a decent amount of canter on the circle, after about 40 minutes, I called him "done". He moved out on easy leg cues, but stumbled some, and seemed to be dragging on the bit a lot. I had a difficult time keeping his mind on me - not that he was lookie lookie, but just not focused.

Gave him a good bath, got him all groomed up, and any last-minute primping I could handle. I cleaned out the trailer, organized my things & my thoughts, and called it a night.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

5/13/09 New Feet, Haircut

Both boys got new hooves last night. Romeo trim & reset, Ransom trim & new shoes! Cool!! He'll be fantastic Friday now! =) Thanks to Mr D for rearranging his calendar to fit the boys in before our trip.

Borrowed a pair of thinning shears from Jen, and I went to town on Ransom's mane last night while he ate supper. He stood perfectly quiet, didn't throw his head around, didn't argue with me at all. I not only got it thinned out considerably, I also got it shortened quite a bit. It's not super super short, but a bit less than half what it was. Fantastic!

Tonight, we ride, bathe, and pack for the trip. Much to accomplish, so at least enough hours of daylight to get the jobs done.

Countdown to BRM - 1 day! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

5/12/09 Lesson

Ransom is the man! He's the ultimate teacher, and we had a great ride. Worked on a brief side-rein warmup, which he did well with. To keep building muscle, I ought to use the side reins more often.

Lesson total was a good hour's work. I quickly got into the plans of my lesson, with canter-left work. I felt pretty solid... see the past tense there? "Felt"... Jen kept telling me, "sit back on your pockets, lean back, relax your tummy". I told her, "Yeah, and one of these days I'll figure out how to do that." Funny to me, I was having a whole conversation talking about cantering him headed left on the circle. *giggle* Who would've thought I'd be so relaxed I could have a conversation at the canter?! Cool!!

Then my seat changed. We went to the walk, and Jen pointed out my pelvis was exactly where it's supposed to be in the saddle - tucked underneath me. I moved up to a posting trot, and we worked on it there for a while. With my seat underneath, it honestly felt like my legs and feet were in front of me, which Jen assures me isn't true. She said, "Your legs haven't moved, just your seat. Feels different, huh?" I answered, "Yeah, that'll take getting used to. No way I would've done that on my own." I slid in and out of "rightness", changing directions a few times.

With the trot seat about understood, heading right, she said, "Well, get down to that end of the arena where you're comfortable, and pick up a canter. Let's see if it's any different." Oh yeah, it was. My weight felt like it was in two places - balls of my feet on the stirrups, and calves on Ransom's side. I felt a bit "above" the saddle, but in the middle of it. Ransom responded to this new balance with more uninterrupted canter-right than he's done before. At one point, he did break to a trot, and I quickly thought about it, set my hands calm, and squeezed. no grabbing mane or saddle pad first! It was a really sweet transition, and again a really nice canter-right.
(In my standard analyzing fashion, at the end of that canter, I stopped, thought about it, and realized where my weight was. It's still not perfect, but for the first time, the canter-right felt better than the left, and quite a bit more secure. Pretty cool to be in the gait long enough to work on it, for sure.)

Worked on more posting trot, focusing on my new seat position. Ransom became agitated, thinking the lesson was near over. Sorry, fella. Switched it up, alternating between posting & sitting trot, the sit feeling very different than it ever has.

So, neat stuff, and learned two important things.. Two "Lightbulbs", which seem to happen every time I ride Ransom.
#1 Tuck my pelvis underneath me, pay no attention to that "legs in front" feeling. If I feel leaning forward, I am, and adjust accordingly. Looking forward to getting some video of the differences in my body position at all gaits to learn from.

#2 Just because Ransom thinks he's done, he's not. Push him a bit further than he thinks he needs to go, and begin ending the rides all over the arena - in the middle, at the end opposite the gate, in the corners, on the rail, etc. Mix up the "ending" to the rides so he gets out of the habit of anticipating when we're done.

Fantastic hour & a half total work session. We had a blast, and learned much.

Mr Dale Farrier comes to the house today. Both boys will be appreciating that, as will I. Ransom in new feet will be perfect for Friday. Countdown to BlueRibbon - 3 days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

5/11/09 Ransom's Up Again

Feeling much better, and entirely confident on the way home from work, I was pretty anxious to get to riding. Saddled Ransom up dressage, again, skipping the side reins. I might tack those on for a few minutes tonight. I've been entirely focused on my ride, and not on his "form". He goes easy & good, and it seems a little ahead of the game to be worrying that he looks pretty, too.

Brief free warmup around the arena, for about ten minutes. He got a little goofy going right, I think because of boredom, a feature I've seen in Ransom before. So I put his bridle on, and got on.

I have learned a few things..

#1 my leathers need switching. I will get that done tonight. I might need to figure out how to punch a hole mid-way in one. The right stirrup sure felt longer last night.
#2 legs are getting looser, and still more secure
#3 canter-seat was MUCH improved last night, even heading right.

Got some good canter-left in, low-end circle. Same for canter-right, though I had to keep adding leg, because he kept breaking out of it to trot. Makes me wonder if there's anything more relaxed about my canter-right seat that I don't realize.

Worked on lots of trot in a sort of pattern. Circle low end, all the way around, repeat. Did this twice left, twice right, then walk once. Twice left, twice right, walk once. He wasn't anticipating it, so I guess it was mixed up enough only I knew what was going on.

Just for giggles I tried one walk-canter transition left. :) Yeah.. it was about six trot strides before the canter. I will admit, the canter seemed a little more controlled. Well, it was until I accidentally pushed with my inside leg. OOPS! Ransom sure knows what that means! I got about 3/4 of the circle really big strides before he realized it was an accident, and I really didn't want him moving that big. =)

Cooled out with a long walk on a loose rein. Cows in the neighbor's pasture have started having their calves, and there were two little calf-lets bouncing with the herd last night. *giggle* cute little stinkers! It's probably not nice of me, but they looked yummy. :)

Ransom lesson tonight, last-minute "work ons" before Friday. Countdown to BlueRibbon - 4 days.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Must be the Wind...

As I figured, that FoxNews article (& the inappropriate photos) disappeared about as fast as they appeared. Good decision, guys! No way that junk should've made it to the website to start out with, let's not even discuss it being on the FRONT PAGE! Absolutely no respect for women.. Just because some folks choose to look at that stuff doesn't mean I want the general public getting it for free, nor do I want young kids accidentally finding it.

Even at Fox.

May 11, 2009 Fox News Headlines

Okay, I won't even give them the link in the post... I understand this whole "Miss America half nude photo scandal" is a big deal...

But seriously, folks. If you got to the website before they realize they're dorks & change the front page, do they honestly realize children probably visit that site during a school day?

Yes, the essentials are covered, but not by much. In my opinion, highly inappropriate for a Conservative News website front page.


5/10/09 Can't Keep Me from Riding

Hah! I sneer at illness! I snarl at infection! Nasty cough & fever, you think you can keep me out of the saddle?! HAH! Snarl Sneer...

R kept me occupied most of Sunday, but, finally, after a late afternoon nap, I was determined. We arrived to the boys about 7:30pm. Sunset to "useless amount of light" around 8:30pm. That meant a little ride.

Saddled Ransom up dressage, gave him a free run around the arena, which was incident-free, stunning for having nearly a week off. I hopped on, and got down to business quick.

Canter-left. I kept dropping my right stirrup in the up transition - Must concentrate on heels-down, and quit putting outside leg so darn far back for the request. I did get good run of canter in all the way around the arena, which is fantastic. At the back corner of the arena, Ransom stumbled just a niblit. He pulled himself back upright, right back into canter. I dropped both stirrups, grabbed the left back quicker than the right, laughing hard. He's such a babysitter, it just makes me laugh.

In the trot-right, I was able to get him relaxed enough to sit for a few moments. I noticed that this time, his trot was very left-right swinging. Very easy to sit once we got in rhythm with each other. Worth noting, as I hope we'll be able to pick up more of this in future rides.

Countdown to Blue-Ribbon Friday, 5 days. Tonight I ride solo. Tuesday lesson. Wednesday off. Thursday I ride, Friday we leave. OI! I've bumped Ransom up on grain just a hair, and I'm watching weight & energy. He gave out on me right at about a half hour's work. Turned out that wasn't such a tragedy , because it was 8:30pm and darn-near dark at a half hour. Hosed him down, and fed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Has Anyone Seen my Motivation?

aHH. Yes, there it is. Right next to the #$*(& antibiotics. Talk about kicking my hiney... ARGH

It took all I had yesterday to clean house & do a few loads of laundry. Now today I thought I'd be a hot head, and push mow the yard. Good grief! Antibiotics Thursday night made me sick, yesterday wore me out, and today, well, they're cleaning out the rest of any possible bacteria within a mile of me. *sigh*

I'm riding Ransom tomorrow if it kills me. That's all there is to it. I haven't mentioned it, trying not to have bad luck, but I'm taking him to Miss Barbara's Friday- ride, lesson, watch her or someone else ride him over fences, and "finish the paperwork". Talk about excited! Making my boy, mine, in any capacity, on paper. :) That'll make it, official & stuff.

Thank God for a boyfriend and a best friend to feed the critters, care for me, and help me concentrate even a little bit on getting better. I will kick this nasty-ness, I really will.. hmph.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And the Doctor says

Holy crap. The fever that was mild took a wild spike last night. I called work a day ahead sick (something I never do), made arrangements for the boys (and indoor kids) to be fed & cared, and headed to town for the night.

Doctor today says infection, prescribed antibiotics & strong cough suppressant. Says "go to work again on Monday."

Guess that means I shouldn't have ridden Romeo again bareback in the yard last night, huh? :) Can't keep the cowgirl down, I s'pose.

I might be MIA for a few days, as a recover. Of course, I might also blog like a nut bored out of my mind, too. Cheers, everyone. I'll be fine, just need a few more days to recover.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Life, Um, Update

A moment worth sharing with everybody that reads, since it brought a big smile to my face..

Someone at work said to me yesterday, "You're different than you've been."
I answered, "Really?! How so?"
"You're happier, and calmer."

Yup.. that about covers it. Yes, work is stressful. Yes, this headcold turned into laryingitis is kicking my hiney. Yes, I am frustrated with a few odds and ends here & there.

But, Yep. I'm happy, I'm more relaxed, and I'm enjoying things more than I have before. I could elaborate, but isn't it just more fun leaving ya'll wondering??

It's in the details, folks.. it's all in the details. If you've been keeping up daily, there's been hints here & there... I've got all intentions on protecting his privacy, and mine. No, don't panic. I didn't run off & get married, and there are no babies on the way (just in case my family is reading this & not telling me). But life is good... very good.

It's Just a Cold

Started feeling a little yuck late last week, with a sore throat that I figured was only allergies, or too many nights with the ceiling fan blasting over my head. Sunday morning I started getting congested, and, again assumed it was another allergy fight.

Monday, yesterday, and today, I'm certain it's a headcold. It's a snarly one, too, with my voice totally gone, a nice cough every now & then, head's a little stuffed, nose is running... mild irregular fever.

But, No, it's not the swine flu. I love how the media made this flu virus sound like the black plague. Now, everyone at work is making H1N1 type A jokes as if I'm going to be so contagious I will kill everyone around me if I remain at work. This virus is simply a weird-named flu, and only the flu. The few fatalities, although very horrible (and I'm sorry for those that have lost loved ones as a result), are usually H1N1typeA combined with something else, usually other long-standing illnesses.

My problem, however, is just a cold. I'll get better.. really...

Being sick means not riding, which sucks, as the weather's been quite cooperative for riding. The boys are waiting patiently, however, as when I'm better, I'll be back at it 100%. I've made great progress recently, and I will pick up where I left off just as soon as I can.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

5/4/09 Double Duty

By accident, I got to ride both boys last night. I was waiting for R and a friend to look at my roof, trying to find where it's been slowly leaking. So I saddled Ransom up dressage, side reins, and tied him to the paddock, with his lunge line, bridle, and my helmet nearby.

It turned out I had some time to kill, so rather than sit inside in front of the TV and vegetate, so I grabbed Romeo. I rode him in his halter to the trailer, but decided that since company was coming, a bit in his mouth for brakes might be needed. I jumped down at the trailer, put his french link in his mouth, and hopped back on. We rode around for about a half hour, walk & jog, with a few turns on haunches, turns on forehand, and a little sidepassing. I also worked on his back-up straight a bit. If he'd back up two or three steps straight, I'd walk off. If he got crooked in two or three, I'd straighten him out while still backing up. Not real sure how to fix this backing up crooked crud, but I will...

R and friend had a change in plans, and weren't going to make it, so I put Romeo up (after some cookies & lots of praise), changed into my riding breeches, and went to grab Ransom. :) Cool that he was already saddled & waiting for me.

Gave him a free run around the arena for a few minutes, then added the bridle, side reins, and lunge line. He started out leaning on the line hard, but quickly realized those side reins weren't going anywhere, so he framed his cute little self up, and worked walk,trot,canter on the side reins for about 10 more minutes.

Grabbed my helmet, got on, and walked a little while. Then we picked up a trot-left.
o O ( Well, if I'm going to start doing this, I better get after it. He's not going to do anything bad, he won't buck, he won't take off, he's never been bad to me & tried to be mean.. Oh crap. Here goes nothing ) O o
Hands even on the reins
Look where I wanted to go on the circle
Hands down on his neck
Grab a teenie tiny patch of mane

Picked up a canter-left, large circle, low end of the arena. Whee! The transition was awesome. He didn't throw himself upwards, didn't tuck his head, just moved his legs into it. We cantered a handful of circles ( see? Another good sign.. I don't even remember how many there were, but I do know it was more than two...), slowed to a trot, and trotted a while left.
Changed direction to trot-right.
o O ( Okay, brain. His right canter is better than his left, and he WON'T Hurt You! It's not your old horse... GET OVER IT! Just breathe) O o
Hands even on the reins
Look where I wanted to go on the circle
Hands down on his neck
Grab a teenie tiny patch of mane
Oh crap, extended trot - My fault, not sitting in the saddle enough
Squeeze again

Off he went. Canter-right, which took a few more strides to get comfortable with. Ransom obviously knew when I had enough, because he transitioned down to trot with the slightest aid from me.

We trotted a while, changed direction plenty of times, even trotted down the long diagonals.

Total work, including walkout cooldown, about a hour.

I had a BLAST! Both boys were good, at their own jobs. Romeo occupied my time, and hauled me around bareback, even stumbling over his own hooves a few times (funny as heck, because two years ago, I would've gotten scared, dismounted, and called it a total wash riding day). Ransom taught me it's okay to canter him without a "saddle handle", and I can balance myself over his middle without a problem. He'll only canter if I sit, otherwise it's just an extended trot. I know I need to work on sitting back, and putting my bum in the saddle during the canter. I do remember thinking "Heels down", and I remember seeing my arms and shoulders moving with his upper body. It wasn't a complete disaster.. But we're certainly getting somewhere, and it's somewhere good.

Monday, May 4, 2009

5/2/09 Grass & Romeo

My riding mower battery decided that, in celebration of the first need of it for the season, to refuse to start. Bah Humbug! Something to put on the "repair me please" list.. grumble grumble

Ended up hand-push-mowing my yard. ARGH! Took a few hours, and my legs were burning afire when I finished up. Exhausting. I haven't hand mowed the whole yard in well over a year, and now I remember why - It takes a long time, and it takes a lot of effort.. yuk

When I got done mowing, I grabbed a quick lunch, looked out in the pasture, and saw Romeo sticking his head out of the stall... "Hey Mom! You in there?" I couldn't resist. Burning legs, tired arms, I changed clothes & headed to the barn.

Saddled him up Western, and used our borrowed bit. First time he threw his head, I let him know what bit I had with a solid tug. Woo! More head tossing. So we backed up, nearly the length of the arena. He settled in nicely after some good canter work, and had great transitions in and out from jog to canter.

About 45 minutes of work - again it felt longer, but we accomplished a lot.

5/1/09 Ransom's Back in Action

Not much more refreshing than saddling up the big hunter man & passenger-riding. That's about what it felt like, too. I saddled him Western, admitting we hadn't ridden together in a while.

Phenominal! Rode for about 45 minutes, which seemed longer because of all we accomplished. Walk, trot, canter, with a good canter-right, our longest yet. I got a few trips all the way around the arena canter-left, and right. =) After some trot work, I deliberately put my hands down on his neck for a short canter circle both ways. Headed left, he picked up the right lead. o O ( Oh shoot! It's wrong... need to down transition, need to look up, oh here comes the corner, we'll fix it after the corner. ) O o Ransom showed me how smart he really is, with a flying change in the corner to the left-lead. :) How freaking cool! We got in a little canter-left and a little canter-right transitions up & down without the saddle horn, which is a good step towards my dressage saddle.

It was a busy day otherwise, with house chores, running errands, and an hour hot stone massage at the spaaaaaaaa... LOL For folks that get the pleasure of hearing me when I talk about the spaaaaaa, that spelling makes more sense. :) For the rest of you, spread the end of that word out really long, and use your most relaxing tone of voice, and you'll get close.


Saddled Romeo in his English gear, and headed to the arena. Whee!!

Walk, trot, and quite a bit of canter. Not a lot of transitions, but a lot of canter. Anytime he'd get rushed or think all transitions were canter only, I'd force him to back up hard. Also worked on a few turns on forehand, turns on haunches. R came over, and watched a little while. We talked about all the differences between Hunter saddle, dressage, all the tests, different competitions, bits, and other stuff. He helped out a bit getting Romeo to back up straight, some of which might have been caused by the running martingale pulling unevenly across the front. I'm not entirely sure, but it got better over time.

Total work about an hour - The Little Man did good.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Fill Ins

Done after the fact, so I'll leave out the final "weekend plans" fill-in.. Here's the rest, though. Looked fun enough to do, even later than normal.

1. The first rule of working in an office and getting along is disagree if you must, but never insist on your opinion as the right answer.

2. I've never tried, and don't intend on trying clams.

3. When I think of carnivals I think of the summer festival up at my parents' cabin from my childhood.

4. Wild daisies are my favorite spring flower.

5. Things on my desk include cell phone, portable mp3 radio, safety glasses, post-its, work calendar, and a large coffee cup.

6. Singing along with the radio makes me wanna smile.