Friday, November 29, 2013

Food Good. Jump Better.

The things a little energy can give us.

I've had some really REALLY nice rides on Harley in the cooler weather.  It's finally cooled here - blankets at night, sometimes all day.  A strong cold front blew in just before Thanksgiving, and made it downright yuck for about two days.  Cool, windy, and rainy.  When the arena dried for work, I was surprised to find Harley ready to go.  No wild goofball moments, no "spook at the trees or birds", but instead, more long&low stretch than I've had voluntarily in a LONG time.  He started the ride stretching down, which really shocked me.  I had some trot moments that were totally fantastic.

Yesterday, after snarfing down some amazing foods, I saddled him up huntseat and headed to the arena.  A little longe, quiet pony.  A bit of ride, quiet still.  He had his head up, and while I didn't force collected work, he was drooling on the bit, and bending nicely.  A little trot warm-up found him forward and alert.  Let's just do this.  R's in the house if I splat, I have my phone with me, here we go!

With a strong focus on forward trot heading to the ground pole, Xrail, ground pole, and a good tap of the new riding crop on his shoulder, Harley was almost in a canter heading towards the line.  Boing!  Straight up and over.   He landed in the correct lead of canter, ears up & alert, looking for the next activity.  We rode it three times straight, and each one felt a little better.  Short walk break, and right back to it.  I found myself able to focus on me, heels down, eyes up, look at the treetops over the jump instead of looking nowhere, hands entirely forward.  He'll canter a stride or three away from the jump, then settle back to trot on his own.  Not exactly what I'll need going into the future, but it's awesome not to need to hang on and worry about him going somewhere.  Important when there's not a solid fence around the arena.

Changed directions, and headed left over the line.  First time I've done that here, and important because, directly after the Xrail outside the arena, there's a huge clearing.  This clearing usually causes a startle in the last four horses I've ridden out there.  The north-west winds soar through that clearing - it goes for MILES with a huge hi-power electric line through it.  Harley bent an ear towards it, but was pretty focused on what was going on.  I made sure the trot was huge heading in, and he jumped very strong over the X.  I think he originally didn't see the ground pole after, and over reacted.  Still, I had my hands 3/4 the way up his neck, reins loose.  I had a hunch the first go-over left would be big, so I made sure NOT to get in his face.  The next few trips over got progressively better.

There was at least one jump that felt *perfect* to me.  I don't mean in the "geez, I think I got it right", I mean both of us got it good.  I felt very secure and balanced in front, over, and after, my reins were loose, heels were down, I felt like most of my weight was in my feet rather than centered in my bum, and Harley seemed to have a nice "pause/jump, land, canter". 

A totally terrific ride.  The bigger the trot going in, the better the jump.  I'm looking forward to the next time we do it, and talking myself into adding that extra X.   We're going to one more show this year, TL1, TL2, PC1.  I'm going to read over PC2 for entertainment's sake, and perhaps try it out here at home, just to see how he does.  MsN says that PC2 goes with TL, and I honestly haven't read it in a long time.

Y'all keep riding, or posting pictures of the snow. :)  I've got some medical updates, and I'll get that post up sooner or later.  Things are progressing, and not as quick as I'd like. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/17/13 Reinforcement

I drug myself back to Harley's pen after riding Mo around the neighborhood.  My legs said, "This isn't a good idea".  My brain said, "We have to.  Need to reinforce the lessons from yesterday, and keep those new two point muscles active instead of let them get lazy again."

So off we went to the arena, jump saddle.  After a brief warm-up, I got down to business.  And I do mean it.  I rode a BUNCH of two point trot.  I'd ride until my legs burned, then I'd ride it just another bit longer.  I rode it on the circles, I rode it down the long side.  I made myself do it. 

With no whip in my hands (didn't find it until hours after the ride today), and no spurs on, I had to do something to get his big trot and keep him moving while I wiggled around in two point.  I set one hand on both reins, still on his neck, and tapped him with the buckle end of the reins on the neck.  ZOOM.  I caught him once, just as he sprung forward.  Oh crap, that's what I don't want to do.  Next time, I reached forward with both hands, tapped him with the buckle, and he again bounced ahead.  Perfect.  Before too long, Harley realized that the only way to keep that from happening was to increase his go when I squeezed and clucked to him.  Exactly what I want. 

Then we did a little bit of canter in two point.  The results here were amazing.  I was cantering two point full circles, and even down the long side and into another circle.  Totally fabulous! Such an improvement over the lazy pony that would break to trot every time I'd lift out of the tack.  This was a nice surprise.

I did a little sitting trot, just until he settled in the contact when I changed from posting to sitting.  Then, it was onto posting trot a while, thinking heels down, elbows bending bending.  It's getting better.  I shortened up the reins only a little while, wanting to see how he'd manage if I was bending my elbows actively.  Things went well.. Much to work on here, but will be easier in the dressage saddle where I'm not so focused on my body position.

Back to a tad more two point at trot and canter, and I called it a day.  A very solid 35 minutes, where I admit I did more work than Harley.  He seemed pretty happy with himself, enjoying the nice weather and me not smacking him in the mouth like I did Saturday.

Progress.. Slow, but progress.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

11/16/13 Lesson

Or more appropriately, gotta have a bad day to keep me honest.

Harley warmed up pretty good.  Rode flat work a little while, realized my two point still needs a LOT of work.  Cantered over one ground pole, and then two, something he refused to do at home.  Funny to feel it there, two poles in a row - hop hop - all effortful & stuff.  Goofball flat refused to do that here a few months ago.

Then it was off to the gymnastics.  Epic Fail to start out.  I wasn't putting enough go in his trot heading to it, and it felt like he was overpowering the x.  Which caused me panic, and a nice standard dose of "Hang on for dear life" - complete with pulling back over the jump, and leaning on him in the landing.  Finally, I had to just reach up forward, grab some mane, cluck and kiss hard to him, and let him do the work.  Of course, he was amazing.  Ended the day with ground pole, crossrail, stride, crossrail, stride, crossrail.  Not a bad ending.  A really rough start, though.

That's one of the first times I've had to think about *not* pulling back over the jumps.  Dang it.. I so hoped I wouldn't start doing it to need to quit.  I'm focused for the next few weeks:

LOTS of two point.. LOTS.  A bunch at trot, and some at canter.  I'm going to build up the muscles needed to hold the two point for a little more every ride.

LOTS of forward trot.  I've gotten myself a riding crop with a leather flap on the end (Ms N -- found it at the local TSC - score!), and I'll start using it.  This means... ask for that trot, but then don't panic and grab rein when I get it.  When Harley gives me the big trot he needs to get over those x's, I need to loosen my upper body enough to let him see the big trot is good. 

LOTS of ground pole, x, ground pole, and leave the reins loose from up front, clear to a few strides away.  I MUST learn to not slow him down just after.  I need to feel that calm canter he gives away from the jumps. 

After thinking about it, the really only other memorable thing from the lesson - elbows.  "My body to my elbows are mine.  Elbows to my hands are an extension of the reins, and belong to Harley."  Focus on bending those elbows in the posting trot rather than going stiff & rigid.  When he twists out, or leans out on the circle, push him out with my legs and meet him where he put his face.  "Contact is not an option when I ride, and he must learn to accept it." 

LOTS to work on, and it's got to get better from here.  I realize it's minor... but I wish I'd done better.  Ah well, there's always the next time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

11.10.13 AHHf Prix Caprilli 1

Marilyn Kulifay Judge

1.  A Enter at Walk
D Halt. Salute.
D-E Proceed to left in working trot rising
7.0  Fairly straight halt and to E

2.  C  Circle right 20m
6.0 Circle to be rounder

3.  After C Turn down quarter line, taking fence #1 from trot, returning to track
Before A Working trot

4.  Before E Develop medium walk
E Turn Right

5.  Before B Develop working trot
B Turn right
6.0  careful not to pull inside rein to turn

6. C Circle left 20m
6.0  Circle to be rounder

7.  After C Turn down aurterline, taking fence #2 from trot, returning to track
Before A Working trot

8.  Before B Develop medium walk
B Turn left
5.0  Develops walk twice

9.  Before E Develop working trot
 E Turn right

10.  MXK  Change rein in 2-point / balance position

11.  After A Turn down quarterline, taking fence #3
Before C Working trot
6.0  hit jump with hind

12.  E Turn left
X Turn left
G Halt. Salute

Gaits 7.0
Suppleness & Balance  7.0
Relaxation & Obedience 6.0
Rider  6.0

Attractive pair!  Make sure to release clearly over jumps so doesn't block hind leg.  Steady test.

11.10.13 AHHf Training #2

Marilyn Kulifay Judge

1 A Enter working trot.
X Halt salute
6.5 Slight drift to right, but fairly straight halt. careful not to pull inside rein

2 C Track right & B circle right 20m
6.5 circle to be rounder
3 KXM Change rein working trot
7.5 good use of corners

4 Between C & H Working canter left lead
6 obedient , but then twists head outside of arena slightly

5 E Circle left 20m
6.5 slight bracing in neck / body

6 Between E & K Working trot
6.5 needs a bit more prep

7 A Circle left 20m, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins
6 shows stretch. ask for even more

8 Between A & F Medium walk
6 careful not to pull rein into medium

9 FXM Free walk
M-C Medium walk
6.5 ask for even more stretch down, shows overstride

10 C Working trot
6 prompt. horse playing with bit somewhat

11 E Circle right 20m
6.5 needs a bit more energy here

12 FXH Change rein working trot
5.5 loses trot stride and a half, corrected

13 Between C & M Working canter right lead

14 B Circle right 20m
6.5 needs a bit more energy

15 Between B & F Working trot
6 anticipating. almost early

16 A Down centerline. X halt salute
6 fairly straight, but then steps back and goes on 3 tracks

RIDER'S position 6.5
RIDER'S correct and effective use of aids 6.5

Lovely pair! Horse needs gentle elastic connecti - rider to use more inside leg.

11.10.13 AHHf Training #1

Marilyn Kulifay Judge
Score 64.2%

1 A Enter working trot
X Halt, Salute Proceed working trot
7.5 Straight halt Slightly right of centerline

2 C Track left E Circle left 20m
7 Needs prep before C Shows energy

3 A Circle left 20m, developing left lead canter second half of circle
AFB working canter
6.5 Obedient Needs a bit more prep and balance

4 B-E Half circle left 20m

5 Between E & K Working trot
6 Needs prep, a little fussy in bridle

6 A Circle left 20m rising trot, allowing the horse to stretch forward and downward
Before A, shorten the reins A Working trot
5.5 minimal stretch. better last 1/4 of circle

7 Between A & F Medium walk
6 Needs more march

8 FXH Free walk H-C Medium walk
6.5 shows overstride, some stretch, ask for more

9 C Working trot
6.5 prompt. Needs better connection

10 B Circle right 20m
6.5 Needs a bit more energy here

11 A Circle right 20m, developing right lead canter second half of circle
AKE Working canter
6 needs forward thinking

12 E-B Half circle right 20m

13 Between B & F Working trot
6 needs prep and balance

14 A Down centerline X Halt, Salute
6.5 on centerline @ A, then drifts Right into fairly straight halt

GAITS : 6.5
RIDER's position & seat : 6.5
RIDER's use of aids : 6.5
Lovely pair! Stride to keep a light elastic consistent rein contact - sometimes connection comes and goes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

11.10.13 AHHf Prix Caprilli

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Prix Caprilli 1

11.10.13 AHHf Training #2

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Training 2 63.8%

11.10.13 Training #1

All Heart Horse Farm
Marilyn Kulifay
scores and comments will be added this week
Training 1 64.2%

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Intense Concentration

In the last few rides, I've been preparing for a show this coming Sunday.  Training 1, Training 2, Prix Caprilli 1.  I've gathered some new supplies for the show (true shipping boots, and a rolling saddle & supply rack), with a magnet sheet on the way soon.  I hope it arrives before Sunday, but I'll make it work without.

I've noticed that, at home, Harley is amazingly good.  He's soft, willing, forward, and seems to pay good attention to me.  At the shows, he always feels stiff and heavy.  Lazy, too laid back, and incredibly difficult to bend.  I rode some test parts earlier this week, and he did it again.  So I started to observe everything I could use. 

And within a few minutes, I found it.  When I start thinking, "this piece, then this piece, then next I'll do.. and next...", my upper body locks up.  Stiffens - tenses - I lose my soft hands and my cooperative elbows and nice way of following him.  Harley responds by, of course, tensing up. 

In the coming competition, I need to ride the horse, and his movement, and not the test parts.  I need to focus on how he's doing, and bury the test parts in the back of my mind.  I have practiced this a LOT this week since I figured it out.  I spent one entire ride thinking off to the side "next is a circle here", then in front thinking "this is a good time for a little inside leg to outside rein, support him, look with my whole upper body in the turn, ,GOT IT." 

It's a shift.  I realize I'm slowly growing into being calm enough in my position, and secure enough in my cues, that I can think about HOW I'm going to get there, and not just getting there.  Instead of putting all my mind into "outside leg back for the canter, eyes, give with my hands, squeeze", I can think "okay, here, we're going to transition to the canter, so ahead I need to prepare him for it, squeeze him up, look, leg yield and ask, but know where we're going after we do it."  It should make for a very interesting show.

My goal for Prix Caprilli is simple - jump the jumps.  Not trot-overs, but approach them with enough energy in the trot that he'll actually put the jumping effort into it.  Land in canter, bring him back to trot , as the test actually says, rather than just a lazy trot-over. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

11/4/2013 Monkey Mondays

MoJo went grape picking with MrsMom.  Here's how it went. 
 There's grapes in there? Really?

 oooooo THERE they are!!


Stop to smell the Confederate Rose

See? Purty