Friday, April 30, 2010

4/30/10 Ending April Better

I guess Ransom knew his “get outta trouble free card” had been used up. We rode together for about 45 minutes. Warm up was a solid ten plus, walking, bending, circles, loose rein trot, canter circles loose. He settled into long & low without me asking, so I took it as a sign he was ready to go.

We rode TL #2 as a reminder, and I found him generally really cooperative. The transitions out of trot weren’t fantastic, but better than they’d been.

Canters were pretty, pretty. Walks to free walk was nice, without him rooting the reins out of my hand – an improvement.

I spent the rest of Friday packing, loading, packing, and reanalyzing everything I’d packed. Saturday brings us a new month, and a dressage lesson at Barbara’s.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

04/29/10 Stiff Monster

Grabbed Ransom after work, after his one day vacation, and planned some dressage basics.

He was having a stiff/sore day. Generally a cantankerous old fart for the entire ride. He was fighting the bit, arguing about forward, leaning out on every circle.

I slowed him down to a nice forward walk, got some really sweet bends and decent work On the bit (not forcing solid collection), progressed up to trot, got more of the same. I got a little canter without head tossing & general anger, and called him “done”.

Given his age and his wisdom, I usually forgive crabby days. He has them so seldom, I just can’t bring myself to argue with him to a great degree on those days.

Total work, 40 minutes.

04/27/10 eeP! That's FUN!

Follow along with my thought process for Tuesday evening...

Geez, Ransom is up to, hmm, Thursday,Friday,Saturday,Sunday,Monday, my gosh... today's day 6! Talk about no gas in the tank if I keep up this level of high energy work?! Okay, let's lunge. Wait, I'm committing to QUIT lunging so much and just ride. Okay, let's grab the western saddle, go goof off. No, that's almost too easy and hard to make long enough to even stretch his legs. Let's grab the bareback pad, that'll do. I'll go to the arena, twisted bit, and have my lunge line just in case he's a doof.

Okay, here we are, at the arena. Aw, heck! This IS day 6! We don't need no stinkin' lunge line, do we baby boy?! Got the bridle on, pad's as tight as I can fix it, wiggle up, Ah, I'm on. And of we are at a walk.

That feels great! I'd swear I was in my dressage saddle if somebody else asked. This is really comfy. Ransom, you're doing great! All sweet long & low. Shorten my reins, ahhh, collected walk is really smooth up here.

Well, better now or never. squeeze, up! cool, a, ew, yuck, this ain't comfy at aLL! yucko trot, Rans. No, ain't your fault. You're collected, but those withers are still up - there. Yuck. Hmm, I'm in a good spot in the arena. Look where you want to go, oh geez, I hope he doesn't...

Squeeze... Yeah, my bad, I know I leaned forward really ugly like. Sorry, dude. Bad idea, maybe you're right. No, we'll never do it if I don't try, squeeze, wadda mane, squeeze.

Oh my holy geepers awesome! EEP! It's a canter! bareback! Holy me! I didn't see those loose reins until right now. Goodness, gather up, ooooooooooooh... my goodness, why do I ever use a saddle?! This bareback collected canter is DA BOMB! exhale, knees.. back to a trot, good buddy.

Ransom and I rode together walk, trot, canter (two sets each direction) bareback for about a half hour.

Alright, dear, I have to know, can I? Squeeze, up to canter, good, one circle, two circle, let's just see... Awwwww freaking YAY! Airplane arms for 7-8-9-10-11-12, yup, that's about a circle, let's gather up & walk it out.

I am reminded on days like Tuesday how blessed I am to have found Ransom. Airplane arms, bareback, at the canter, we made almost an entire circle. And not the whole arena, but about a 35-40m circle - at one end of the arena. He followed my seat & legs the entire ride. We were connected... it was incredible.

Needless to say, Ransom had Wednesday off. I think we both earned it.

One More of Those

I seem to be plagued by someone insisting on commenting in some Asian graphic language.

Knock it off! I am only fluent in English and a bit in American Sign. I don't read that, I won't click your links, and should those comments continue, I'm going to have to moderate comments..

grrrr... Why does there always have to be somebody to spoil the fun?!?!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who are The 15?

After yesterday's post about the vote being up in the House to suspend their automatic pay raise for 2010, I did some digging...

The Senate voted this earlier this year, actually initiated by Feingold (D). Sweet.. I thanked Senator John Cornyn (R) for his part in this.

Then, this morning, I read above where the House voted in the same manner. Way to go Ron Paul (R) for your part in it!

But, 15 House Representatives think they still deserve a raise. I need to drink more coffee and eat some breakfast first here, but I will find out who did it, and I will out their names right here. If you unfortunately live in a state that has a representative that voted AGAINST the raise suspension, thereby saying "They think they deserve the $1400 a year raise" (Or was it $1600, anyways...), I feel bad for you. Get after your Representatives, and tell them how you feel.

And if you think they deserve a pay raise for all their hard work, then I hope you're gainfully employed with all the perks they're enjoying. I'm employed, but I don't know what I'd do with all the perks, bells, and whistles..
Wait, yes I do. I'd own a HUGE horse farm, hire an awesome trainer, and ride my tailfeathers off every day. Or do I already do that last part?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mrs. Mom is right. Cantering bareback is awesome. Details tomorrow.

Their Annual Salary is WHAT?!

Taken directly from a Facebook comment after Representative Ron Paul called for support for his co-authored bill to eliminate pay increases in the House...

Tonight, a House of Reps. bill that freezes congressional pay will come up for vote under Suspension. Everyone should take note on how their own representatives vote on this - during a recession, when many people are getting pay freezes or even laid off, our Congressmen, who are already paid $174K/yr, should be willing to forgo raises. Remember the names of those who vote against this, and FIRE them come November.

Excuse me?! *cough* Almost choked there... $174,000 annually?!

I SERIOUSLY am in the wrong line of work. I could be lying, mistreating, and living on some amazing benefits and STILL have that for an annual salary? No wonder that "Average Joe" Scott 'whatever-his-last-name-was' in Massachusetts wanted the job...

They don't need to stop pay raises, they need to take a pay cut! Get on the phones, and start demanding your Senators and Representatives either take a pay cut, or start earning their checks, doing what we the constituents tell them to do.

04/26/10 Airplane Canter

Absolutely convinced the lunge warmup takes more out of Ransom that it does good, I walked him tacked to the arena in a brisk manner. Bridled, clipped my helmet clasp, and hopped aboard. On Saturday, Jen and I discussed a plan for warming him up without the need of lunging. He's not super stiff, he's almost NEVER galloping goofy anymore, and I need to build the confidence that I can just "get on & ride".

For his warmup, I
-walked once around on the buckle, both directions
-trotted on light contact, serpentines, circles, figure eights, never staying straight for more than 7-8 strides before a direction change
-cantered on a loose rein
In fact, on one long side each direction, I tossed the reins away & tested my airplane arms at canter. Exhilarating is the best word I can use to describe it. I felt like I was flying, Ransom as the pilot. He picked up on the airplane arms almost immediately after I started, I suspect from the more upright less directional body language, and responded back to me by staying right at the rail, never increasing or decreasing speed or stride length. We *must* do this more often.

After ten minutes like this, I got right down to business. I collected, and we focused on all three gaits with lots and lots and lots of transitions. Plenty of direction changes, and I found only one thing that made my butt curl - UGLY trot to walk down transitions. Just UGLY. He was leaning on the forehand, and pulling me out of the saddle. It was taking anywhere from 8 to 10 strides to get down to a walk. I've got a solution, and it's the twisted ring bit. A few days of that ugly monster, I'll have his brain back and we can get pretty transitions again.

Something I LOVED yesterday? Fabulous in and outs from canter. Just fabulous. Something else? Collected walk to free walk. Impressive. No head-tossing, no pulling the reins out of my fingers. We did this work waaay late in the ride, probably another half hour after warmup. He was eager for the break, and let me know that all those hours before giving & taking the bit at walk have paid off.

We cooled down with long & low at canter - I let him chew the reins out of my hands, hold there a stride or three, then collect back the reins, lather rinse repeat. The same at trot, on BIG circles. My new arena no longer holds a 20m circle, it's much more like 30-35m circles. Nice big huge circles to focus on the stretching down trot circles.

Overall, a great ride, with a few snags. I should be able to get those down transitions fixed in the next few days on the other bit. In the meanwhile, I'm going to search for a book, audio lesson, or some online patterns to mix up the rides. I'm going to search for some new exercises to mix up the flat work.

Plans for the weekend ought to be finalized today. As it stands now, it's looking like a Blue Ribbon lesson on Saturday, and Freestyle show on Sunday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

4/25/10 The Application

Another chorus of Veggie Tales.. And so what we have learned applies to our lives today..
oop! *cough* .. *clearing throat* sorry there, folks. Back in action & back on track here.. I'll post a little later today perhaps of a story of Romeo regaining his place of trust with me, but for now..

Late in the day, after the yard was mowed, after the weeds were pulled, flower beds watered, laundry done, bed sheets washed & replaced, I finally got some time in on Ransom. I gathered him up in all his dressage glory, as we're planning to show this coming Sunday.

With all things in the arena, I gave R a quick lesson on how to hold the line & lunge Ransom. This will be particularly beneficial later maybe this week, but for sure next, as I will get back on the line to practice hands-free & stirrup-free hunt saddle. Ransom was ridiculously agreeable. babysitter!

I hopped aboard, and gave him a nice neat warm up. Walking flexed in at out at the rail, circles, serpentines at trot, figure eights of varying sizes at trot, and finally a little long rein canter. Ransom let me know he was "ready for action" by reaching down into the bit at the canter, long, low, and still working through his back. Felt pretty good - him hauling it down the long sides, me sitting straight upright & purdy.

I rode him through Training #1, and without hesitation, he started reminding me this test isn't new - he remembers the parts and where things happen. Well, it was either that, or he was reading my mind. I'm going to test that out a little tonight, because if he's reading even the subtle cues in my brain, getting transitions at the letters could be a challenge. The test wasn't entirely stickie, with only a yuckie transition or two. Otherwise, he settled in nicely.

Then I focused a little on posting to sitting trot, working on keeping my upper body upright straight, and still loose enough in my hips that he'd go forward. This will still take more work - I had the sit going great, but Ransom shortened his stride considerably - maybe a by-product of old hunter/jumper flat classes, where I think this is acceptable. To improve his motion, and keep me loose, I finished up our sitting trot work without stirrups. I stuffed some stirrup-free canter in there, as well.

To let him stretch his brain, and not work hard collected the entire ride, I dropped all the way to the buckle, settled into a nice trot, and tested out my "airplane arms". Magic,, just absolute magic. I glanced down to see the reins flapping out and in and out and in, with every trotting stride. They didn't flap side to side together, but both out, or both in - I think a sign of a nice even steady trot. Regardless, the arms out, reins flapping, we went both ways, mostly long sides only, just picking up reins at the buckle to guide him around at the rail. Once he got the point of the work, he even made full laps without my even touching the reins. Neat!

Finally, to make sure things had loosened up in his muscles, and there wasn't some train-wreck part needing work all week, I did some collected transitions for all three gaits, both ways. Stellar! We argued once in trot to canter left, as either my cue wasn't solid, or Ransom was getting lazy, because he extended the trot, got really bouncy & ugly, but wouldn't pick up canter. Squiggles! I thumped him, got a good circle full at canter, slowed to trot, then asked again. Much better Monster! Good deal!

As I said, we're competing this coming weekend. Sunday, at Freestyle Farms, the same place we took in our first show together last year. I've also decided to join the local Dressage Society, so now we're dead-set serious. I'm going to ride, I'm going to compete, and darn it (!), I want to be good at it! =)

tee hee hee hee,, who wants to dig up an old terrified ride blog, and compare notes?

Back to the purpose of the airplane arms- I got really really upright, and was able to focus

4/24/10 I Just Flew In

And boy are my arms tired! Jen and I got off to a nice early start Saturday with a very productive lesson.

We spent nearly an hour on the lunge line, actually losing track of time, focused on "airplane arms", and the new point of balance. There were very few loss of balance moments - Some of what I'd done Friday made me think that, when I had my arms up & out, my legs were out in front of me. Such is not the case. I've become so used to the old/wrong body position, that I need to learn my legs are in fact right where they're supposed to be - under me!

The trot work in the airplane arms is hard work, canter is much easier. It was nice to feel only slightly out of the saddle, and very very upright in the tack. It will take much more repetition to become very good at this, but I'm well on the way.

I hope the next lunge lesson to be in the airplane arms without stirrups at all three gaits. It's a lofty idea, but Ransom is super peaceful on the lunge, and knows his job is just to keep on going, and keep me in the middle.

04/23/10 Both Again

Ransom and I muddled around through some hunter flat work. I was trying to settle into straight back & shoulders while maintaining the "in control" feeling in the saddle. I had a few incidents of feeling like I'd fall forward and splat. At the walk, I did a few go's of "airplane arms", and felt pretty secure. I didn't make any attempts at this at trot or canter. I also stayed pretty much out of two-point, hoping the Saturday lesson would resolve any imbalance issues.

Romeo, R, and I headed to the arena. Mo had one thing on his cute little mind when I jumped in the saddle - RUN! And we did. That little fart can FLY when he is encouraged. The new large arena is just right to get a long gallop going down the long sides, and still stay decent on the wider short sides. R was scouring the arena for wire, glass, and other assorted "arena digging prizes", and we met up again at the mounting block.

I let Romeo catch his breath, because while he is out of shape, his recovery after a run like that is amazing. Two minutes or less, and he's right back to normal, standing there calm and quiet. I hopped down to grab a drink, and said to R, "So, wanna take him for a spin? Let him run like a madman with you?!" He actually took me up on the offer, and swung up in the saddle.

And Romeo 100% switched gears. He became the perfect prince, walking, and at any shift in body weight, or balance change, he'd slam on the brakes. R gave him a few hard leg nudges to get him walking, and I had to caution him, "Watch how much leg you use, or he will take you seriously." I only made one habit change in the saddle - Hold the reins, don't just carry them. He had his thumb & fingers barely holding, and all the other fingers all sprawled out like he was holding a china tea cup. "Hold the reins tight, so he doesn't pull them out of your hand." I also taught him that "Whoa" means stop now, and showed him where the "Emergency Brake" is. (That's something I ought to get video of, because it's pretty frigging cool. If you reach forward and rest your hand on his mane just in front of the saddle pad, and tell him, "Whoa", he'll stop - no bit pressure required. At the faster gaits he'll break gait but not necessarily stop. At the walk, it's automatic.)

Including his walking & babysitting, Romeo had about an hour of work. I rode him for about 25 minutes, and R for another 25. He was happy as a drunk punch bowl when we got done, licking & chewing in satisfaction. "How'd I do, Mom? How'd I do?"

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Fill Ins

1. Where are my allergies coming from?

2. If wishes were horses I’d really be broke.

3. I'd like to see myself in airplane arms on Ransom, and without them.

4. When I was a teen, I thought I wanted to be in the “cool crowd”.

5. One of my mother's favorite sayings was “When you grow up, I hope you have a child just like you”.

6. I'd have a hard time doing without my sanity. Oh wait, every day is like that.

04/22/10 Shut Up & Ride

I was tired. I had a long day, got out of work late, getting home seemed to take longer than normal. I got in the door, and muttered a host of excuses for only lunging all the way to bareback hacking, and general equestrian goofing off.

I gathered my riding pants, changed, found Ransom, got him saddled, and got to business. He warmed up free lunge really pretty - taking himself on quite the crazy gallop, ears up, stretching out. He was super happy to be out, moving free, and off that pesky lunge line. It was fun to watch.

I know I'm not going to make any new progress, or reach any show goals if I don't get my bum up there, and darnit he's too fancy & too good to stand in the pasture & be a trail ornament. So I hopped on. I put my practice gloves on, but realized they've reached their final wash of usefulness - they're stiff, uncomfortable, and feel waaay too thick to feel reins in my fingers. So I stripped those off, and got back to it.

Ransom was stiff & a little fussy, but it was to be expected - He really didn't want to collect, since he's had some time off for arena work & his little leg booboo. I got some nice collected work out of him, but it was short-lived, before he started leaning on his front end and trying to pull me down with him. Down the long sides he would extend, but not rush. THAT was a cool feeling.

I got about 45 minutes total on him, then kept my other commitment - Romeo.

Romeo and I ran, for about 45 minutes. Some of that was nice jog work, some of it collected walk, some a little easy canter, but he sure wanted to run. Mo realized how much bigger his new arena is, and wanted to show me that, given a little nudge of my legs and body posture forward, he can still run fast. What impressed me more, was after each set of canter/gallop craziness, it would only take two to three minutes for him to catch his breath and pick his head up ears forward. I was happy he's getting back in shape.

I'm looking forward to more rides this weekend. Jen and I are coordinating schedules for a little time "airplane arms" on the lunge line. I'm also looking forward to setting some cavaletti back up in the arena, and remind myself I am not a terrible rider, and it's got to look bad before it'll look better, way before it'll look awesome.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Big Ben Gets Punished

Compare for me the punishment other NFL players have recieved for other offenses in this article..

Now, tell me something - Michael Vick got, um, two games conditional suspension (which is NFL-speak for babysitting but playing), and he's back on the field. A few other players with known drug addictions and arrests are still playing, actively.

Two facts as I understand them from things I know being a Steelers fan, and from reading the original Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article...
  • Ben is single - he is going to date and look to meet girls, whether the NFL likes it or not.
  • The girls met him and his posse at one bar - Ben invited them to the second location, to his private planned party, and they accepted. They chose to attend the second bar with him.
As women, we can be victims of ugly horrendous crimes. I understand that. However, we can also allow ourselves to become victims when we put ourselves in compromising situations. If you don't want to risk having something bad happen while yo'ure drunk, then don't go to bars, don't drink heavily. If these girls chased him down because they wanted to be seen with a celebrity athlete, then they already knew who Ben is/was, and they would already know he's got a pending case with another lady-friend who claims rape. Don't put yourself in that situation! With an unknown guy, Okay - You might not know he's been accused of something the first night you meet him at a bar. But Ben? If those girls knew who he was, then they probably knew what he was already "in trouble" for.

Six game suspension. While a game or two might've proved their point, I'm entirely confused why they allow other players with more serious convictions (not just allegations - convictions & jail time) to stay on the field.

What say you? Am I being unreasonable, and trying to cover for a criminal? Is the NFL sending a good message by administering a hefty punishment? Or should there be a little blame passed all around? Did those girls set themselves up by agreeing to hop to a second bar & drink under-age? Should they have seen this coming with his previous accusation?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

04 19 Ransom Says

Leg shot - Front Right. You see that little bump on his leg? Yeah, that's the owwie. Strange, because it can't hurt him too bad - I pushed on it and he didn't fuss, I trotted him on the leadrope, and he didn't bobble his noggin...

What's really funny? After Day 2 of cold hosing, I let it dry while he ate some grass outside the feed stall, while I prepped supper. He saw LittleBrother got grain, so he wandered in his stall/paddock, and looked at his empty bucket. "Okay, I can feed you too now, if you want." Got his grain dumped, and while his leg finished drying, I fed the kids inside.

I went outside, poulticed, wrapped, all that, him still eating (untied). Got him relaxed & took the halter off, his head still in the feed bucket, something like this...

"Yum, Mom, Dinner. Thank you. You can go away now. I feel silly in these BLUE leggins.. Like an 80s aerobic instructor.. I look silly..."

Nah, Ransom. You look awesome. Like an upcoming TV star I heard about. *wink*

Sunday Dressage, and Changed Plans

Sunday, 4/18, I really needed reminding that, while I'm not doing "great" at a lot of things lately, I can work out a great ride on Ransom.

And he supplied just that. The arena fence wasn't 100% done, so we stayed away from cavaletti work, and I knew I needed to give the arena dirt a little more settling time.

We worked for about 45 minutes, with a brief warmup on the lunge line. He was great. In some of the softer arena spots he was a little fussy about collection, but still, we stayed to the rail for most of the ride, and he was a champ.

Monday, I scrambled home from work, really excited to get back in the saddle. I first thought I'd lunge Ransom, and ride Romeo. Then I switched them, then I switched it back. Oh phooey with it! I'll grab Ransom, lunge him in his dressage saddle, if he's listening... Nah.. I'll saddle him, walk him in hand back to the arena, tighten the girth, and go ride whatever he gives me. :)

As I was brushing him, I remembered the arena footing isn't 100% perfect yet. Not wanting to overdo Ransom's legs, I ran my hands down every leg.
Left front, check
Left rear, check
Right rear, check
Right front, CRAP

There was a bump on his cannon bone - just about in the middle. It was a swollen bump, a tiny bit warm. Off to the hose we go.
I cold hosed, poulticed & wrapped both front legs. I locked up the paddock, and turned him loose there. No pasture for Ransom until his leg heals.

Worse? Can't ride Romeo, either. See, Ransom gets REALLY agitated for the first 10-15 minutes of Romeo ride in the arena, and it's worse if he's locked up back at the barn while LittleBrother gets to "play".

No rides Monday, and none Tuesday. I cold hosed , re poultice, and rewrapped front legs again on Ransom. The bruise looked much smaller last night, so he ought to be A-O-K tonight. I will unwrap, hose the poultice off, polo wrap all four legs, and take him out for a quick lunge check tonight before choir.

It's only the second "medical time out" for Ransom - which isn't so bad. First was for runny nose right a few months after he came to my house, and now this one, only a couple days in length. That's pretty good, and I pray for his speedie recovery.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Henrietta, The Rubber Squaking Chicken

I bought the dogs a squawky chicken at the store today. I've been eyeing this goofy thing for weeks now. It doesn't squeak, it clucks and squawks. And it's not electronic, it's in the squeak-ielike thing. It's hysterical. At least R, and I, and half the store that heard us squawking it today thought so.

We get to my house, take the tags off, hand it to the girls, and they're almost afraid of it. Much work to be done to acclimate them to the chicken. I buried it in the dog food storage container, hoping to change their minds.

Then, R grabs the tag, and says, "Hey, babe. Did you read this?"
"Um, no, dear, I've been playing with the girls."
"Then listen to this!"

Henrietta's Tale
Raised on a quaint little chicken farm in America's Heartland, Henrietta showed a flair for performing at an early age.
As an adult, she moved to Las Vegas with dreams of fame and fortune. She quickly took the town by storm and was cast as a genuine Vegas Showgirl. During her twenty year career she danced in numerous shows and even headlined in the now infamous burlesque show, "Wild Chicken."
Now retired, Henrietta lives a quiet life, far from the Vegas footlights, in a swanky trailer park near Fort Lauderdale.

Folks, I can't make UP stuff that funny!
Check out their website - That's Henrietta in the opener.

Quick Recap and Some Thoughts

I've had a few dressage rides on Ransom, and a handful of Western romps on Romeo.

And my arena got larger - MUCH larger. It's something like 187' long, and about 80-85' wide. It's incredible. I don't have all the rail fence up yet, but that's coming soon.

Thus, the flat rides. I'm not confident enough to jump without a fence. Just not. Besides that, I need more hours on the flat, airplane arms and the like, to find my new balance.

Then one day last week, I grabbed Ransom, western saddle, and down the roads we went. I spent about a half hour in the tack, at the walk, rumbling down the road, both directions, and in the pasture a while.

And I thought, and reflected. I need more rides where I'm not concentrating on something new all the time. I'm not striving to be the next best rider on the circuit. I'm not busting tail to the best biggest blue ribbons out there. I want to have fun! And all the concentrating, well, just ain't fun.

So here's the plan...
*More dressage! More Training Level, flat concentrated dressage. Find some schooling shows, and get them on my calendar, committed to them, with intents on seeing higher scores than last year.

*At least ONCE every two weeks, I WILL just walk around the pasture, up & down the road. I'll aim to go farther down the road towards the mailboxes every time, but I will NOT concentrate on my equitation, I will goof off, 100% totally.

*No more than two rides a week hunter. I will still concentrate on it, but not so much, and not so intensely. Yes, I got a wider arena for fences & cavalettis without fear of running into the rail.

*Once a month minimum lesson at BRM. To work on position, and technical details, but not weekly, and maybe not even every other week. Again, I want to get better, but I'm not in a super hurry to do it.

To this end, I'm scheduling May 15th to attend a trail ride with Romeo that I was invited to. More details on that as I know them. It's not super far from home, and I was invited by another attendee at the HorseMaster taping. Cheap, easy fun, with a horse that's good at those trail and large group events. Awesome deal!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Owe Ya I Owe Ya

I owe two ride updates, and a little gushing on my HorseMaster preview that's out there, but this will just have to suffice for today.

A Ride of the Week blog at Tails from the Trail. A ride from last fall on Romeo...

Monday, April 12, 2010

BRM Lesson 4/9/10 Stick Up my Butt

I arrived fresh and early. It was a quiet trip up, without too much traffic. The last little bit crossing under the interstate gets a little hairy, but otherwise, a minor event getting there. I was invited to settle Ransom down in a stall, get changed, and relax a while. There were a few other lessons going on, so I watched a bit.

I got to watch two greenies go dressage. Nifty fun! Makes me thankful I'm not schooling a green horse.

It was my turn. Ransom was quiet & relaxed tacking up, so I skipped the lunging step. Last time I rode at BRM, I didn't lunge, and he looked really relaxed and I figured I'd take advantage.

I gave him a few laps at walk, then Barbara asked for trot. That went well, and she praised us for looking nice. She asked for a little flat canter, and that was pretty as well. Go Ransom! He was awesome!

Then she asked us to trot through some poles. There were three trot poles, maybe 4 canter strides away there were another two. I can laugh now, but it sure wasn't funny then. Ransom trotted three, trotted to the second two, then jumped both in one stride landing in canter. Oh good grief! Heading the other way, Barb suggested I let my eyes soften towards the ground out ahead of the poles, and Ransom broke to a walk. *giggle* "Girl, you're gonna have to let him go a little more than that in front of them." We did this again and again heading both ways, when Barb must have seen something that got her attention.

She had me go back to the open end of the arena, and asked "Did the HM people work on release? You're really letting go over the poles, but your core is all over the place. No wonder you feel like he's racing and you're losing your balance. Give me a trot in two point." I did, well, I tried.

"Open up your chest. Yeah, that's not enough, more, more. I'll fix you. Stick your arms out to your sides." I almost fell flat on Ransom's neck. Barbara laughed, "That's one way to get you to quit leaning on your hands on his neck. That's why he's getting faster - you're pushing him with your hands resting them there. It's knuckles in the back of his neck - think about it. It hurts, and he's trying to get away from it." So we did LOTS of trot two point to find balance without resting my hands on his neck.

She described it like this..
You need to almost arch your back - something I don't tell hardly any other female students. Most girls arch their back, but you're slouchy. It's something you can get away with in dressage, because you're riding with mostly seat & leg, but in hunters, you're going to have to straighten that back out, and ride without your hands resting on him. Hours and Hours of trot & canter at home with your hands out like an airplane - no reins. She suggested "ride like you've got a stick shoved up your butt, still, and flat. There! Now, don't move your position." It lasted about three trot strides before I lost it again ...

She also had me trot two point without stirrups. Again, I almost went splat. I could barely lift myself out of the saddle. "That's your two point, no higher." She had another student demonstrate how to move in the jump. The girl did NOT really move, at all. Her hands moved a little teensie bit. The rest of her, didn't. The horse came to her, she really didn't move up to him. It was fantastic.. I could've kept watching (and later wished I'd paid closer attention).

Back to my lesson. We also rode at trot two point over one ground pole. Later, we picked up canter, and I worked so hard to keep the back arched & shoulders opened up, hands up off his neck. Cantered over the pole a few times.

My bad balance made his canter feel HUGE. In fact, I felt a little "Whoa goofy pony" scared a couple times. Barb laughed, and made me push him farther into a bigger and bigger canter. As Ransom rolled on, she kept smooching to him, and he kept going bigger. I was struggling to relax, and she finally said to me, "You need to ENJOY your HORSE! Let him run once in a while until you get used to it. Next time I go fox hunting, I'm taking you with me! Second field & all, but you need to go! You need to trust him & let him go!" (At the phrase fox-hunting, I laughed, but truly I wanted to puke!)

I got So much accomplished, but have So much to work on. I need hours and hours and hours either on the end of a lunge line, or in the newly enlarged arena once it's enclosed again.

I've been challenged by Barbara to sit up straight shoulders back at my office desk chair, in the truck, and the dinner table. She also suggested standing up against a flat wall every day & not to leave it until my shoulders are against the wall, and then walk away without moving my back & shoulders. So I'm trying..

Shameless Begging

Yeah, that's about all it is. I know I still owe a detailed explanation of that lesson from Friday. I am working on it. There was SO much covered, along with a boot-in-mouth incident I'm still blushing about..

But meanwhile..
Late last week, I stumbled on two organizations back home where I grew up. One of the directors sat beside me in Biology (and got me in a boatload of trouble that was worth every moment). The other rode my school bus when we were all little. They're doing great things now, and I'm plugging for them.

I've made my donation, and encourage you to do the same, at any level, if you can. It's all tax-deductible, of course.

Quick Recap

I owe a HUGE blog about my Friday, but I got to go to BRM & ride a jump lesson with Barbara. It started as a jump lesson, and ended as a two-point lesson. Mostly, I need to get back in my arena at home, and ride hunt saddle, two point, no reins, hands out like an airplane. Until I find my balance point at trot & canter, I oughta stay on the ground. I think.. Got to learn to ride without resting hands on Ransom's neck.

But, my arena?! Where'd it go? It's a huge mixed up mass of sandy dirt right now. What happened? I had a few workers at the place Saturday. Arena fence came down, and I now have a huge hole (that may be a pond some day, if not, it's good drainage), and a much larger arena area disced & dragged. It's going to end up being about 30M by about 60M, plus or minus a bit. So, about 100Ft by 200Ft. There's fencing left to stuff in the ground, but I got to ride Romeo in it yesterday a little while, and it was really nice. It's a little soft, but even. No big holes, no obviously low spots.

Predicting a little rain (hopeful) to settle the dust, and let me see where the lows will be. I'm super anxious to get the fence up & get back on Ransom in it. Won't be any size limitations on setting up fences to jump now!

So anyways, I'm here... I did have an awesome lesson Friday, but I wish I could ride again hunt seat to absorb some of what Barb said. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Here We Go Again

This look familiar to anyone else? Read the comments if you've the patience for it.

"Concerned" asks - Please everyone leave the owner alone and shut up! We can't get her to surrender the horses if you keep harassing her!

=) I have a memory... Didn't we all learn our lesson before?

And yes, it's fun to rag on her,, if you're a fugly fan, good for you. I'm not. The best intentions fail multiple times, and the whole story never seems to make the press. The neat-ness about free speech? I'm allowed to express my displeasure. And check it out! I can do it without cursing and being obscene!! Neat, HUH?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

04/05/10 Get Some Courage, Already!

I gathered up Ransom & all his 2,000 parts dressage, and off we went to the empty arena. He warmed up nice, lazy but forward. So I hopped on.

We went through all the basics in our warmup together. He fought being collected just a little while. The nastiest of our ride were our canter transitions heading right out of trot. Once in it, he was fabulous, but going in.. sheesh! They were just bad enough to almost make me want to carry a whip next ride. Argh! Head-tossing trotting out like a nut in all efforts to avoid the canter. Strange, 'cuz once he was in it, the canter was fantastic!

I focused a bit on transitions, making sure all of the hunter flat work practice had stuck, even in the dressage saddle & french link bit. He was smooth, relaxed, and except for trot-to-canter-right, they were all really pretty. He tried antici---pating when I wanted walk to trot, but I mixed it up enough I got him distracted from habit & paying attention to me.

Then I hopped down, about 35 minutes into our work. I grabbed the rail razors and two poles. I set up two 8" cav poles, one on each side of the arena. I checked my girth & stirrups, and got back on. It's time I get some courage & launch us over the cavs again, and quit thinking that was how I messed my back up.

Our releases weren't amazing, he did knock one down, but we got in three canter-overs heading right (he acted like there hadn't been a week plus break of this activity, ears perked at the jump, picked up a sweet little canter, and hopped it.. once he had to make a SUPER long stride to jump over, but he still pulled it off without any speed or crazy), and two canter-overs heading left. He did knock it down heading left, I suspect with a back hoof, because he jumped up big in front over it. Again, even heading left, our first time doing so at canter, he didn't hesitate. He felt me lock eyes on the jump, then lifted himself in the canter as my eyes drifted to the tree tops in the pasture.

That's a sweeeeet feeling! It's something new, something my horse is awesome-good at, and something I've been dreaming of doing for about 8 years now. Since I watched my first O/F show class, I've been wanting to do it. I know we're not perfect. Of course it was the wrong saddle, so my legs couldn't come up short enough for heels-down (without whacking into those awesome dressage saddle knee rolls), our releases weren't perfect, but they sure are getting better. It's getting easier to "let go" all the way through the jump, since I can pretty much rely on him not increasing speed going away from the fence.

Neat Neat Neat! Tonight, I pull out the hunt saddle, and start out slow & easy, try to see what my back & legs can handle.

Regretfully, there's a dressage show this weekend, and we're not going. A two-day, with Day 1 being a judge I rode for last year. I'm sad... there's just no way I can fit myself or Ransom in time for a good showing. If I wanted to look just like we did last year, I'd go. But I want to look better, and I want to give Ransom the best chance to do better. I had seriously hoped we'd be riding Equitation, TL #1 & #2 Saturday, and Prix Caprilli #1 and TL #2 on Saturday. It isn't to be... Darned back injury.. messed up a show I was really looking forward to... grr!

oooh! Speaking of... Who has ridden or has copies of the Prix Caprilli tests? Share with us, please? I've looked in various spots online, and found different varities labelled PC 1, 2, and 3. It's hard to study, or practice, without knowing what the "right test" is. Thanks in advance!

Monday, April 5, 2010

I'm Back!

Thank you Thank you Thank you to everyone who posted, sent emails, called on me, checked, and repeated the process! Last week sucked, plain & simple. Beautiful weather, fabulous horses standing around, and I couldn't move in & out of bed without pain. I couldn't feed my own horses there for a few days, not to mention play with the dogs. I'm healing up, thanks to an awesome chiropractor who got me mostly fixed. I may make another appointment with Dr.M., but for now, I'm back in action! Thank you again!

I'm here.. I'm here.. I've not had any miraculous rides to blog about since the back injury. I'm healing slowly, and trying seriously hard to take it easy in the tack. You guys all know just how bad I'm dying to set up the 8" cavaletti rails & try them again at canter. It's driving me silly to see all that out there..

Saturday Ransom and I did a little serious dressage work. About 35 minutes. Lots of walk & canter. Not so much trot. When he was collected & round, the trot was easy on my back. When he'd hollow & stretch out yuckie, it hurt. The bouncing, even at a posting trot, is just a little too much still. So I kept it to what I was good at, and what we could do well. Rode TL #1 to finish up the ride. It wasn't phenominal, but he remembers.

Tonight, I'm going to give it another go. Will I get out the hunt seat tonight? Probably not. This week sometime? Yeah.. I'll ride through the discomfort. I just h-a-t-e staying on the ground, repeating all the same old stuff.. Time to learn something new dressage, I think..

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter everyone! He is Risen!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thursday morning. Chiropractor saves the day yesterday. I'm not 100% but I can walk & stand upright. Sitting & laying I still get sore. Sure is nice.