Monday, May 21, 2018

Clinic Day 1 - Don't Settle

Emi and I got to see Auntie J on Saturday! It's been a couple of months since our last trip up to her and I was looking forward to seeing her. The theme of our lesson was pretty much that I'm settling for too little and that "our" problems are "my" problems. Luckily I'm way past the days of that sort of thing bothering me and I know it's true that I need to ride better...I'm working on it!

We spent a lot of the lesson addressing the crookedness that has developed in the last couple of months when tracking left. It's not present every step but when we get stuck in it I have trouble straightening things back out. It feels like a combination of her falling out her right shoulder and falling in with her left haunches. JW said that her rib cage is against my left leg and we set about addressing the problem. We worked at the walk for a while, riding shoulder in and being sure to catch her with my right leg so she didn't fall to the outside. There were a lot of pieces to keep track of and it got better as we went along. We also worked on a circle, thinking turn on the haunch and bringing her shoulders around. Once we moved up to the trot we did some leg yields to get her working off my leg. The good ones rode like big kid leg yields. Woohoo!



After spending some time addressing the crookedness issues we moved on to the canter. Wouldn't you know we displayed our new found ability to do a reasonable canter depart. Hooray! Since our show a couple of weeks ago I've really been working on them. That's not to say I hadn't really been working on them before but I've been making a concentrated effort to ride them thoughtfully, setting her up well and asking her to go like a big kid. It only took us two years (she just passed the two years under saddle mark) but seemingly overnight, we've found a reasonable canter transition.

I was hopeful that we could demonstrate it in our lesson and we did! I think JW was pleasantly surprised when we cantered off. We did some leg yields at the canter, asking her to load that inside hind more and we are to continue practicing that. We didn't do a lot of canter as it tires her out pretty quickly, but we did do a few transitions each way and all were decent...or really quite good for where we've come from.



Once we moved back to the trot we approached the crookedness issue a different way. We established a lot of bend to the inside while using lots of inside leg, and then suppling her on the outside rein with out losing the bend. We had some beautiful trot moments!



I watched the video after my lesson on Saturday evening and I was really pleased with what I saw. Yes, I need to stay more on top of things but Emi's looking great. Her general attitude and willingness to work have really turned around these past couple of months and I'm starting to feel like I'm riding a grown up horse. It's amazing to be at the point where we are starting to do grown up work and I'm delighted with where we are at right now.


All photos are courtesy of Emi's breeder - Cindy Miller. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Exploring

I'm super fortunate with where I live as there are many trail options. I haven't explored too many of them since the prior two barns I boarded at had trail access with in riding distance. Now that I don't have that luxury it's been fun to start looking for new trails to haul to. There are several different areas with in 20-30 minutes of my house so it really does make it easy. 

This morning Emi and I set out to explore the other side of the trail we rode a couple of weeks ago. This was a location that I hadn't been to before so I wasn't sure how the parking would be. It turns out that the parking was challenging. We arrived at the trail head before 9 so it was fairly empty. I struggled a little bit with turning around in a small area but did get it. I parked heading out and tacked Emi up pretty quickly as I had already groomed her and put her hoof boots on at home.


The trails were lovely and Emi was awesome. We did more trotting than normal and she powered right along. I can tell that her fitness is improving and enjoy the extra spark that being out on the trail gives her. We encountered several people along the way, especially the closer we got to the section of the trail I had ridden last time. Emi was good about everyone and got many compliments on being cute, being dressed fancy, and wearing a tiara (possibly her fly bonnet that has bling, I'm not sure). At one point we passed a group of 12 or so people on a narrow trail and about half way through the group she attempted to stop to chat with someone. She's so social!





Emi was huffing and puffing when we arrived back at the trail head and we stopped to let some kids pet her. She loves kids and it's always fun to watch her interact with them. Of course there were more compliments for the cute pony and after I told one of the little ones that her name was Emi he was telling everyone. So cute!


My trailer was blocked in (from behind) as the parking had really filled up in the almost 2 hours we had been riding. It left me in a bit of a pickle because I was there by myself and there wasn't any place I could tie Emi while I moved the truck forward. I seriously considered tying her to the trailer and pulling forward very slowly. She probably would have been okay, especially since she was tired. I ended up rolling the truck window down and holding her out the window as I moved forward. She was thoroughly confused but she went along with it. I'm so glad I had turned around when I arrived otherwise I think it would have been pretty easy to get really stuck. 


What in the world are we doing!? 
 Two thumbs up for the trails and a thumbs down on the parking. I'm going to scope out another access point to these trails before I take Emi again. If there isn't anything better I'll know that this is definitely one to arrive at early and also might be a good rainy day trail. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Throwback Thursday (Before & After Edition)

This is sort of a fun throwback but also comparisons. The indoor photos were taken in March of 2017 and the other photos are from April 2018. The new photos are two of my new favorite photos. It's amazing how slow progress can seem on a day to day basis but the changes over time can be quite amazing.



Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Trust

Emi and I had one of our scariest moments together on Saturday night. I was getting ready to wash her tail as it had gotten trashed at our show the previous weekend.


I pulled her out, tied her to the trailer with her hay bag and got ready to start. As I was grabbing a couple of things I had the thought that her rope was a tad long, and she was putting her head down to try to grab a bite of grass by the trailer. The next thing I know she goes to pull her head up and it's stuck on the trailer. As soon as it registered she was stuck she started pulling back (which she has never even attempted when tied). My nephews were with me (they are 4 & 5) and the 4 year old could see that something was wrong and had come over to stand directly behind Emi, although a little ways back. All I could see was Emi breaking loose and mowing him over if she went running backwards. Yikes! I hollered at him and he immediately moved. 

I sent the 5 year old for scissors in the barn, in case I needed to cut her loose. Thankfully after a quick moment of pulling back she stood. I went over to her and began petting her neck and looking to see how she was caught and what I needed to do to free her. I untied her rope but the issue wasn't with the rope itself but the snap of the rope, which had gotten caught on the metal fender of the trailer. At this point I'm expecting her to start thrashing again but I'm still talking to her and petting her. I tried removing her halter but she still had a lot of tension on it and I couldn't get enough slack to unbuckle it. I was finally able to get enough slack between the chin of her halter and the snap and was able to get it loose from the metal is was lodged in. 

Once freed she was a little tense but didn't seem any worse for the wear. I walked her around a bit before tying her back to the trailer (a little shorter this time) to get that tail washed. I was really pleased with Emi's response to a scary situation. I've had more than one horse that would have pulled until something gave way. The fact that she settled and trusted me, especially given how trapped she must have felt...it was a proud moment for sure (after my heart finally slowed down). Yay for sensible ponies and happy endings. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Beach Time

Emi and I, along with Tarra and Mystic, had a fun afternoon at the beach today. The ponies are both solid and the weather was decent. Not too hot, not too cold and not too windy (or really windy at all). We made our way down the beach, dodged a group of kites and some other horses and riders. We enjoyed some time trotting and canter down the beach. Emi is inclined to power trot rather than canter so Tarra pushed Mystic out and she had to canter to keep up. That was fun and we hope to get back to the beach with Tarra's TB to really push Emi. Every time she's been to the beach it's been with a horse that goes her speed (or less) so I'm looking forward to getting her in more of a "race" situation where she has a sense of urgency.
My favorite view. 
She's so good about the waves, probably the best horse I've ever had in the ocean. 
On the way back towards the trailer Emi was getting a little too velcro like with Mystic. We had been walking through the water and I asked to trot. As she got next to him she threw herself against my leg. Umm...that's not the correct answer. I let Mystic get passed us since she was being bucky at my leg and I didn't want him to get hit. A few swats later we trotted back up by Mystic where she went right back to throwing herself against the leg I was asking her to get off of. A few more smacks and she was bucking pretty aggressively (in place). I asked Tarra to stop Mystic and let us get passed him so that we could discuss further with out having to worry about getting him. I'd trot Emi around in a circle and as we'd come back up by Mystic she'd give me the same answer. She was quite mad about the whole thing. We had several go rounds about this but she finally gave it up, put her ears forward and powered passed him like she'd never had a problem. She got lots of praise and a loose rein back to the trailer.


Overall I feel like she's been testing me a lot less lately, so if we still need to go around now and then I can handle that. Especially since she did get over it and behave the way she is supposed to... so many opinions in one pony body!

Isn't she cute? 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Giveaway Winners and Other Random Updates

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Roeckl glove giveaway! The winners were Elizabeth and Sarah.

For those of you that don't follow me on Instagram, Liam got his teeth done last Friday. I took advantage of having him at the vet's office and weighed him. He's 275lbs. I had guessed 300-350 so he was a little bit lighter than I expected but not too much. Now I wonder what he weighed before we started operation donkey weight loss. He continues to be great about wearing his muzzle. I put a cookie in it before I put it on him so when he sees me coming with it he seeks it out. It makes it a positive experience for all.


To follow up on my trail ride pictures, Tuesday I hauled Emi out to a new trail location (I've been hiking there a couple of times but never riding). I looked at the trail map before going and enjoyed exploring some trails I had never been on. Some of them were much nicer than I expected. The only real downside to this location is that it's close to town so it sees A LOT of traffic. Bikers, hikers, runners and lots of dogs. As I was riding Emi out from the trail head I was thinking about one of her first trails rides at a similarly busy location. She was nervous about everyone we passed on that day. On Tuesday she was a rockstar about everyone and everything beside one scary rock. Yes, a rock. She took major offense to it and actually spun and cantered off. I don't think she's ever done that before. I was able to "off road" around the rock and we continued on down the trail. She passed over several wooden bridges and barely gave them a second glance. We had a great time going up a steep switchback trail with a drop off on one side and then came around the corner to find a runner coming down. He told me there was a dog coming behind him and when it caught up he picked it up (a good size dog), turned sideways and inched passed us on the trail. Emi couldn't have cared less!

We did meet up with another horse on our way back and she gave me a sassy head toss for making her continue towards home rather than getting to go with the other horse. I actually thought that was a  pretty decent response. We also got chased by two dogs. Luckily I heard them running up behind us as we trotted along. I turned Emi towards them and jumped off. One turned back right away but the second dog made another pass at us. So naughty! Emi was unfazed and as soon as the dog was contained I hopped back on to finish our ride. We covered a little over 5 miles and had a marvelous time. There's another location further from town that ends up meeting up with the trails I was on so I want to scope that out next.