Monday, February 24, 2014

2.22.14 Lesson

Warmed up w.t.c, and a little dressage forward thinking.  Harley felt a little lazy under me, but obedient.  His transitions were a bit better than they've been, and other than not very well bent, we're doing well. need to keep working on exaggerating the bend in the warm up until he relaxes, ask and release, ask and release.    Canter down the long side was improved as well.  A little bit of "easing off the line", but not as much desire to break gait, either. 

Switched up the saddle, and rode ground poles through PC2.   All to get the pattern in my mind.  Then Ms N raised up both sides of the poles to about 18" high (I think).  Again, gosh, Harley was outstanding.  He rode everything like it was no big deal.  Super happy with that.  I was a little anxious/nervous/tense about the "circle at E to the jump at canter", because while the test says "large circle", and someone else may think that's a go-ahead to make it an oval, I rode a smaller circle (which is the only way to GET to the jump), and he took it perfectly.  Again, totally proud.

Right before the last jump, Ms N raised one side to 2'.  Harley acted like it was there, finally, with a good confident jump.  So she raised all of them to 2'.  Rather than ride the whole pattern of PC2, we only worked on the jumps. 

If I remember right, we trotted to one or two, without incident.    Then we cantered around to them, again, no incident.  He was waiting until the last second to jump, as evidenced by how it felt (canter, canter, canter, pause, push, jump), but he was over them all clean.  Not always pretty, but clean.

Ms N put a rail at the ground of one jump, and we hoped it would make him think a little ahead, and know when/where to plant his feet rather than right at the rail.  Epic Fail.  First try, he refused hard.  Ms N said that was because he was coming to it at the wrong stride, and not being sure if he should stick another stride in there, or reach hard, he stopped.  Easy enough.

I sent him to it again at canter.  Not pushing, I didn't tap him with the whip.   I just eased a little leg pressure on.  And jump he did.  Harley jumped it alright, plus another 2-2'6".  That makes for a 4'+ jump effort on his part, which launched me out of my saddle. 

We both landed with a thud, 3'+ away from it, and he took off at a hard gallop.  I tried to gain my balance, I tried to get sitting up tall again, then I saw the tree.  I was just starting to think "we need to turn, head out in to that grassy field over there, and he'll come back to me soon enough."  Instead, Harley turned sharp to the left, and I came off.

Not sure how I fell, but I can tell you where I landed.  Somewhere around the tree, near the pasture fence, and a combination of helmet, and shoulder.  The skidmark and bruise on my left upper arm says I either slid off the saddle, or hit the tree, and the pain in my face and right shoulder point to impact. 

I was checked on, Harley was caught, we both relaxed, and finished up the lesson at the walk. 

Take Home Homework:
Get a stirrup leather out , and get it around Harley's neck on jump day.  Positioned appropriately, that'll be my grab for those nervous moments, so I won't smack him in the face, or be pulled as far forward as I've started leaning.
Canter - to only small fences - little things if they're out by themselves.   On those canter-to's, start to count the stride before out loud "one, jump", then "two, one, jump", followed by obviously "three, two, one, jump".  Among other things, that will force me to breathe, and begin to count strides and see distances before a jump.
Trot - to all kinds of things.  Gymnastics with an X in front and another vertical or two - all good things.   Setting up the higher jumps inside a gymnastic line will "set the stride", getting Harley's rhythm all set, rather than him and me having to guess if we need more or less stride before. 
Work on the 18" verticals at trot and canter before the 3-8-14 PC test at the show.  {I've checked with the show team, and they say "no higher than 18".}

On the way home, R and I debated if I needed a dr check or not.  Not entirely sure if I crashed into the tree, or the fence, I recognized I needed a tetanus booster shot.  So off we went once back at home.  Xrays show slight separation between my right collar bone and shoulder.  But no broken bones, just a lot of banged-up bruising.  Today, I sport a small mark on my nose (helmet slid forward on impact, and whacked me pretty good), a HUGE bruise on my left arm, and a sore right shoulder. 

Time to replace the helmet, and back up some.  My courage outweighed my common sense Saturday.  Things were going so well, I really thought we could do it.  Harley over-reacted, and I wasn't ready to stick it.  I've got miles to go on improving my "legs fwd heels down" defensive position in the jump saddle.  MILES to go. 

Sure am blessed that I'm not more seriously hurt, and anxious to get back in the tack.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2/20/14 Starting Somewhere

Warmed Harley up on the side reins.  Since he'd been a butthead at the start of the ride earlier in the week, I figured a good workout would be best.  He was behaved.  He argued a little, but at least he didn't drop his head and invert his face. 

I hopped on.  I worked a bit on bend at the trot, and a little of canter.  He was better than I expected, so I pointed towards the one little X I had set up.  At the trot, he barely stepped over it.  *giggle*  That's what I expected.  He knocked it down once, so after I set it back up, I raised it up another hole.  Still little-bittie, approx. 12" in the middle. 

So I set him up on the circle at canter, and pointed him towards the X.  He didn't even really hesitate. He didn't over-jump it, but just kind of cantered over it. 

We repeated that about a half dozen times each direction.  One of his trips over it, he bumped the X with one of his back feet, and attempted to throw a little fit over it.  I was able to get him down to a trot fairly easily, but I had to fight to get his mind back on me and on the bend.  A while at the long trot on serpentines, and he was calmed again.  The first few trips each direction were a little different each trip.  There were a few that were short strides and a few that were big wide strides and reaches. 

Probably the more interesting was getting him to land on the correct lead for the turn after the jump, and keeping him in the canter down the next long side.  I also did some canter on the circle, then down a long side.  I've noticed his overall fitness is increasing, and he definitely can canter a bit longer, and can hold it together longer.

Things won't be terrific for the show coming in Training 2.  He'll keep the canter, I am expecting the correct leads, and staying in the leads, but there's still work to do keeping the bend.  Some days this is amazing, others it just isn't.  So the real plan will be to ride what I have that day, and warm him up on a LOT of bend.

Anxious for my ride again today to repeat all of the above.  My first action will be to raise that X up to something a little more realistic.  I used to need to ride light day before a lesson, to "keep gas in the tank".  Now, after the last few times I've taken a day or two off, the first ride back he's quite energetic.  Means we can ride hard today, and still have lots of horse-gas for tomorrow.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

2/18/14 ride and plans

2/18 Rode Harley jump saddle.  He was a wound up kid on the longeline, and when I hopped on to ride, he still felt a bit jitter.  I won't say bad, or naughty, but "up", and distracted. 

I took him to the first two jumps too early in the ride.  Obvious by his very enthusiastic run over and through them, followed by a little bit of a tear-gallop off from them.  He bucked a bit, and I managed to get him back under control.  But he was a dork.  I then went back to flat work a while, followed by a little more jumping, but when he started to jet before the first X, I gave him a nice half-halt, and he eased back.  The ride started horrid, but ended well. 

Going to try and stuff a dressage ride in tonight - but it's currently raining outside.  I'm hoping it quits soon, and creates a nice ride evening for us .

Scheduled a lesson for Saturday mid-day.  I'm about due one anyways, and while this is a little ahead of the normal schedule ... I've got the papers filled out to register for a schooling show March 8.

Training 2
Prix Caprilli 2.

PC2 looks to be a blast.  Lots of jumps , 2' max, lots of them down the diagonals, one on a circle from canter, another down diagonal from canter, and lots of trot jumps.  5 total attemps.  Should be interesting.  The lesson is to do a little prepare work for that test, and brush up on our dressage-skillz before we compete.

I won't have much progress to show, as the weather hasn't been too cooperative, but we've done a little jumping and a decent bit of dressage work. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Now Where Were we?

OH right.  That's where I left off.  The dogs all had a virus, it was wet and cold outside... Yeah.. That's it.

So since then:

I've found the "legs in front" position - it took two painful rides to stuff myself into that spot, but I found it.  Now, it seems incredibly secure, and makes a lot more sense to me.  I confirmed it in the dressage and jump saddles both.

Harley's had a couple of really good jump days.  Nothing spectacular, two X's, strides apart.  I had things measured out wrong, but he took through it like a champ.   All clean, good kid.  Tonight, I'm going to try again... Maybe pop that second up to a tiny vertical if things go my way.

Harley also has had some outstanding dressage days.  He isn't as fussy in either direction, and it seems that, if I prepare quietly, he transitions quietly.  If I sneak up on him in a gait change, his tail swishes angrily, and he launches into the changes. Some very nice leg yields at trot to the rail, and shoulder-ins down the long side. 

We've also explored riding outside the arena some more.  He got a good work Saturday, all at the walk, mostly all outside the arena through the trees.  I also got some sidepass over a pole for the first time, and it was pretty smooth.

Romeo had a few rides over the weekend.  Friday he longed out like a happy school kid, bucking and kicking.  I got his attention under saddle again with lots of bending wiggly lines at trot.  Sunday, I got brave.  I figure if Harley can jump, Mo can learn.  I pointed him at the big X, and as he stepped over it all but three times, I laughed.  I need to make it bigger, I suppose.  Force him to jump.  Stinker has learned how to step over only, and just won't put out the effort. 

The dogs are all feeling better.  Mostly.  Things there have calmed down, and I had a "bad weather foster" who's now a member of the family.  Fail!  He's a cute kid, and I'll introduce him soon enough.

Happy Riding everyone!  I am taking advantage of the warmer weather here in consideration of those of you freezing and buried in snow.

Friday, February 7, 2014

2.7.2014 update

I had some really nice rides last weekend on Harley.  I think I've found those "forward legs, heels down", and figured it out in both saddles.  My legs aren't really in front of me, but they feel it.  Things that will improve with time, I'm sure.

Then, life happened.  Holy crap did it ever (pun intended, you'll see why).

Charlie got a stomach bug - pooped a liquid river inside and outside of his crate.
A week or so later, Ivan, a dog I'm fostering, had the same problems - he made a mess of his freshly groomed self, his crate, the blankets in it, and the carpet.
This week, MacKenzie caught the germ.  Hers came complete with vomit.  Knowing she's already sensitive to life, I took her to the vet.  Medicine for her, and preventative on stock for Allie when her time comes.  Rotovirus, the vet says.  "Everybody in the house is going to get it."

And I forgot to mention, the cats have shared it as well.  For a day or two a piece, I've cleaned obnoxious mess from the litter boxes. 

As if sick dogs and cats weren't enough to add excitement to daily life.. Work happened.

Monday we prepared for an audit.  And I agreed to set up an extra instrument for production folks.
Tuesday, AND Wednesday, we were audited.  Dug into with a fine toothed comb, examined from bottom to top to bottom, leaving no stone unturned.
Thursday, as I recovered and reported out from the audit, I had two more meetings, and a sales rep visit.
And today, I take vacation.  I have some work to do from the house - computer things and some planning to do.  But at least it's 7:45am, and I'm in my pj's as opposed to dressed and sitting at my office desk.  I slept in, and I hope to for the next two more days. 

I hope to ride.  I'm not too determined, however.  It's cold out.  you bet yup I'm a wimp  It's cold.  There's frozen drizzle/sleet/ice/snow in the general area, and while I doubt it'll get to my house, it's close enough.