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!