Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B Championships Judge@C

Championship Class Intro Test B, L Cummings, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = a bit sticky through salute

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly straight

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = large, and not round

4. Between K & A Medium walk
7 = could be more active

5. F-E Free walk
6 = needs steady stretch & swinging strides

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = sometimes lazy

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent, and fussy in bit

8.Circle left 20M at B
5 = circle large and not round

9. X halt salute
6 = some neck twisting, bracing

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Attractive duo. Horse needs to show more suppleness through body, including neck and elastic connection to bit. Watch geometry. Accuracy is important to development of horse.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B Championship Class

Championship Class Intro Test B, J Darnell, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = against hands in halt

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly bal

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = reins long, nose wags

4. Between K & A Medium walk
6 = keep NRG

5. F-E Free walk
7 = clear stretch

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = keep NRG in trans. And steadier connection

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent, has steadier contact

8.Circle left 20M at B
6 = nose wags, slightly counterbent

9. X halt salute
6 = threw outside shoulder in turn, against hands in halt

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 7
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 7

Nice pair. Reins got long & horse wages head – encourage him to accept steadier contact

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Second Warm Up

Before the second test, I had a game plan. We were the only AA's competing in the Championship class, and while that meant fancy ribbons and procession, that didn't mean I was quitting. No ma'am. That meant we were working harder. Bigger rated judge, fancy longer arena, more eyes watching. I wanted this to count, even for a great experience for Harley.

Without a longe first, I walked him for about five minutes, varying contact and stretch. We trotted just a tiny bit, then hopped up into canter. I kissed quietly, and used my leg aids. Correct lead left. Great! We cantered about a circle, then back to trot.

There was his energy! I found it! I glanced at my watch, and saw we had just enough time for all of our warm up work. We cantered right, with more success, and an even better trot out after. The transitions were there, the general contact was there. I did lengthen my reins, and decided less contact was better than a battle.

Two judges in the Championship test. I rode by the judge at B, same judge as my morning ride. She was still smiling, happy as can be, as we rode by. The judge at C was sure serious, and didn't even look up except maybe a glance. There were plenty of people watching from the seats above, and another handful watching from outside the arena. Wow... What an audience of attentive folks, us being the only horse & rider competing at that moment. How absolutely overwhelming.

Judge @ C rang the bell, and were were off. It was the top of the game. My championship ride with Ransom was cut short in disaster, and I didn't want anything like that happening again. I saw the videographer camera tuned into us, and I could hear the photographer's shutter snapping rapidly. This was *my* moment with my new show horse, and I was insanely excited!!

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B My Thoughts

That's the best I can describe how I felt in the test. Harley did NOT want to be forward, he was daydreaming off the bit, and would wiggle his nose to avoid the contact. R told me later he pooped in the second circle. Oh Me Oh My. I'm glad he at least stayed in his trot while pooping, but goodness.

I considered using tiny spurs in the Championship class, or at least in warmup. I tried to consider what I'd done differently in the morning warmup. We'd done many transitions, lots of loose rein walk breaks to rest, and then I realized what the gap was.

Every other ride, after the longe, I usually canter early in the ride, to "wake things up", and get his mind on the ride. That morning, I didn't canter. There were too many other riders around in too small of arenas, and since I nearly got crashed into at a walk by a galloping advanced horse, I wasn't confident Harley and I could manage canter in the chaos.

I committed that we'd FIND a place to canter before the Championship class. I'd get the spurs out, but not put them on, just keep them close enough for use if I needed. We were *going* to canter in our second warmup, and that just might be enough.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Open Intro B

Open Class Intro Test B, L. Cummings, Judge
HDS Schooling Show Championships

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Salute
6 = straight entry. Tense halt

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly smooth

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = neck twist, fussing with bit

4. Between K & A Medium walk
6 = tempo varies

5. F-E Free walk
7 = lovely stretch, could swing more

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = nose tilting, inside bend

7. Between H&C Working trot rising
6 = slightly counterbent

8.Circle left 20M at B
6 = needs inside bend

9. X halt salute
6 = a bit crooked in salute

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 6
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6 sometimes list left
Geometry and accuracy = 7

Attractive team. Work for more consistent, elastic connection to bit. Need inside bend. On your way.

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-18 Warm Up

When I arrived at the showgrounds to feed Harley, I found him the only horse in the barn aisle laying down, curled up snoozing. He got up for his breakfast, and ate eagerly. I also found his water bucket near empty, so that was delightful. I cleaned his stall, then headed back to the hotel to pack up, and find some human breakfast with R.

We got back to the showgrounds, and with a general sense of schedule, got Harley saddled and me in my showdress pretties just in time. His longing warmup was lazy but good. Warmup ride was an adventure. Arena cluttered with riders heading every which direction. At one point, a higher level rider was galloping down the diagonal straight towards us, and nearly smashed into me & Harley. Frightening! Harley did well, and stayed calm. I found him a bit lazy in the warmup ride, and hoped I could shake his motivation as we headed into the show ring.

I didn't hear a bell ring or a whistle blow, but wasn't sure if it was my "turn" in the ring or not. I darted into the ring, saw the judge & scribe watching us intently. I trotted right up the centerline, and halted at "X". It felt and probably looked like a hurried halt. The judge laughed. "We are ready for you, but you can let him look around a bit first before we'll blow the whistle for you to start. Go take your time, let him see everything."

I laughed myself. Told Harley, "Good job dear, but let's go look. Hey, look! There's people up there that weren't there yesterday! Let's hope they don't cheer like it's a football game, and they sit real still-like." (I hoped the audience was listening at that point, and heeded my request.)

The judge blew her whistle when we were at "B", so I turned down the rail, picked up a trot, and headed down the centerline. This was a class of 3 total riders, and in my mind, the "warm up ride" to our championship test.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

HDS Shooling Show Championships - 12-17 The Arrival

We arrived around 2:45pm Saturday. The show was already going on, and there were riders and horses scattered around the two warmup arenas, and the main show arena. I found the office, acquired Harley's number & stall assignment, and went back to unload. Settled in his stall, he immediately dove into his hay, more interested in his belly than in the chaos outside that stall. Hay, water, and shavings all over the stall floor, and I left him to relax a while. R and I ventured to the main arena, and we snooped a bit. Watched a bit of some rides, but I was fairly distracted. Surveying the crowd, the horses around, and the bleachers of people.

Just how much noise does it make when they walk around? How many banners are on the walls? Do the people outside the arenas wander around a lot during the tests?

I was given the "green light" to practice and school in the main arenas around 5:00pm. R and I headed back to the stall, and found Harley still munching hay. I tacked him up, and headed to the show arena. I hand walked him everywhere I could without getting directly in anyone's way. A few of the instructors wandering around coaching helped us out, sitting and standing at the judge's table, rattling plastic bags and papers, and calling out tests and instructions to their students.

We walked back to a warmup arena, longed a little, and I hopped on. Harley was quiet, and relaxed. He didn't seem concerned with the people walking around, the other horse/rider sets riding around him. Back to the main show arena, since that's where the tests would be Sunday, and that's what I was more concerned with.

There were two dressage arenas set up in the main ring. A 20x40 and a 20x60. A huge warmblood in a double bridle with a very focused rider took off at an extended trot down the long diagonal of the 20x60. They were headed straight to us. The horse's front knees and ankles flipped out as he trotted my way. Yikes! I'm not going in that arena just yet. She'll totally flip her lid if I get in her way with my little man. The 20x40 had a small girl on a little paint pony, instructor calling out some stern words. Trainer and child had a major disagreement over their earphone/mic speaker communication tools. Child's parents appeared to be watching on outside the arena. I glanced at the trainer, and said, "Sorry, but I'm crashing the party. No way I'm going in the big arena and interfering with that big horse's trot." Trainer said to me, "That'd be awesome, actually. Maybe motivate her (pointing at Child) to work harder." Trainer and child argued some more, and it became apparent Child was having an emotional hissy fit. Knowing this would be good for Harley, I entered at walk, and quickly picked up trot. Trainer called out, "You see that grey baby there? He's being quiet, even in a scary new place. Your horse is FINE! You are the problem! If you quit every time you have a slight problem, then let's sell the horse and your tack, and quit the sport. You can't quit just because he argues with you once. Now shut up, and RIDE!" Child looked at me with a sad longing face, and I just shrugged my shoulders and trotted on by her.

Harley's ride in the small arena, over walk and trot, was fantastic. Finally big warmblood left the 20x60, and a TB-type mare & older teen were riding. I joined in the fun, explaining to that teen's trainer Harley's youth and inexperience. "Oh , you'll be fine. We'll stay out of your way. Don't worry." I rode Harley through all three gaits, and even had some nice canter on contact. He was "on".

No spooks to work out, no boogers to iron through. No wild rides to sit it out. Just a quiet young Quarter Horse, acting like he'd done it his whole life. I patted him part way through the 20x60 ride. "Harley, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were Ransom. God bless ya, baby boy. You're doing great." *I almost cried, but I made it through. R saw my face, and knew... "He's doing great, babe. You look pretty awesome, too...*

Would Sunday be as great as Saturday? Sunday opened up with Intro B Open test first, 20x40 arena. A decent break, followed by the Championship test in the 20x60. I'd done all I could do. The training was done, the teaching was past. No "lessons" left to cram in Sunday morning. It was all down to the "big deal, main show, fancy class". I unsaddled Harley, gave him his supper and cookies, put a neck sleezy on, and his sheet, and smooched him goodnight. "Sleep well, my super star."

Friday, December 16, 2011

We Leave Tomorrow

I really have been riding. A lot, in fact. Taking some afternoons off from work, and riding two in an evening.

Boss and I are getting along well. There's much to learn, as some days, things seem to click really well. Other days, I have trouble making circles and corners. Were it not for the arena rail, he'd probably wander aimlessly when I can't find his bend. I'm learning I have to ride Boss very focused, and very centered, mentally and physically. The slightest "relax" on my part, and he'll break gait to a lazy walk.

Harley and I are going to squeeze a ride in today, and then we're off. Series Championships are Sunday, and we're travelling there tomorrow for schooling tomorrow evening. Scheduling didn't go easy, and I had to contact the show staff to discover my registration entry was lost. I had to contact them a second time today to receive ride times. The copy I received today shows slim competition for Intro "B" at Adult Amateur level. I can understand the economy isn't great, and Christmas shopping preceeds show dreams. It still seems odd there are very few AAs competing at the championships.

I will do a better job of blogging to capture tomorrow and Sunday, for sure. It's a new place for Harley, a big place. We'll be warming up and showing over FOUR different covered arenas and one outdoor arena. Absolutely huge facility, and that's even with some of the showgrounds "off limits" to us. He'll have a LOT to take in and get adjusted to.

His trot is fantastic.

His walk , well , I just wish it were bigger. ..

Free walk? When he's paying attention, it's beautiful.

I am slowly introducing canter with collection. I start with canter barely on contact. Then, I gently shorten my reins a little directly after he's in the gait. Down the long sides, I'm pushing with legs/seat, and shortening my reins a bit more. Relax on the short sides, repeat down a long side. I had a few strides on each lead collected down long sides. Harley's learning this much like he did in the trot - finding that balance point between "collection nicely" and "hanging on the forehand". Hanging on the bit usually makes him trip within a stride or two, again, much like the trot work. We'll get there, and thankfully, we don't need it in the show on Sunday.

Friday, December 2, 2011

In Other News

Read the news article.

Police: Father fatally shoots 4 kids, wounds wife

Now, go hug your kids. Love on your family.

And if your husband or boyfriend is using you as his punching bag, GET OUT!
RUN to your nearest police department, and TURN HIM IN.

Harley Update

Through the weather changes.
Through the gunfire.
Through the shortening evening light.
Through the body clip.

With the exception of one evening, Harley has been awesome. I gave him a body clip at the start of my week long vacation, and he stood completely still the entire time. Now with a shorter coat, he's easier to ride in the evenings, and isn't a sweaty gross mess after every ride.

We've worked on increasing the walk energy, and that's going fair... His working walk to free walk transitions are incredible now in both directions (giving and taking rein). I've got some very nice circles working out, and improved straightness in the lines.

Probably the only thing I wish I had a little more of from Harley, is energy. He often feels lazy, and requires a lot of motivation from me to move-on. On the longe line, he looks excellent, and may be going just the same under saddle, but just feels lazy compared to Boss's long strides. I haven't had any video in a while to observe him, so I'm hoping to get some soon for comparison.

The trot/canter/trot transitions have come a long way. I've begun to introduce a bit of collection on his canter - instead of barely any rein contact, I've shortened my reins just a bit. Somedays that goes really good, and others are a flat disaster. Harley takes that rein pressure as "slow down", and it's difficult to keep him In the canter. Nevertheless, our canter goal has been met - he almost never gets his leads wrong now, and I can go most rides all on correct-lead canter. He gets them on a bend in the circle, and I haven't asked but once or twice on a straight line. We'll get there. I think I need to get better at my own cues from Boss on a line before I ask Harley to learn.

Last night, Harley reminded me he's a baby. He was lazy on the longe. I flipped the whip just a little, and he took off like a flash. Galloping around the circle, eyes wide, it took about ten minutes to get him to relax. Then, in the trot, he was refusing to walk. No walk, no halt, nothing. Just trotting, totally ignoring all body language, all verbal cues, even a tug on the line/halter. I took the neck stretcher off, and focused on small circles, just on the walk. I'd let him go about half a circle, then tell him, "whoa!". About a dozen later, Harley was ready to stop rather than keep going.

I checked him over nose to tail, down all four legs, reaching, stretching, and all the tricks. He's not sore, he's not hurting. Just bein' a baby. It's all good. If 90% of Harley's work is slow, lazy, and obedient, he's entitled to a bad-day. I used to give it to Ransom to have a gallop-off-like-a-nut days, no reason Harley can't have the same.

Romeo Romeo ...

My sweet little Romeo.

You're the "break" in between my student horse and my teacher horse.

You're the quiet one.

I can push ya in any gait, adjust the stride, and hit the brakes with a word.

Mo and I haven't been venturing off the property at all, however. That makes me sad. I miss walking and trotting down the road, just to see how far I can get. My goals of leaving home on a trail ride are looking bleaker every day. Deer and dove hunters fire off their shotguns and rifles at random times throughout the day. More annoying, the neighbor children have made a hobby out of target shooting a little 0.22 rifle. Since Mo was shot at by his previous owner, he's got a lot of good reasons to be afraid of the gunfire. I haven't chosen to stay at home, in the arena, where I can control his reaction to the fear, rather than be out in the open, wandering down the paved roadway, just to have him panic and scramble.

This means things with Romeo are easy-going and quiet. Gaits are all steady and relaxed, and the more I stay out of his mouth, the happier he is, and the lower his ears go. =)

Boss Update

Things went from decent, to terrible, back to good, with Boss.

When he first came to my house, he was antsy to start his work, a bit of a booger for the first 20 minutes (from catch into the ride). He'd jig around, ants-in-his-pants, and then half way through the walk, he'd finally relax a bit.

Then one ride in the howling winds, he decided to take off in the arena between halter off and bridle on. Off he went, in a flash. I pushed him around with the longe whip, made his life generally difficult, and found he LOVES to rollback, butt facing me. No, sirreee doodeedah, that sh!t ain't happenin' here, MisterMan. Chase Chase Chase, ease up the body pressure, and as soon as he'd give two eyes, I'd back away and walk off. After the third time one evening, he gave up. I rode a little while, (5 minutes or less), just long enough to prove I am BossMare, and called i quits.

The next ride, he was a turd to start yet again. "I'm not playing this game!", I called out. After two eyes facing up, I hopped on. By the third ride, I had a plan - longed him in the Side Reins. his ears flipped wildly, eyes wrinkled up tight. He *knew* then I meant business, and I wasn't playing a gallop-game anymore. Not only is his running disrespectful, it's dangerous. After the longe session, I took all his head tack off, and haltered him. Boss gave me the most bewildered look, as if he didn't understand quite why I wasn't going to ride. "That's enough for today. Let's see what I have tomorrow to ride."

Thursday, I longed him in the halter for 10 minutes to start. He was wild for only a circle or two, and then settled right down. Interesting .... The ride? It was great. I found a few holes in my riding ability, and checked with Samantha over them. She reminded me that I need to use my outside rein for good turns and bending.

Earlier this week, I put that inside rein to the test. With a sharp movement, Boss was making 90-degree turns. Outside leg, outside rein tight, turning my body from the waist up where I want to go, and Boss turns! He turns hard! We made the smallest circles ever, and I had absolutely no idea the Big monster could bend like that!

I have also found the secret to his "go". Spurs. I'm not a huge fan of the darn things, but I've noticed it only takes a poke or two, followed by leg pressure, and he's forward-going. We've also negotiated the canter transitions - he pushes up into them instead of the one-time rearing show he gave me, and he also stays in the canter now without me kicking every stride. It sometimes feels like my legs are out in front of my seat when I ride Boss - his swayback positions my saddle a bit odd, and that makes my legs feel a bit forward. With my legs in that spot, however, it's very easy to push him forward. I had the best trot and canter we've had yet together earlier this week.

"well done grasshopper" Sam sent me in a text when I told her about the inside rein and the forward gaits. well done.... :) hop hop!

Thanksgiving Week Update

Rather than go through the last week+ by only a day at a time, a horse at a time...
Here's the summary ..
11/20 - Boss & Harley
11/21 - Boss & Harley
11/22 - Harley & Romeo
11/23 - Boss & Harley
11/24 - Boss & Romeo
11/25 - Harley
11/26 - skipped
11/27 - Harley, Boss, & Romeo
11/28 - Harley
11/29 - skipped
11/30 - Boss & Romeo
12/1 - Harley longe

Now, onto what has actually happend worth noting, by horse, informative and non-informative. =) Do anyone else's legs hurt just reading that, or am I imagining the soreness again?

Friday, November 18, 2011

11/14/11 Boss Bang

I caught Boss. Saddled up, headed to the arena. Southern winds were howling around the arena, typical of fall transition into winter here, as the cold fronts blow in and the coastal winds fight the fronts.

He walked around quietly, and we even trotted a bit. Then, pretty much without cause, he stopped. I felt him tighten up and get stiff. I asked him to walk forward, and I got about four steps before he halted again. I hopped off, flexed him left & right, and hand walked him a little.

Mounted and hopped off repeatedly from the center of the arena , and found that away from the mounting block, he stands pretty quiet for hopping on. Finally, I hopped on and stayed there.

I asked for walk forward. Got one step, halt. Asked again, one step, halt. Asked a third time, no walk forward. I kicked him rather hard, got one more step, halt. Frustrated, I hopped off, and decided the winds must've been too much for him to handle. I took the bridle off, put the halter on,
Boss shuddered and took a step towards me, resting his head on my arm...

Gunfire, from CRNG's way. I took Boss back to the trailer to unsaddle.
More gunfire from CRNG's way. I shouted, "HEY! Look before you shoot!"

Thanks Boss, for getting me off your back before the guns actually went off.

Well after dusk, another rifle shot went off, farther from home. I turned it in as after-hours illegal hunting to the game warden, and then the county sheriff. I don't know who's doing all the shooting, but I'm not impressed. Neither is Boss.

11-13-11 The Results

While we waited in between tests, Harley took a sharp "turn on the forehand", just as the rainstorms came. A young lady watching the show darted under a tree, "ooh, it's cold and wet!" I responded, "Yeah yeah yeah.. She says to the girl ON her horse in a White shirt! Nobody told me this was a wet tee-shirt contest!" The observers all laughed, and the rains eased up some.

After the tests, we got lots of applause, which is out of the ordinary for dressage shows around here. Folks clap for their son or daughter, friends for each other. I don't live near any of the shows I attend, so most folks don't even know me where we ride. The barn owner cheered for us after each ride, praising Harley's calm behavior, and "my great riding". I glowed walking back to the trailer. A young lady praised us as we passed her, "You rode great today! Good job!"

After about an hour, I wandered into the show office to find our scores. I jumped up & down, and danced like Snoopy back to the trailer.

Those scores qualify us for series Championships! Two shows, two judges, two scores over 60%.

Later on, the show manager walked over to the trailer with the ribbons.

Second place for Test A
First place for Test B
Adult Amateur Intro Division Champions

I think we floated on the trailer ride home. :)

11-13-11 Intro B, All Heart Horse Farm

Intro Test B, Marilyn Kulifay, Judge
All Heart Horse Farm, Manvel, TX

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Saulte
6 = fairly straight, shoulders Right after X

2. Track left working trot rising
7 = fairly smooth

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = lovely energy, circle to be a little rounder

4. Between K & A Medium walk
7 = smooth

5. F-E Free walk
7 = lovely stretch, needs a little more march

6. E-H Medium walk
6 = nice length of stride, needs activity

7. Between H&C Working trot rising

8.Circle left 20M at B
6 = nice energy, needs consistent bend in body

9. X halt salute
6 = overshot centerline a little

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 7
Submission = 7 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Attractive pair! Make sure circles are very round & centerline is very straight. Nice job!

11-13-11 Intro A, All Heart Horse Farm

Intro Test A, Marilyn Kulifay, Judge
Sienna Stables, Missouri City, TX

1. Enter working trot rising. Between X & C, medium walk
6 = drifting left. shoulder left at little @ *can't read*

2. Track right working trot rising
7 = smooth turn prompt at M

3. Circle right 20M at A
7= lovely energy

4. KXM Change Rein
7 = slight bobbly but straight line

5. Circle left 20M at C
6 = lovely energy. circle needs to be rounder

6. Medium walk between C & H
7 = smooth

7. HXF Free walk
7 = shows some stretch, ask for more

8. F-A medium walk
6 = needs more march, Right at centerline

9. X halt salute
6 = fairly straight but right at centerline

Rider comments
Gaits = 7
Impulsion = 7
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Attractive pair! Make sure horse marches in walk - but shows lovely energy in trot. Make sure straightness on centerline.

Monday, November 14, 2011

11/13/11 AHHF Arrival

Harley, R, and I arrived at the show farm right on my schedule. 10:30 am, with 1:00 ride times. Plenty of time to walk the facility, get un-spooked, get my bearings on where I needed to be and when.

I put Harley's knotted halter on, and we went walking. I giggled as the barn horses were all startled by the new horse on the farm. We were the only trailered-in horse/rider at that point. Some activity in the show ring, and lots going on around the barns. A few folks were riding in the warm up area, some dressed to show, some not.

Harley gained all kinds of googly-eyes. "OOoohh.. He's pretty!", I heard from a handful of folks. I was convinced they were only speaking of his grey color. I beamed proud when he took the whole place in stride, with only a few snort-breaths. He didn't spook at the jumps, or the standards. He didn't seem bothered by the harsh winds, and didn't hardly notice when the other horses rode by.

One young girl and her mom, each on their own horses, were in the warm up area (not dressed to show), and the younger girl about looked like she wanted to jump off her horse as I hand-walked Harley by them on the rail. R reported he later heard mom tell the girl, "They're probably here for the show, just getting used to the place. I'm sure you'll be fine, nothing will happen." *giggle*

We dressed to ride, Harley in his black & white beauty (with purple polo wraps and his R.E.S. boots for the warmup). I took him to the warm up area, and longed him under gloomy skies and undirectional wind bursts. A few folks watched us from the warm up arena fence, and a few more lurked in the barns nearby. No wild reactions still from my baby superstar. He stayed quiet, calm, and unphased by everything. The farm had its fair share of bees, and while he swatted legs and tail at them, he still stayed quiet. A show worker told R, "The other trailer-in pair had a flat tire on the way here. They were supposed to ride at 8, but now we're putting them directly after lunch. You'll ride second after lunch instead of first."

The lunch break came, and I hopped on him in the show arena. Someone walked up , and told me, "The scribe is going to ride a few tests for the judge and then you'll go." I responded, "So if the scribe is riding, how many tests? And what about the other two riders that are also before me? What's going on?" She responded, "I don't know, I was just asked to give you the message. You'll have about fifteen minutes in here to ride, and then you need to stand outside and wait your turn."

HUH?! Tension was building just a bit. Instead of my perfect preparation, my timed arrival, perfectly timed warmup, now I was supposed to "put Harley on ice"?! I did the math in my head. With three other riders, even two tests a piece, that was going to be about another half hour to an hour. The clouds grew even darker, and it was obvious it was going to rain, I just didn't know when or how much.

As things in the arena picked up, and the judge arrived, I found the barn owner. "Uhm, what's going on? When am I riding now? Am I after all three of these folks? I timed Harley's warmup so we'd be ready for the judge. I don't mind a little wait, but I'd like to know what's going on so I can prepare him for his best, not standing in the rain getting cold waiting." She answered, "I don't know myself at this point. Let me go talk to the judge, and figure out what's going on." It started to sprinkle rain around the covered show arena, and there was nowhere to stand out of the rain.

R informed me.. "The scribe is riding someone else's horse to give the mare good show experience. The last two times the owner has tried to show her, the mare has bucked her rider off, hard." I glanced over, and found a BIG paint-colored mare, assuming "That can't be a crazy horse. I wonder where she hides it?" as the mare let out a big yawn, and stood quiet on a loose rein. Hmm...

The owner came back and informed me, "Okay. The judge was the one with the flat tire, not the other trailer-ins. The scribe and you are going to switch off. She'll ride one, you'll ride one, and repeat. So, you'll be in the ring in about 2 to 3 minutes, and you'll probably be done riding in about 20. How's that sound?"

Perfect ...

I hopped on Harley, and as the scribe finished her Test A, I rode Harley in. A little walk, a little trot. A volunteer offered to call my test for me, and I accepted. I rode by the judge, we exchanged bright smiles, and she blew the whistle.

As I rode down the long side towards R and "A", I realized I had a half-dozen folks watching from the short side. I glanced towards the barns, and realized another crowd was watching from the barns and warm up arena. Wow.. Harley has an audience. I smiled big at R, and said quietly, "Let's do this!"

Chest out, shoulders back, calves on Harley's side, I turned left sharp, straight up centerline, rising trot, judge, barn owner, fill in scribe all watching at my front, and a crowd behind us... It just felt like it was going to be a great test.

Recap up to 11/13 Show Day

Over the long weekend, I rode everybody. Friday brought all three horses under me. Romeo and I did some nice arena work - he tried being speedy at canter, but I quickly dug my seat into him, and he relaxed.

I found Boss's GO button - squeeze the calves. When I ride Harley and Mo, I ask for a transition, then try to leave them alone, adding seat and some inside leg to increase the gait forward. Boss would prefer I leave my legs resting on him, and squeeze him together in the ribs with both legs to increase gait. When I figured this out, he sped off in this fantastic trot forward, zippity dooo dah! The canter work was short again, but very nice. He's landing a bit toe-first in the trot up front, so we both coughed up a decent amount of dust in the ride.

Harley and I worked on all the gaits, and had a good ride, nothing spectacular. He felt a little stiff in the transitions. I worked on walk/halt transitions, and as they improved, he seemed to relax.

Saturday brought lots of sore muscles. Not my legs, as I expected (having ridden all three on Friday). No, Saturday brought sore chest muscles. As it turns out, the saddle fit change, has left me sitting very tall & upright, chest up / shoulders back, pretty much naturally. This means all those upper chest muscles that I'd learned to protect and curl up around my back are being restretched.

I grabbed Romeo, and noticed all three horses were eyes and ears up down the powerline clearing. They were anxiously looking towards the cow pasture (not the dirt road). Strange ... I rode Romeo down the road a ways, and down the clearing. Still didn't see anything, but with Romeo under me, Harley and Boss in plain view, all three horses seemed nervous and anxious. I took Romeo away from the house down the road a ways, and the farther away from home he got, the more relaxed he became. Very strange indeed.

Harley and I hit the arena, and I was convinced it'd be a short ride. My chest muscles were tight, it was a bit hard to breathe, and there was no way I was going to make it worse for Sunday. Then, as we came down long side past what would be "K", towards "E", I heard it.

POP .. .I jumped, and Harley's head, eyes, and ears all looked right down the clearing ...

Dang neighbors. There were two of them. One was driving the golf cart, the other stood up from the cart, and it looked like he shot into the air. "HEY! Look down from the shot, will ya?!" I screamed, pretty annoyed. He got back in the cart, and it started coming towards the arena. "Come on with it", I muttered under my breath. "Let's just see how this goes, you being too stupid to look past the shot, trying to kill me and my horse both." Just then, the cart swung a U-turn, either because one convinced the other it wasn't worth an argument, or because they could read my mind. The two and their cart disappeared, and I heard another POP in the direction of where they wandered off to.

Harley and I rode transition after transition, walk/halt/walk, trot/walk/trot, trot/halt. Each improved just a tad, and when they were at his best, I walked him out and quit.

Back at the house, while I was giving Harley a bath and a full grooming, POP. Gun went off again. I screamed even louder, "Do you people EVER think about what's behind the shot? *fourletterword fourletterword fourletterword*"

A tense afternoon, from shooting, to quick rides. Around dusk, Boss relaxed and quit looking in that direction. Harley and Romeo were too tired long before that, and were probably just hoping the hunters had given up for the day.

How I Handle the Pasture

Since it's come up again, here's what happened late last year. Simply put, every single time I read a blog about someone getting kicked, or nearly getting kicked, I shudder. Every time I see a video of "that adorable horse" running free in a small pasture lot, kicking up their heels, I catch my breath.

WHAT are you people thinking?!?!?!?!

I was kicked, it damaged my heart, I could have died. Heart Attack. 32 years old, healthy, take my vitamins, drink my milk, exercise at least 4 days a week riding, eat a balanced diet, and nearly died. Afterwards, it took months before I could take a deep breath without medication and NOT feel pain.

Use the Thinking Side of your Brain, readers. STOP Playing games in the pasture. Refuse to enter a pasture when the herd is bucking, kicking up, and running like wild children. Buy a longe whip, and USE the stupid thing. Snap it at your horses, I don't care how "cuddly and adorable" they are. DEMAND respect, and if you're not getting it, GET your brilliant mind OUT of the pasture.

Here's how we handle things at my house... When I was finally able to feed and blanket my own horses again (reality check - I couldn't do it myself for over a month... and when I did, it hurt, like hell!), I didn't do anything unhaltered. My guys all have their own pasture lots. At the time, there were two horses on the property - Harley and Romeo. I began demanding that Mo give me his two eyes, face front, and I did NOT walk behind him. I will probably NEVER walk behind him unless he's tied. Even then, I stand very close, hand on his butt, so he knows full well I'm there.

We also don't "play games" free in the pasture, or in the arena, and we never will again. Mo wanted desperately about two weeks ago to have a "gallop day" in the arena loose. Instead, I made him run like a madman ON the longe line. When I do longe, "whoa" for Romeo used to mean "come up to me". After about a month of hard work, he now stops and turns his neck and nose towards me, without stepping up. There is no invitation into my personal space. I walk up to him, and he's no longer allowed to come within 5' of me unless I have a halter in my hand loose in pasture. I don't approach from the back, and when I feed, I get two eyes, or I don't dump the grain. No games, no playing, and absolutely zero disrespect. I haven't needed a whip in my hand in the pasture, but I won't be bashful grabbing one either.

[[ Exception ... When I catch Boss, some of the time, I carry a dressage whip. NOT because he's goofy and playful when I catch him. It's because once he nose-dives into his halter, he likes to anxiously drag me to the trailer to be saddled. One or two light taps on the chest with the dressage whip, he usually settles behind me. The last three times I've caught him, he's followed along behind me, about 1.5' back. ]] Understand here, Boss is HUGE, and he likes to remind me he's huge.

ey are horses. One Thousand Pound, Kick you into next month, destroy your face, break ribs and hearts, bust an arm or a leg, HORSES. These are not oversized puppy dogs, I promise.

How do you handle the herd? How many horses, on what size lot? What do you do when they're kicking up running and playing?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Week's Worth

Here's some Highlights...

Boss got him some new feet last Sunday. I rode him a few days before his feet, and once since. I'm going to stay "Shhh" about his new feet for now, pending full success. So far, things seem good. He rode last night with a bit less effort on my part (because of cooler weather, spurs, new saddle fit, or new feet), but felt a bit tentative with each step. The longer we worked, the better things got. Around 25 minutes, he hit a brick wall, and was obviously very tired. Time to step it up in the trot, and try to get a few more minutes of true work next week.

Harley got new clothes! Sort of. Stirlingshire Saddle Fitters were at BRM on Monday. I travelled with Harley up to visit them and get his saddle worked on. Alene and Louise were delightful ladies, a pleasure to be around. They added considerable wool flocking to the front of the saddle (both sides), and added a more forward girth strap. The results? The saddle sits completely level on his back now, the girth can sit in that forward traditionally Western girth groove, and I am totally completely upright in my body now. I have found it's easier to post the trot gently, much easier to sit his canter. Harley seems happy as well. We have found it..
Drum roll please...
We found the free walk! Tuesday evening I saddled him, asked him to work fairly hard. I shortened up my reins early in the ride (skipping the longe warmup, cloudy skies shortened evening daylight even more). He collected, and I could feel his rear end lift behind me. I caught myself sitting totally up tall, shoulders back, sternum lifted, and posting very gently. When I asked for canter, I got nice transitions, and was able to sit completely in the saddle, barely moving. As we relaxed to walk, I loosened out the reins, and he followed with his entire front half of the body. Nose near the ground. Completely delightful. I now know that saddle fit was a limitation to the free walk. Who knows what else he wasn't happy about.
Last night, I should've longed him first. I didn't, the wind blew something about in the bushes. Harley spooked, and I was unable to stay with it. Splat. No serious injuries, though my helmet didn't stay atop my head like it's supposed to. Time to go helmet shopping,, *epic fail*

Saturday afternoon, rather than longe quietly and ride gently, Mo decided he was going to run. I know he wanted a "free gallop in the arena day", but given his kick history, I kept him on the longeline. He stayed there, at a near full out run, for about 25 minutes. A sweaty, frothy, heaving mess, Mo finally settled down and became rideable. Another 20 minutes of pushing and working him under saddle, and I believe every ounce of his outta shape body said, "Ouch, Mom. I give up."

I've been averaging two rides a day, leaving from work a little early some days to get those two rides in before dark. I'd like to work up to all three on my days off, and Thanksgiving week I will have a chance to try that out.

Show this coming Sunday... Things are really looking up for me and Harley now with his saddle fitting properly.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Harley came to me in the pasture last night, nickering. He lowered his head into the halter. Hmm.. I wonder if this is a good sign, or if he's secretly plotting to kill me in the arena. Saddled, and neck stretcher longed, I hopped on.

Amazing again. A bit less give at the trot, which frustrated me. I asked for plenty of canter and transitions after 9-12 strides, hoping to get the give in the trot. Serpentines and circles at trot, and he'd feel pretty good until I'd ask for a straight line and corner. Things fell apart in the corners, so I'd go back to changing direction a lot. After about 30 minutes paying attention, he seemed to be finally alert to the collection, and relaxed. I tried some halt/trot/halt work, and that's improving significantly. The canters were nice again, light contact, sitting securely. Free walk work still seems to elude Harley. He'll stretch out, and down just past neck level, then stop. Every time he's stretched farther, he gets heavy on the forehand, stumbles, and then doesn't want to try it again. Must be a trick to it we're not getting.

Boss was up second, and Romeo looked pretty happy about my choice. He antsed around again saddling up, but stood quietly for polo wraps up front. Odd child. Bridling was easier, as he lowered his head with one tug of my fingers at the poll. Smart ... Smart ... He tried walking off at the mounting block, and after two aggressive responses from me, I mounted ever so slowly, and he stood still. A good pat for praise, and he was off.

Warmup at the walk took about five minutes before he wasn't a giraffe anymore, and was giving to the pressure. Tug, release, Tug, release, walk on. Nice .... His trot was ... LAZY! Slow, unforgiving, and just flat. It felt slower than Harley, which annoyed me. Thinking to myself, "I know the canter wakes Harley's trot up. I wonder if all horses are like that?"

I squeezed for the canter left, and off he went. Boss lept up into his canter, and before I knew it, I was sitting his massive stride with all its knee-action happiness, and he was bent on the circle, collected. How thrilling! I rode two big center arena circles, then let out a heavy sigh to the trot. Love the AirBrakes! Boss still lurched about in the trot, and no matter how cooperative I tried to be, he seemed to be ignoring me.

Then I flashed back to my first instructor in SC. Susan would tell the intermediate students when the horses were lazy, "take your reins at the buckle, and whap him on both sides of the neck. back and forth. That oughta wake him up." And I tried it. Success! Boss immediately perked up into a better trot, and, while it's not tracking up, I don't think I'm physically ready to keep up with a tracking up trot on him. He started giving to the bit, and I felt his back lift under me. Similar work heading right. Lazy trot, beautiful canter, whap-whap on the neck, and a nice trot.

About 35 minutes total work. Finished up again with long&low stretchy trot, and a bit of working walk / free walk transitions. They were better than Tuesday, even. Things are improving slowly, and I'm pretty sure it's mostly me and not that much Boss.


I caught Harley, tacked him up. Boss was prancing the fenceline of his paddock, calling out. Harley and Mo paid him no mind. As we started our free longe in the arena, Boss became even more agitated. After about ten minutes, he realized what was going on, it was not in fact his turn to play, and Harley and I weren't leaving him behind. He stood at the paddock fence watching us, but quit fussing.

Harley free longed cute, with one crossfire canter right. He bucked himself out of it, and I laughed. "You're still a baby, aren't you?" I asked him. With a few more canter rights correct, and some really nice neck stretcher warmup longe work, I hopped aboard.

I don't know if he was showing off, or I've improved that much that quickly with Boss underneath me in two rides. But the ride on Harley was magical. His trot was floaty and forward, with nice bit connection and bend at the poll. I could feel his back lifting underneath me. The canter work? Fantastico! Correct leads, relaxed transitions both up and down. Most delightful, he was on light contact through the canter, and I was sitting. Not driving, not pushing, just sitting. A bit of inside leg to keep it together, but I was *sitting*. Through the transitions with a few strides sitting trot as well. Delightful! About 40 minutes of work, and under the warm sunny afternoon, he was huffin and puffin. Fuzzy coat, My dear... that must go here pretty dern soon.

Romeo was none impressed with my decision to ride him as well. He limped down the road a bit, avoiding the gravel at all expense, including running me into every tree limb he could find. Still unhappy with his new toes, I assume... so I kept it short, and put him away after about 15 minutes of walking. Next ride on Mo, I won't bother with the saddle, so I will waste less time if he's still foot sore.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

11-1-11 Relax the Muscles

Boss antsed around the trailer while I tried to saddle him. He pranced almost the whole way to the arena. In his halter, I worked on "poll pressure from my hand means head-down", and after the third push, he let out a heavy sigh. Curious if that was the training "sticking" in his head, I walked him forward and tried again. Poll, push, head-down. Almost instantly. I used this new lesson to get the bridle on - I'm not standing on a ladder to put his bridle on, no matter what he thinks.

Walked him over to the mounting block, and as I got on, he tried to walk off. I backed him up pretty hard, and held tight until I was secure. Just like Sunday, we played flex-position at the walk until Mr Giraffe became Boss again. A little leg yield at the walk, a few serpentines, and a couple of 10m circles, and I had his attention. Boss started to push into the bit, flex at the poll. Much faster than Sunday.

When I asked for the trot, I was worried just how hard I'd have to kick to get it. I prepared with a rock-solid half halt, and with a squeeze, then a kick, he was in the trot. Much of the same, flexing positioning and bending. I discovered a nice collected posting trot pretty quickly, though. Any time his head pops up to Mr Giraffe, I would examine my body, ears to toes, find the joint that wasn't bending with him, or the muscle groups I was holding on with, and the instant I relaxed or bent, he'd settle again.

Lots of trot, followed by a nice walk. I let the reins through my hands, and Boss reached for a long low free walk. Whatta dreamy free walk! Transition back to working walk wasn't so pretty, and now my new goal is to work through it slow enough that he isn't so Mr Giraffe.

More trot, and some canter. First canter was turning left on the circle, and I got the right lead. I had to kick pretty hard and position myself to an extreme to get it, so I figured I asked for the right lead. He stayed in it, then back to trot after about 8 strides. Second time I asked, I made sure outside leg was back, and I got the canter-left. Two big center of the arena circles, and back to a trot. The funniest part of his canter is feeling the inside front leg bend sharply at the knee, and hearing all four hooves hit the ground in the canter. ba-da-dump, ba-da-dump, ba-da-dump. It feels very UP in front, and that's just because I am not keeping him together in canter yet.

Relaxed into more trot work, and I ended with a new piece for Us as a team. The long & low trot. Starting out collected trot, I spread my hands about 2" total, and started to let the reins through my fingers. Boss immediately reached for it, and with the reins on the buckle (literally as long as they'd go), he still had tension on the reins at the long trot. Fantastic!

About 35 minutes total work, 30 minutes of it riding "work". He was sweaty and very relaxed when we ended, so that's a good time frame to stay with until he's a bit more fit. I didn't expect lots of canter work, nor did I expect him to hold up for an entire hour. He doesn't "relax" to a loose rein. If my body position is correct, the entire ride for him is "working session". It's just how he's trained, and something to adjust to.

Cookie stretches, nose to ribcage, I heard his neck pop quite a bit bending to the left. Time to start flexing his nose to my feet under saddle, see if I can't loosen that neck up a bit.

Monday, October 31, 2011

10/30/11 Introducing

no pictures yet ... We got home well after dark, and my focus was concentrated on unloading, settling Boss in, and getting the other four-leggeds well tended and loved.

I saw the ad on Dreamhorse, and my heart warmed. I remember the day Sam sent me a text before I drove up for a lesson. "Can we use your trailer after the lesson to go pick up a horse?" I remembered pulling up into the facility, and taking one look at Boss. My heart sank. He was thin, coat looked dull, and his eyes were sad. Sam insisted he was a well-trained dressage horse, and he was being given to her as a schoolmaster. Before I could dream of riding him, she whisked off to West Virginia for a few years, taking Boss with her. I saw some pictures, and some video later on. I smiled and felt warm - Boss looked awesome. Fat, sassy, gleaming coat, and happy eyes.

Sam has now returned to TX, a fact I have kept quiet until today. I've been working to get back into a lesson schedule with her, and we're nearly there on all the details. Sam listed Boss for sale, or "free lease to the right situation". I contacted her, and we made plans to meet up yesterday.

The ride was amazing. When I was wrong (body, hands, inner mental picture, anything), Boss was giraffe-head-high, and super short strided. I didn't longe him, I just mounted up and walked off. He isn't goofy, he doesn't seem to be bothered by much of anything. Lots of bend in, bend out, at the neck to stretch and warm him up (physically and mentally). Sam called this "positioning his head". Use one rein solid, then release, and see what answer he gives me. Alternate inside and outside rein, as well as inside and outside leg. We spent about ten minutes at the walk, on contact, and when I was determined he do it correctly, he was compliant.

Boss is a 2nd level Schoolmaster. Described as a true gentleman. He was polite on the ground, and a true teacher to ride. When I was correct, he was correct. When I was wrong, he showed it through his body. I will truly have to learn to "ride every step". I rode him through all three basic gaits, and know there is much more to come.

He has some quirks. A swayback from all his years working. Long (LONG) hooves that are going to require some attention. A habit of walking off at mounting if I don't pay attention. Too many years on draw reins, and as a result he turns into a giraffe from free walk to working walk. He doesn't like turnout, and will pace fencelines, working himself into a nervous frenzy without his "comfort box". Otherwise, he's truly patient. Sam sent me home with his bridle (HUGE), complete with a "baby bit" (o-ring french link snaffle), all the corrective pads the saddle fitters she used suggested, and a verbal free lease contract. (with R as a witness) I'm responsible for feed, hooves, any vet calls, and if for any reason, whether a problem or none, I can return him at any time. She "just wants him to have a happy life, and a job".

Me? I can't wait! My legs are going to become much stronger, I will learn to ride every stride, and I have a patient teacher to put up with me. I will have purposeful lessons with Sam, whether on Boss, or on Harley. The things Boss teaches me I can translate through to Harley, making him a better horse, too. My favorite part of the ride? From the walk to the trot, I couldn't seem to use enough leg. Sam went to retrieve a whip, and while she was gone, I thought in my mind, "Dang it! I can do this without that whip! C'mon YOU!" I kicked him hard, and apparently the kick, combined with my mind, Boss popped into a nice steady trot, and stayed there for a while. When Sam returned, she called out, "Good job! Atta girl! That's what we're looking for." Quickly, and true to her previous lessons, Sam immediately began calling out cues. "Inside rein. Don't forget your outside rein to make that strong wall. Use your legs.... Post the trot, squeeze every time you sit. Good! Right there!" I felt a collected trot I don't think I've ever ridden. True delight!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And the Weekend - Harley

10-21 I put tiny little nubby spurs on, and hopped on Harley without a warmup. Knowing he'd worked the day before, his mind should be in the game, and it was. He felt a little stick of the spur, and got down to business. It felt still like he was s-l-o-w, but hoofprints said he was tracking up. Collection, I wondered? A good ride, a few short go's at canter (long enough to get the point across, but short enough to prepare for what may be Intro C someday).

10-22 Harley missed one lead at canter-left. No spurs Saturday morning, but again things felt light. I listened to hoof beats on the ground, and the prints again said "tracking up". Thinking and pondering, I worked more on working walk to free walk. Better, though not where I'd like it to be.

10-23 I was bold, and brave. A very brief free longe warmup, and I hopped on bareback. He very quickly answered my "collection question". I felt back muscles tighten underneath me. Interesting! Very Very interesting. I pushed him into a trot, then tried to sit the trot, measuring his give to the bit and his mind. Good results yet again. After a little protest (from uncertainty I'm sure), Harley and I were tracking up at a sitting trot around the arena. Not a chance that's going on without some collection.

Then the moment of pure fun. Sit back, squeeze, kiss.

Canter left. Light, and gentle. Harley's head was up, and his back felt a bit hollow, but he was cantering, with no saddle. This leaves my body no choice but to drive with my seat. I find it difficult to "ride light" without a saddle. I have really only one option, and that's to sit deep and keep my legs active. For the down transition to trot, I put more of my weight in front of my seat than in it, but that was only a stride to three before we were back to a sitting trot.

More of the same going right. What that work did was a few things..

*Accomplished a huge milestone in Harley's training - work on bit contact, all three gaits, minus saddle
*Got us CANTERING around the arena bareback
*Put me in a place to feel the collection.. to feel those back muscles rise underneath me.
*Reminded me that, even though I think I'm in shape, I'm not there 100%. My lower back and my legs cried when I hopped to the ground. I swore Harley was chuckling at me, with his big long yawns as I switched him from bridle to halter.

A good yummy cookie for Harley... Lots of pats and praise... For Harley, that is. For me? Hot bath with soaking salts... and lots of sleep.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Catching Up

A very brief summary with the little bits I can remember

10-12 - hopped on bareback in the halter, end of the lead rope untied itself from the halter, did a little walking with leg cues only

10-13 - longed Harley, first day back after the show. Finished up bareback walk/trot

10-14 - dressage ride; nothing spectacular. good leads, decent trot work, trying to improve collection

10-15 off

10-16 - took Harley out first walk down the road. Met up with crazy dogs, goofy neighbor vehicle traffic. Made it 2/3 to the mailbox when Harley started looking hard for the mini donkey. Spent some time talking with the neighbors about the shooting, other neighborhood gossip. Came home to find CRNG spraying weeds on my side of his property, in a blue speedo underbritches, shoes, and a hat. Nothing else. Planning to either holler a confrontation his way next time I see it, or call the sheriff and turn him in. Near Nekkid Nonsense!

10-17 - Back to the arena (where nobody's nekkid!). Good work, nothing amazing I can remember, other than skipped the longe warmup, and he still rode quiet.

10-18 - Cold front blew in. I expected a zippity-doo-dah Harley, and while we got forward trot work, he was quiet as a mouse. He was startled twice - once when he realized how close the deer were to the pasture (I saw them before he did), and again when the strong 35+mph wind gusts crackled a tree limb. Harley squirted about 2ft off the rail, but stayed at trot, and remained relatively quiet about it.

10-19 off

10-20 - Back to work, longing first neck stretcher. Ride work was lazy. Despite the cooler weather, I needed a serious portion of leg to keep him going. Might be time to pull out the dressage whip to carry or tiny spurs to motivate him.

I'm also preparing the next schooling show registration. This means a weekend of prep work, getting his clothes ready, my clothes ready, and general supplies all packed up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Goal Check!

I had nearly forgotten they were over there on the blog. I looked them over, and thought to myself, "Wow. Farther along than I thought I'd be. Great!" Let's review, shall we?

Insist on nothing less that the utmost respect from Romeo. Use as little force as possible, but as much as necessary.
This is going very well. He's done some work in the arena, some down the road, and has actually been pretty mindful. Moreover, his behavior in the stall has improved during feed time. I can walk in his stall, push his butt or front over, and he's starting to realize that facing me is the best way to be. Leading, he's occasionally still testing "how far can I go", to see if he can race off ahead of me.. A swinging lead rope has been fixing it so far.

Teach Harley how to walk and trot with light collection.
Nearly there. More work to be done to be consistent here...

Teach Harley how to canter on the correct lead.
Very seldom does he blow his leads now. Again, nearly there. He's cantering off on light contact, and on a loose rein, and stays completely steady no matter what. I watched a few Training Level rides on Saturday, and had to chuckle at the horses careening around their 20M circle, hooves nearly tangled up on themselves. We're not great, but we're a little better than a few I saw.

Visit one or two show grounds during an event, and school in the warmup. - Harley
We've done more than visit two. We've competed in two! I thought we'd attend some shows, and just hang out. Instead, we've competed at both. One a somewhat wild open show. The other? A full out dressage schooling show, complete with that ridiculous thunderstorm.

One good solid trail ride away from home. - Romeo
We've left the house, and gone down the road to distances I didn't think we'd make this year. Still, I'd like to get him in the trailer, destination somewhere, and trail ride. More work to be done. I wonder... will it count if I have someone drop me off waay down the road, and I rode back to the house.. hmmm... thoughts?

Ride Harley to the mailbox and back home again.
We're nowhere near this one. I've trail walked him away from the mailboxes, had pretty good success, and.. thinking.. we've walked in hand about 2/3 of the way to the mailbox (the day he spooked at the mini donkey), and I *think* I've ridden him about 1/3 of the way. More to be done ...

Overall, I'd say Not Too Shabby! Riding Harley outside the arena continues to be a nerve-point for me. Monday evening, after a good rubbing curry grooming, and cleaning out his ears, he bridled pretty good (proving he's not fussy about this every day). I hopped on bareback, and walked him around the front yard. I didn't grab my helmet, so I didn't get brave enough to leave the property. Added to the entertainment when the loose end of the lead rope untied itself from his halter (so I only could direct "rein" from one side). I turned him in a few circles from leg only, and that went well enough. He spent the rest of the "ride" munching grass in the front yard. *grin* snuggle time, I think.

Romeo and I are doing good. Considering where we were, and that I don't ride him as much as I want to (bass guitar, keyboard, R, Harley, dogs, all competing for his affection), when I do ride, he's been pretty respectful. When he has acted up, the discipline has been strong and sharp on my part. I am not ashamed of a strong one-rein stop, and I won't hesitate to back him up hard when he ignores me. On the ground, I've used the end of the lead rope as a motivator, and I've also used harsh tone of voice. I haven't needed a dressage whip in-hand to make him mind, so that's good. No chains, either (*EW*).

I Am on the Hunt

Can't find hay...
Can't afford to buy 800 bales from outer mongolia ..


Mr. Tom sold the farm, and the new owner *might* have some next week.. *might*
His price? Not pretty.. Not pretty at all...
Plus, it's between 2&3 hours to get there.. one way

Here's hoping the local feed store has a few I can limp through to next week with ..
Or, some miracle pops up a little closer to home.

Monday, October 10, 2011

10-8-11 Intro Test B - P Grace, Judge

Intro Test B, Pam Grace, Judge
Sienna Stables, Missouri City, TX

1. Enter working trot rising. At X halt through medium walk. Saulte

2. Track left working trot rising
5 = back hollow, counter flexed

3. Circle right 20M at E
6 = starting to come through better

4. Between K & A Medium walk
5 = give through top line, flat

5. F-E Free walk
6 = some stretch; needs more

6. E-H Medium walk

7. Between H&C Working trot rising

8.Circle left 20M at B
7 = much better here

9. X halt salute
8 = square

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 7
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 7
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Much better!

10-8-11 Intro Test A - P Grace, Judge

Intro Test A, Pam Grace, Judge
Sienna Stables, Missouri City, TX

1. Enter working trot rising. Between X & C, medium walk
7 = could be straighter on ctr line but nice transition

2. Track right working trot rising
5 = falling rt. transition late

3. Circle right 20M at A
5 = back hollow, would like rounder stretch into bridle

4. KXM Change Rein
5 = back hollow, would like rounder stretch into bridle

5. Circle left 20M at C
5 = back hollow, would like rounder stretch into bridle

6. Medium walk between C & H
5 = counter flexed

7. HXF Free walk
6 = some stretch - would like to see more

8. F-A medium walk

9. X halt salute
8 = square

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6 (*2)
Rider's Position = 6
Rider's Effectiveness of Aids = 6
Geometry and accuracy = 6

Attractive horse - Encourage rounder topline and more stretch into bridle

10/9/11 Unbelievable Sunday

I woke about 5am to a thunderstorm. Checked the radar, and saw a small line of showers in the area, with a large storm front approaching back home. For nearly an hour I refreshed the radar motion, watched it, and thought, "Yeah, I'll be ok. That'll miss us, probably swing north. We might get a few showers, but things should clear up good."

As the morning moved along, I started to realize that storm was headed right for the show. I convinced myself, "Well, maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe the nervous horses and riders will all scratch, and we'll have a bit of quiet in the arena."

Showed up at the showgrounds, got changed, Harley saddled, and off we went. Jen ran off to get my new day show # from the truck. It started raining steadily, but Harley was minding me on a nice small longe circle at trot. I asked him to canter, he kicked out a little bit, and I had to apologize for his antics to a junior rider on a Fresian. I sent Harley back out on the line, trot left, and the rain increased dramatically. I heard a small thunder rumble, and put it out of my mind.

Then thunder and lightening hit us all at once. Lightening bolt and thunder simultaneous. Harley darted away, again cutting off that Jr/Fresian pair. She hopped off, glaring at me. "Uh, sorry. Thunder, lightening. Maybe your horse didn't see it, mine did. Besides, he's a kid, can't expect that to not startle every horse in here." Immediately after darting from me, I tugged on the line, and started talking soothing words to Harley. He came right up to me, and buried his face in my shirt, a look of sheer terror in his eyes. That girl's horse might not find her comforting, but Harley sure wanted me to make the bad go away.. I wished I could have.

Everyone in the small warm up arena hopped off their horses, and stood completely stock still. I took the neck stretcher off of Harley, and gave him slack in the longe line. He still didn't budge, stood there in the middle of the arena, eyes wide. Thunder and more lightening attacked the show grounds, flooding everything but the covered arenas. I looked across the way to the show ring, and saw some poor young lady trying to finish her test. As she left the arena, her horse reared up, and somehow she stayed on. An utter mess. With her feet firmly on the ground, I focused back on Harley and the weather.

It rained sideways. Winds whipped the newly formed puddles all around. Harley and I hand walked a while, and when he put his face into the wind, we both got sprayed with rain. Observers chuckled at him, startled by a tarp blowing in the wind, but not the least bit moved by the storm. I took the courage to walk up to an older couple to ask, "Please stop opening and closing your umbrella to clean it off. You're startling a lot of the horses, and somebody could get seriously hurt." The man replied, "OOh. Sorry. Thanks for letting us know. We weren't aware." As I walked off, I heard the woman ask, "What did she say?" The man answered angrily, "Stop playing with the umbrella to get the rain off. It scares the horses."

Other riders got back on their horses. There were two horse/rider pairs completely terrified, walking and trotting around the arena, their trainer assuring them, "You'll be fine, just get on." Shocked, Harley and I stood there a while longer.

After some arena rearranging, the show ring was announced "open for warmup", to see the newly placed pickup truck at "C", and the newly moved arena fencing. Harley and I very quietly waited in the rain for the tractor to leave the arena. Lightening flashed just outside the arena again, bring my nerves right back. We walked around the new "show fence", on both sides of the truck. Harley was unphased by the changes, and walked very calmly in hand around the arena. A bunch of other riders joined us, and soon, even the large covered arena was congested.

I saw the smaller warmup arena was empty. Now's my chance... I walked Harley back over to it, and began free longing again. The rain let up, and I thought there just might be a chance we'd ride at least a little. Then the crowd emerged again in the smaller arena, the rain increased, thunder rumbled all around us.

And I gave up. Completely decided it just wasn't worth trying to ride around everyone, especially the two pairs of scared. Jen, R, and I gathered up Harley, all of his things, all of my things, and through more downpours of rain, thunder, and lightening, we headed home. Past the show grounds and before the main highway home, I put leg wraps on in the trailer. The weather was absolutely atrocious getting home for about the first half of the trip.

Yesterday, I was entirely frustrated at myself for quitting without trying. With the exception of a little justified fear at the storm, Harley was quiet, calm, and about as peaceful as I could've expected. He was doing great. But something in my mind said, "He's done great so far, Why screw that up by getting him startled by one of the other scared-pairs? Is there anything to be gained here? Would I even get a score worth qualification out of this mess?"

Then late last night, I realized the sixth sense in my mind that gave me pause. Saturday, in our warmup, Harley and I met that Fresian pair left side to left side, her heading in the opposite direction from me. As we passed, Harley bent his neck and took a scared hard look at them. I remember seeing that Fresian's terrified eyes, and the rider's timid expression. I also remember giving Harley a little nudge of inside leg/outside rein, and a little pat with my hands, followed by a vocal, "Shh.. You're okay Harley, keep going." My memory didn't flash to it, but my subconscious must have realized, "She's scared, the horse is terrified, and if we're in these small quarters with them, something bad could very well happen."

That sixth sense was further confirmed this morning. I looked at the show results from yesterday. All but one Adult Amateur scratched Intro level classes yesterday afternoon. One brave adult rode Intro C, but every single other AA scratched. It wasn't just me, it wasn't just Harley. Experienced adults on older horses gave up before they even arrived. Harley and I were the brave ones - we showed up, we dressed, we longed, we hand walked through the storm. That gives me a little more confidnece that we're making some progress.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

10-8-11 Intro B

I walked Harley between the dressage "arena" fence and the arena rail. Down the "Scary side". As he approached some jump standards standing up near center marker, I realized he was a little afraid of them. A little pat and some sweet talk, he walked right by them. He also saw letter marker "R" laying down, and thought a bit of fear at it, too. Again a pat and some sweet words. I noticed the judge half-watching us. She said something to her scribe, who giggled. I turned at the long side end, and headed back towards "A". As we got just around the warm up area in front of "A", she rang the bell.
hah. We're over the scary side boogers. Let's do this!

His work felt good. Not super good circles at trot, but his free walk seemed a little better to me, and his trot was nice. I felt a few moments of collection, but he didn't hold it very long. I didn't expect him to, it's Intro level. Harley's transitions were much better in B than in A, so I was pretty delighted.

As he came down centerline at the end, he was straight, and solid. His halt was square, and I was delighted. I saluted, and took quite a few steps foward. As we were leaving the arena, I muttered to Harley..

"Hey buddy, much better job this time! I heard 6s, did you hear 6s? I think we got at least some 6s, and that's not bad stuff there!"

A long relaxing walk on the buckle to cool him down. Hot day, fuzzy horse, he enjoyed marching over the obstacle arena course, over some poles, past some flower boxes, and over a wooden bridge. Marched right along, pretty happy with himself.

Test A? 58%
Test B? 62.5%

That's one score towards qualifying for series Championships in December. One down, one to go. Let's see if we can't kick that out tomorrow, Harley, hmm??

10-8-11 Intro A - Score & Thoughts

I'll post the true test movements and judge's very generous comments later next week. For now, I'll spare everyone the suspense of "How'd the show go so far?"

Arrival was delightful. He seemed spacious in his stall (uhm, small horse, big stalls!), and his handwalk around the arenas and show grounds were super relaxed. He didn't really spook at anything. Goofy horses being longed, terrified horses spooking under saddle, two riding mowers roaring around, two weed eaters spitting rocks around. Harley? Startled at one weed eater that spit a rock out, but otherwise? Zero reactions to all the other potential spooks. As I hand walked him down an arena rail, he let out a heavy sigh, and I had weepy-eyed goosebumps. My little baby was growed up! Not letting all the extras bug him, not spooking at the boogers,, good good boy!

Saturday ...

Harley and I had a nice free longe, taking in the sights of the arena and the other participants. There were plenty of crazies to watch, and the show arena was quiet and serene. All that going, he was quiet.. One little burp canter-left, but eh, I wasn't too shocked by that.

Back to the trailer to saddle, while I changed clothes. Suddenly, we were pressed for time...
cue bad news music here
Harley went nice in the neck stretcher, and I hopped on. Again, he was going pretty good. We were still short on time, and I didn't feel quite ready when we were heading to the show arena. I was next, and the arena was completely clear. They were waiting for me. Oh.. crud
more bad news music here

As I got to the arena, and the judge rang the bell, I picked up the trot. Headed in a bit circle outside the arena. Harley saw something on the "M, B, F" long side he didn't like. I pushed on, and came down centerline.

Transition to walk, good. Felt solid, felt like he lowered his head for the transition. Harley drug his toes for the walk,,, ugh.. his walk always feels slow to me. Turned right, picked up trot.

Then I realized there was something outside the long side Harley was completely terrified of. I sat the trot, and even remember stirrups kicking loose. He broke gait, but I pushed him on, a little cluck under my breath. Harley was kind of trotting haunches in (cute, were it required... but!)... Obviously terrified of the long side, but I pushed on. Down at A, I was able to get a pretty decent circle, followed by a half decent diagonal on trot. Back to the "scary side", he cut the corner of the arena pretty short.

Trot circle on that end? Eh... Again, more like a scary oval. *lol* I focused on what else was required of him, and slowed to walk. He aimed down the diagonal for free walk, but obviously not too happy with me and my crazy idea to get him in this now scary arena. I tried to get some stretch in the free walk, but it wasn't too great. Shortened to working walk, centerline, halt, salute.

I was glad it was over. Headed to the big outdoor arena, lots of walk on the buckle. I needed to calm down, and so did Harley. We had a pretty significant break between A & B. We averted a pretty big disaster as we left one warmup arena for the other. Another horse and rider pair were being chased by their trainer, snapping a longe whip at the horse to make her go forward. The mare reared up (I didn't see it, but was warned, and then told, "They're headed this way."), and we made our mad exit out of the arena.

Our time was up for Intro B, and then I felt more prepared. His trot work had been nice in the break between tests, the free walk had more stretch, and he was certainly paying better attention in his transitions.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

10/5/11 Riding Harl... BANG!

I approached Harley to halter him in the pasture last night, Mattes' half pad in-hand. He backed away from me, appearing terrified. ah, yes. Scary half pad, haven't seen that monster away from the trailer/arena... Got'cha.. I haltered him, and proceeded to sack him out with the pad, until he'd lower his head while I drug the pad over his face and past his ears. Took a few minutes, nothing tragic. Okay.. With the boogity scary half-pad monster conquered, let's go saddle up, and get to the arena.

I got out to the arena, and decided to try something. Again, with the show approaching, I needed to know how he'd behave without a longe. Stormy showers in the forecast, so we might be limited to cold-backed starts without a neck stretcher longe warmup. He looked puzzled when I got on right away, but moseyed on in a nice marching walk. I'm still trying to get my mind around how much walk I can expect from him. It's steady, it's forward, but it's not big. I let him go out loose rein for a bit, and he agreeably popped into trot. In a corner, again, I saw a sparkle of wrinkly-confused eyes, probably wondering what was up with the entirely loose rein trot around the rail. He stretched, reached, and settled into a relaxed trot.
What the heck was that?! Harley's head popped up, and his ears showed me the sound of gunfire came from CRNG's property. Maybe CRNG has decided to hunt at his house, and shot something. That was odd... Okay, anyways. He didn't have a wild reaction to it, so I didn't worry, thinking it was over.

Worked ourselves into a little light contact, then solid rein contact at the walk. A few walk/halt transitions, which were pretty awesome (again, knowing I hadn't done any kind of neck stretcher warmup.. this was a "cold start"). I asked him to trot, on a bit shorter rein than the walk, and he was agreeable to it.
bang! Hey, Harley, come here, sweetie. It's okay, it startled me too.. What the heck is he doing over there?!
Gunfire, again. It sounded pretty harsh, pretty strong. I started thinking... if CRNG is shooting over there, which direction could he be shooting in?
To the front, is the road.

To the right, is Mister Tim's house
To the left-rear, that's the family with kids behind my place
To the left-front, that's ... uh.... *four letter word*.. That's The ARENA!
Lovely ... Just lovely.

Back to the trot work. I rode through test pieces again, and even got a little effort in the free walk. Harley's ears were all over the arena, and when I figured he was listening for the next shot, I tried to not worry about it, a little inside leg/inside rein to keep us both focused.
He needs me to stay calm here. I know Romeo's probably up there having a hissy fit, his previous owners shooting him with a bb gun. Yay ... poor Mo.. Okay, let's get some canter work in, and pray ourselves silly CRNG doesn't let a shot go in the transition..

Trot, trot, Canter left. Harley got his lead, and the gun didn't go off. Whew. His canter work was on just a little contact after the transition. I felt just a few strides of him reaching down for the bit, and it caught me off guard. I was too busy thinking about heels down, look where we're going to even think about the bit except to keep my arms moving with his front end. Eased back to trot, and settled to walk. slip! oops,, crud! Okay Okay, I'll get new pads for my stirrups, these seem pretty wore out, and if I put any foot pressure in them with heels down, they keep slipping off my feet. Grr...

Good freaking grief! What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is he doing over there!? Yeah, Harley, I know.... we'll be done soon. Not that going up to the house, and thus closer to his house, makes me feel any safer.. ugh!

Back to trot, followed by canter right. A few more good strides reaching into the contact, head down relaxed. Whee! Fantastic! We're getting closer to canter on contact. yay!!

Worked more on trot collected, and had some pretty fantastic back-up trot. Very nice to feel his back lift, and the light rein pressure. Very nice. Let him relax a little with walk/halts, and was trying to decide in my mind if I wanted to do canter again, or ride through intro B pieces again..

bang! Harley stopped hard, head up, and I could just barely feel him shaking.
Alright, that's it. I quit.. CRNG, you win for today.

I understand.. I live in the country.. I'm told "it's legal for him to shoot on his property". I'm not anti-gun. I am anti-stupid though. In my opinion, I don't think he has enough property to shoot safely. I don't think he has any side of the property he owns that doesn't have a house or road behind whatever he's shooting at. The only advice I was given was "call the cops, make a written record of the event. That way, if he does shoot at my house, damage my property, injure a horse, I have proof he's shot before." So, basically, I have to wait until something is damaged or injured. Just wonderful. CRNG too cheap/too stupid to get a range membership, so I have to lurk in my front yard with caution.

Harley and I tip toed up to the trailer, unsaddled, and I hosed him off pretty quickly before leading him to his stall and stuffing him with supper. Knowing he was at least behind the aluminum panels of his stall munching gave me a little comfort. Where things will end from here, I have no idea. I'm going to be nervous and anxious out in the front/side yards until I don't hear that gun going off for a while. I was entirely too angry to call the police last night, because I was pretty sure I'd lose my cool if they said, "Yeah, we can't do anything about it. That's what you get for living in the country", or any modification of the statement. I understand "it's legal", but there are houses, horses, and children too close on any side of his house. I considered going over myself and asking him what was going on, but, I know CRNG drinks... I cornered him a few years ago when he and his drunk buddies were launching golf balls at my house, one landing in the side yard directly in front of a crossrail Mo and I were approaching. He made a huge joke of it then, and I think only one of his friends took me seriously. This guy is dangerous.... and I'm not real sure what to do about him.

One more saddle day at the house before we depart for the weekend show grounds.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10/4/11 Nyah Nyah

Romeo went first, and we went on about an hour and fifteen minute walk/trot down the road. We made it past the three goofy neighbor horses, me mounted, some at trot. We got past first, second, all the way to third corner. I stopped when I knew Mo could see the last straightaway before the road split. We're awful close to my year goal with him for "down the road". One more straightaway to go, and back on home, and we're there. On the way back home, CRNG sped past us, engine zooming, a few feet from us. I'm about sure he was trying to spook us, as there was plenty of road space on his own side of the road. Jerk!

Harley was up next. All three gaits, one lead wrong, and a bit more give to the bit. I rode him through almost all of Intro A. Realizing there's no "Halt at X" to start off the ride, I'm a bit perplexed. I skipped that, and departed the test from "X". His circles are round, though my arena not being perfect dressage size, they're not all 20m. Close enough to the pattern, but far enough away he won't be memorizing it. I hope. He got a little stiff towards what I thought would be end of the ride. Tossing his head UP at every transition. I slowed things down a bit, and did some walk/trot transitions. As they improved, we slowed to walk/halt transitions. About a dozen transitions walk/halt, halt/walk later, he was back to normal, well behaved. A good long groom when we finished, all with the brushes, since he's turned into a huge ball of grey fuzz in the cooler temperatures. Didn't feel like hosing him and waiting while he dried. Brush, Brush, Brush.


Yup, I owe a vacation update. Pictures, links, all other kinds of goodness. R and I travelled to San Antonio for the weekend. Refreshing, relaxing, and very exercising. *giggle* We got lost on foot, at least four times. OOPS! Very reflective trip as well.

Back to the ponies...
With their long vacation, I was expecting stiff and resistant. Ooh Yeah! Monday morning, I chose Harley first. Stiff, stubborn, but forward in the refreshing cool air. I asked for trot, and he took off. I used every tiny little ounce of confidence I had, and let him go forward, ever so slowly shortening the reins.

He got better as the ride went on. I worked through some pieces of the upcoming show tests, but didn't go through either of them start to finish. no pattern learning, Harley! His canter work was all correct, and big! I giggled at him, long strided down the arena long sides. HAH! Go buddy!

Romeo? Well, every horse has to have a bad day. Romeo chose Monday. He didn't get his right canter lead the first three asks. First time, I couldn't get him stopped, and had to pull his head around to an ugly one-rein stop. Second time, more of the same. Third time, I tugged hard on the bit, and raced him backwards. I was angry, and he knew exactly why. I asked the fourth time, perfect lead. But Racing like a ninja! He ran!!! I didn't leave that go for long, before I shortened him back to a trot. Then since he seemed to be ignoring reins and turns, we trotted enough circles and figure-8s.. I was dizzy!

Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm Still Here

Happy Friday ya'll. I rode good last weekend, Fri and Sat. Sunday I woke up with a stomach virus, complete with flu and fever. Boo...

Needless to say I haven't ridden since. Heading away today and tomorrow, minus the horses. A mini vacation, and I will get pictures to share.

Harley is coming along nicely still. "Dressage Person" who offered up the training tips, thanks! I'm all-ears, lay it on me! Ready to hear whatever you've got. I am willing to try.

Until Monday, you guys all have a great weekend. I will be back in the tack Sunday evening, and will update more next week. Harley and I are anxious to get back in the show ring next weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

9/22/11 Harley sans Saddle

heh heh heh... If only he was a little smoother in the down transitions....

Harley moseyed from the pasture up to the trailer to get 'dressed'. As I sprayed him with flyspray, he lowered his head further with a heavy sigh. I brushed what appears to be the summer coat beginning to shed out with a sadness. "Keep it up, bugger. You'll get the clippers soon enough you fuzz up too early." I grabbed the western pad, and stuck my bareback pad on top of it. cushion, ladies.. you know what I mean?

Out to the arena. Ten minutes free longe, expecting any kind of goofyness, but I got none. Neck stretcher longe, with great results. He was lazy, and had no intentions on moving out in the stretcher without push push from me. Took him to the mounting block, added reins, helmet, and made sure the pad cinch was tight. Off we go.

I gathered up the reins immediately, mostly out of curiosity. Did he learn from the week before, when I started instantly on working walk to free walk transitions? Yes on the working walk, not so much on the free walk. It took a good deal of working walk before he stretched down, which I immediately rewarded with longer reins. Even that didn't last but 3/4 of a circle before he lifted back up again. Blech. More do be done there.

Our work went straightaway into transitions. Walk/Halt/Walk was very nice. The best I've ridden on him yet, in fact. Walk/Trot/Walk, eh, it's getting there. Surprising to me, left is better than right. Heading right, he hops UP into the trot, lifting his front end instead of pushing from behind.

In the trot, I found a gap in my own balance (perhaps the reasoning for his right trot transitions being yucky). As he went into trot left, I was able to post easily, and sit with minimal concentration. When Harley went into trot right, I nearly came off, legs flapping all around. "Yikes, Har, Looks like Momma has some work to do here, too. Bear with me, baby." After a circle or so, I realized I wasn't sitting centered, and my legs weren't evenly stretched down. Forced some posting trot right, and some direction changes, and then things finally evened out. Sheez.

Had I been absolutely convinced Harley's canter down to trot transitions would've been as smooth as his UP transitions normally are, I probably would've ridden canter both ways. However, 75-80% of his down transitions out of canter are a bit bouncy, and usually unless I focus 100%, toss me around in an effort to stay relaxed. Knowing this, I didn't ask for the bareback canter. It's coming, it's on the way, just not yet.

Total working session, about 45-50 minutes. We ended with more working walk to free walk, and some really nice turns on forehand and haunches. Only sticker there.. turn on haunches to the.... right. Yup, right (I had to think about it there, which way I felt dizzy because we did it so much). He'd take one step crossover in front, then move his rear end around, then another step in front. Time to work on it from the ground again, I believe. Turns on forehand, we had 360 in both directions. Turn on haunches headed left, I had 270 before he got wiggly. It's progress for sure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

9-20-11 Romeo

A little over an hour before sunset, I wandered outside and caught Romeo. Harley watched from his pasture, curious. Tacked Mo up, and headed to the arena.

No warmup on the longe, I just hopped on. Lots of good loose rein walking and jogging to warm up his muscles and his mind. Adjusted the jog stride to a working trot a while, then back to jog. He was relaxed, neck level with his withers, ears alert to the deer grazing through. Lope work was pretty. Cute, soft, relaxed. For a while there, I had to squeeze and drive to keep him going. All the down transitions on 'air brakes'. Turns on forehand and haunches, all sticky to start, but improved.

For a bit at the end, I worked on turns on haunches. After a recent HorseMaster TV episode, I decided maybe we'd take a stab at rollbacks. First step was a good halt, which we've got. Second is the turn, which improved last night. Finally, is the lope off from a halt. That'll take some work. I caught myself doing the same thing the TV rider was doing - not looking deliberately and clearly where we were going in the rollback. Once I repositioned my body, my entire body, and looked back over my shoulder in the new direction, his turns got much sharper and focused. Neat stuff...

About 40 minutes out there total. We ended our work pushing some deer that were outside the arena (from inside). Mo walked towards them, and one doe darted away, just to migrate right back to the fenceline. I told Mo under my breath, "Git'er", and he very deliberately walked over towards her. The doe, realizing we were pretty serious, took off again, but as I was dismounting and opening the gate, there she was again, same spot. "Hey Mo, don't freak out when they all take off every direction crazy." As we left the arena, all SIX of them went every which way. I laughed, Mo let out a heavy sigh. Fun...

In other news, I thought I was going to be broadcasting a concert event in my local hometown. Benefit concert for a local charity. Somehow, through some horribly bad communication, what was originally supposed to cost $800 turned into over $2000. That information didn't surface until after I had secured $800 in donations, gotten permission to host and organize the event, and had a lot of eager folks ready to help out. A very unfortunate turn of events. I can hope the event planner has learned from her error in making one deal with me, then changing it. A very disappointing situation, indeed.