Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stages of Learning

One thing that's very interesting about riding a young horse is that they tend to change and develop so rapidly. With some of the new tools we have she's actually gotten a little harder to ride. Now that she's learning to move her haunches and shoulders around she's more wiggly and requires quite a bit more input from me to keep all of her parts int he right spot. She was tense when we started this evening which just exacerbated this. She was anticipating what I might ask and throwing all of her tricks my way. It wasn't at all naughty, just a little overachieving.

On the flip side, having new tools has made her way more fun to ride. I'm getting more precise control and able to give her more input than ever before. This is becoming especially true at the canter. In the last couple of weeks the canter has started to develop enough for me to influence it. I'm feeling really good about finally seeing some progress there. It seems like it's been a long time coming although I know it really hasn't been that bad.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Video: Clinic Day 2

Here's the video from the second day of our clinic if any of you wanted to watch it.

Our calendar is beginning to fill up. I just sent in an entry for a schooling show on March 19th and another JW clinic in May. We also have a tentative date for a March lesson with JW, along with a league show the first weekend in April. Emi's not going to know what hit her.

I'm getting ready to up her rides from 3 to 4 days per week. I've mainly been doing Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday but I think I'm going to start doing Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Sunday. I think she's ready for the increased work and I know it would be good if I could get her more fit. It's hard being a pony!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Video: Clinic Day 1

I finally had a chance to upload video from the first day of our clinic 2 weeks ago. It was helpful to re-watch it and I'm looking forward to utilizing the square turns on my next ride. I'm also happy to report that I think we have hit a turning point in our canter work. The transitions are finally making progress and so is the canter itself. Yah!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grazing Muzzle Advice

Emi is going to be out in a large pasture this spring and I do not plan to have her turn into an umpa-lumpa. Any grazing muzzle advice? She wore one a little bit the spring of her 2 year old year so it won't be entirely new to her but I want to get her a good one. Does anyone have a favorite grazing muzzle?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Saucy Sassy & So Fun

I had a great ride on Emi tonight and yet she was pretty sassy. I tried using a jumping bat as JW recommended trying it for use on her shoulder when she's trying to pop it out. It seemed to work well except for the fact that I had to take a hand off the reins to use it behind my leg. We had been working for a bit and she was being good, not tense or very looky. I asked for a canter and she didn't go. I asked again with a smack behind my leg to which she responded by broncing...1, 2, 3 as I'm gathering my reins back up and laughing. She didn't complete her bucks so it was a little more like dolphin leaping and not bad to ride.  She had a few more bucks in her as the ride progressed but nothing I couldn't handle. I told my friend, April, that I feel like I "own" her now. I'm riding her harder, pushing her more, and learning what she can handle. I'm also re-learning what I can handle. It's such a great feeling and it's like I'm finding the rider I used to be, which is partly because of my trust in Emi. What an awesome feeling. 

To top that off we had her best canter work tonight. I feel like we are nearing a breakthrough! We had some really decent canter transitions tonight, along with some progress in our nose to the wall trotting leg yields. I'm so pleased with how she feels and the progress she is making. She's one fun pony!

My darling girl
Saturday we had the saddle fitter out for an adjustment. She added some flocking to the front of the saddle and it feels even better now than it did. After making the adjustments I took Emi over to the arena to try our saddle out. The fitter followed about 20 minutes later as she was adjusting another saddle. She commented that the last time she had been out Emi was on the lunge line! I think she was impressed with her progress and commented that she was really forward and a really good pony. 

Saddle fitting round one with my green bean
And, as of tonight she's shedding. Spring is coming!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Right Tools

This winter has been a little bit of a struggle for me as Emi has been on the tense side. I feel like it has been harder to work her through it due to the fact that I don't yet know what she is capable of and also because I haven't felt like I have a lot of tools. Since she doesn't know all that much it's not as easy to just "put her to work."

In the last month or so I realized that I need to quit worrying about what she might do and ride her as if she's trained. Wouldn't you know that has made a world of difference! I hopped on her for our ride tonight and she was yet again tense. I'm not sure what it is about our arena but she's really not a big fan. I was able to put our new exercises and clinic tools to work and it was so helpful. Now that she's becoming more trained there are so many more things to work on and I love it!

We capitalized on the nervous tension but working on that nice forward engine. We had some of our best canter transitions and even a few moments where I felt able to influence the canter. We practiced bringing her shoulders around with a slight counter bend and that went really well. I think we are both getting the hang of it. In addition, we worked on those nose to the wall leg yields at the trot and got some much better attempts at them than we did in our lesson on Saturday. At the end of the ride she was trotting forward with a nice swinging trot and was the most stretchy she has ever felt. It's so nice to be at a stage where the progress can really be felt.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Clinic Day 2

Saturday we headed back down for our second day of clinic. Not surprisingly, Emi was on the tired side. We started our ride with some of the shoulders falling in from the previous day and then moved right on in to the canter work before she got too tired. The canter was harder than on Friday as I just didn't have as much pony. We did practice more transitions (using the diagonal exercise). We then moved on to my favorite portion of the lesson. We did more trot work, but this was focused on forehand turns and ultimately leg yielding at the trot, nose to the wall. We didn't actually get the final piece in place but we started on it and that's my homework now.

She's great at doing a leg yield nose to the wall (at the walk) but the trot was a new area. We set it up by doing some forehand turns and then trotting off. Not only was this a nice exercise to get her moving off my leg but the transitions really began to sharpen her up as well. Towards the end of this time she was carrying herself better and better, and was trotting off promptly and forward. The leg yield at the trot with her nose to the wall was difficult and we only got a couple small steps each direction. When I struggled to get it, we'd bring her back to the walk and re-establish it at the walk before going back to the trot and trying it again. I'm looking forward to practicing that more because I think she's will be good at it once she figures it out. 

Once our lesson was over we had two barn mates to watch (and video). The clinic location doesn't have any stabling available and it was pouring down rain so not a nice day to tie to the trailer. Emi stood 2-3 feet from me, by the tripod, while I video for almost an hour and a half. She snoozed most of the time. At one point, a fellow clinic participant came over to cuddle with Emi and said she was in love with her.

As with the last clinic, I still feel like we are on the right track. She's making progress and I'm making progress. My personal take aways are that I need to focus this next month on being able to move her body around more. I need to expect her to be more prompt about her canter departs and I need to follow through better regarding her response to my leg. I sometimes get sucked in to nagging! I'll share clinic video once I have a chance to upload it.

My video assistant. Being a big kid is hard work!