Friday, January 31, 2014

Perspective 2012 / 2014

Flashing back to a day in 2012 I felt brave (or was it stupid, who knows)...

Or maybe *this one* will tickle your fancy.  Dear heavens ..

Wrong saddle
NO 2point (eegads, not even close)
While I wasn't hanging on his face for dear life, I wasn't providing a lot of guidance either, now was I?
I'm glad we're getting better, for sure
That's all I have to say about that!
see, even I can admit I have crappy rides.. and I'm not ashamed of them, either.  What I am, is super darn happy Harley tolerates my crazy skillz.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1/25/2014 On film

EDIT - I thought the video clip was working, and now I see that while it says it's linked from youtube to the blog, it sure doesn't play. 

Here's the link ..
Or, click here. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

1/25/14 Lesson

Highlights.. before I forget anything else. 

*We do have video.  R came along and captured most of the ride on the camera.  I had my GoPro, but I accidentally hit the power button instead of the "record" button.  Shucks.  But I have some clipping/editing/boring stuff removing work to do on it, and I'll probably merge some clips together for learning and educating.

*To make the trot to canter transition pretty, ask for a good bend first.  If he is awkward in the bend, and the trot is bad, or he lurches into the canter, immediately back to trot.  If the bend is nice, the canter transition will be nice.

*Harley cantered three poles on the circle, then the middle one was elevated.  Ask for a solid, steady, good canter coming into the poles, but don't force perfection just yet.  Middle elevated to about 9" tall - this we can sort of repeat at home using the rail razors.  *easier to ride him through the canter poles/cavaletti than to ask him on the line.  It sounded like BS until we did it, then repeated it at home Sunday.  Well danged if she wasn't totally right...*

*Rode the gymnastic again.  One cross rail, then a vertical added (about 18" tall), then eventually another one added two strides out from that.  Came at it from both directions - the ones with the vertical first were fairly ugly, but they got much better.

*Peaked the ride with crossrail, four strides of nothing (no x's, no ground poles, nothing), and a vertical at the end.  VERY awesome to jump the first X, then count to myself "1, 2, 3, 4",  and just KNOW that he was going to jump it.  From where I was, I could "feel" in the jump work when he was probably going to "go big", and I was doing better about letting him do just that.  I never once felt the "oh sh!t he's going to canter away bigger than I'm ready for", but instead, I almost thought he could've given me a bit more.  His strides felt teensy tiny, short, and squished.  :-)  It was cute.  Compact little powerhouse engine in his hiney.

*Upper body and hands were better - a good amount of "give".  Feel free to let the reins slip from my hands when it feels like I've been "left behind", so I don't smack Harley in the mouth on the landings.  Still work on getting those feet "out in front", toes up, and be in a safer more defensive body position.  I think I need to spend some time in 2-point where the camera sits stationary, watching the different positions, both the one I have, and where I need to be (or what I think is "correct"), then watch it afterwards to see the differences.

*Next lesson we plan on riding some of the jumps in the field, so we won't have the "prep ground pole", or the rhythm of repetitive jumps. Should be super fun.

*Wisdom "nugget" of the lesson. Every ride you are either training your horse, or un-training your horse. -- As I read other blogs that say "we've just been trail riding at the walk. I don't know why my "broke" horse isn't going "broke" anymore, but spooks a lot and does ___ or ___, and keeps doing ."

Back home on Sunday, I repeated the canter poles, on the ground (too lazy to hop off and elevate them), and he only had one ugly "blunder through", where he fell apart to trot in the middle.  Otherwise, he cantered them nicely both directions.  Quick learner.

I rode an X, what I thought was three strides, to another X.  It felt short.  Okay, it was worse than short.  It felt like two good solid strides, then an itty bitty one, then another jump that was awkward.  So I measured it out on foot after the ride.  OOps.  Lots of spreading / adjusting to do.

Each lesson gives us a bunch of different exercises to work on at home, and it's always more than I remember to repeat.  I am hoping I wrote them all out here, and maybe just maybe I can have enough of my ducks in a row this time to have more progress to show next time.   *Another wisdom nugget I remembered less than two minutes from writing this out ... The more different kinds of jumps and situations I expose Harley to while he's still young, the better.  Like humans, he's going to have more bravery the younger he is, and as he ages the less courageous he'll be to brand new things.  More explains all the variety in each lesson - we only ride a pattern 2-3 times and then it changes.  The jumps change, the sizes change, the direction changes, it's nothing for too awfully long.  This is slightly different than what I thought, but given his eagerness to 'get down the jump line', I can willingly go along with him.  Harley does like variety, that's for sure.*

Cold for the area tonight again, freezy stuff tomorrow likely.  We had frozen stuff (ICE!) last Friday, and I sure was glad I didn't have to go anywhere.  Ice on everything, even on Harley's blanket tail flap.  Brrr...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Harley - the Highlights

Since the last post.. Here's what I think are the highlights and things worth sharing from our rides.

*Improved trot quality - the jump work has definitely picked up his trot energy.  I don't feel like I'm always pushing, but I can ask once, and he'll pick up the pace.

*Riding "outside the lines" - I spent two days last week with brief spurts of 'arena work', followed by deliberately riding outside the arena "space".  In the open pasture, walk, and trot, asking for a general direction, but letting him pick his space for feet to land.  Things here went a LOT better than I expected. We also rode into the shadowy places in the pasture a bit, up against the brush line a little, and up and down the small inclines near the pond. 

*Cantering down the diagonals.  To get out of the habit of riding canter straight lines on only one side of the arena (my jumps cluttering the other side), I rode canter around the short side, then straight down the diagonal.  Towards the end of the diagonal, Harley had a little "hesitation" - we did some simple changes way back last year or so, and I could feel him wondering what was different, why I didn't ask for them.

*The funniest moment had to be trot on the circle, head down the diagonal, ask for more trot.  He picked up a canter on the lead from the circle.  I eased him down, but immediately requested that big trot again.  So he picked up canter again, on the other lead we'd be going into.  I laughed hard, eased him back to a trot, and couldn't do more than finish out that diagonal, then let him walk with a good pat.  I realize it wasn't what I asked for, and in his confusion he started guessing, but the different leads sure cracked me up.  He shook his head hard after the second canter I denied him, and I felt his tail swish hard.  *giggle*

*Riding the walk in warm-up, stretching my legs "dog & frog" on his back footfalls, and not the front.  I watched our shadow a little, and started to feel when the back legs move relative to the front legs.  Neat!

*Feeling for the collection, rather than looking for it, paying close attention to my seat and the little "rise" one side or the other. 

We're scheduled to lesson again this coming Saturday.  I'm anxious and ready to get at it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

1/4 & 5 / 2014

1/4, Saturday, in the afternoon, R came out to the arena to help with another short jump day for Harley.  I warmed him up pretty quickly, because I could feel his energy fading.  Knowing there wouldn't be much "horse go" left for a real ride, after the brief warm-up, I sent him down the line, pole, x, pole.  No problem. 

A few of those, then we turned it into pole, x, x.  Again, no problem.  A few more of those, and one more ground pole added at the end.  Harley was performing outstanding.  He was breathing hard, however, and so was I.  The weather had turned unseasonably warm, and filled with stuffy air.  I was having some trouble catching my breath.  So the total work was about 40 minutes, and while we didn't get as much done as I hoped, we got all good work accomplished.

1/5, Sunday, early morning, soon after the southern humid air was replaced with a nice chilly windy cool front, I took Harley to the arena for a dressage day.  I found his trot to be MUCH nicer than ever before.  I guess the jump work days, insisting on that big trot heading to the line, has increased his energy and upped my expectations on what I want from his trot.  The canter was just amazing.  He felt like a compact spring, short strides, and while it felt slow, it was "put together".  Just outstanding.  

He was stiff on bending, however, and it took quite a while to get the left-bend I'm aiming for.  Heading right, he was bent nicely, but started to lack energy, and needed some motivation.  I tapped him with the whip a few times, and he snapped back into shape. 

We concluded the work with some leg yields, and some shoulder-fore down the long sides.  One brief spook at the arena "fence tape" (of all stupid things) as it flapped in the wind, but otherwise he seemed focused on the job.  Anytime I got a step or two of shoulder-fore, I'd back off completely and send him straight a while.  There were some nice moments, and some terribly yucky ones, too. 

Monday (1/6) brought us a high temperature of 36, and a stiff wind.  I opted out of the rides yesterday (gee, I wonder why).   Today started out brisk and chilly, but the forecast says it'll be in the high 40s, low 50s by evening.  Maybe back in the tack tonight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

1.3.2014 Video

Things go so much better when the distances between jumps is set up correctly.  Harley and I had a great ride, here's just a few snapshots of the adventure.

Special thanks to Jennifer for helping out - otherwise, I'd be hopping off and on a LOT to set things up for us.  She added every rail, and as you see at the end, set back up what Harley knocked off. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

1.3.2014 How to Make it More Fun

MoJo has been on vacation, obviously.  I'm going to try and be more regular about his adventures this year.  I've got plenty of ideas, it's just making the time to take the pictures and post them with the stories. 

Here's just one of my awesome Christmas gifts - GoPro Hero 3+.  I'm ready for my jump ride today! I'm looking forward to sharing lots of videos with you this year - clips of me and Romeo, riding around the neighborhood.  I will do my best NOT to capture CRNG in his speedos, but I can't promise you anything.  I should be able to get Mo to the local park and ride him around there, video camera on.  I hope to capture a jump lesson at MsN's house.  Plenty more, including schooling and actual event show day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 - THE goal

Happy 2014 to all!!  Let's get this party started!

Since I started riding with N, Harley has progressed from trotting poles and trotting to ONE crossrail, all the way to jumping gymnastics.. I can't wait to get some video at a lesson so everybody can see how much progress we've made.  It's always amazing to me how fluid he is at his lessons.  When I get lots of energy heading to the jump line, he seems to be eager to get into it.  It makes me laugh when I see his ears prick up at them, "Really Mom?  Let's go!!"  Then the lightness in his canter heading away, both ears usually on me, "waiting for that praise" that he knows is coming, even in the quiet, "Good boy" verbal praise. 

So!  I have ONE big goal for 2014.  Sure, I'd like better dressage scores at Training Level.  Yeah, I think we'll graduate ourselves up to Prix Caprilli 2 at the schooling shows.  Those are little things. 

My big goal for 2014 is to compete Harley in a Green As Grass eventing competition.  I know, I know, peanuts..  little stuff for some of the others in blogger-land.  But I'm a rookie, Harley's quite green still, so there it is.

There's lots to learn, it seems.  I think I have the location picked out, but I don't know which date I'll choose.  I've already watched the video of the course a few times, and looked at all the cross country jump pictures a dozen times online.  No enthusiasm at all, can you tell??  I've shared my goal with MsN, who says entirely do-able goal.  How exciting is that?! 

I'll update those goals along the right side of the blog in the next few days, but I just couldn't wait to share with all the readers.  Do you have any experience with eventing?  Please share!  I'm excited, anxious, a bit nervous, but ready to get into the new year of training!