Sadly, I don't seem to have that much luck in the tail department. Thoroughbreds don't seem overly blessed in the nice tail department. Rhythm's needed a makeover before his dressage debut in 2 weeks. I washed it today before my ride and Mary helped us out by clipping up the sides and banging it. It's looks a lot better, and at the very least it looks like we put in some effort.
I read a blog post today by that I can totally relate too (read here). It reminds me so much of my situation with Roxy and some of the feelings that I had. I still wish that things could have turned out differently with Roxanne and I feel responsible for the problems that we had. There are always so many "what ifs." What if I had noticed her saddle fit sooner, what if I had been a little more fearless, what if I had turned her over to a professional. I don't regret moving on but I do think of what might have been. I came across this picture over the weekend of my first bareback ride on her. It was probably taken a month or so after I got her, and she was 2 months off the track at that time. I'm seem to remember some peer pressure from a certain Tarra Gakstatter who told me I should get on her bareback....
In the end, I ride for pleasure, and if it's just not fun because I'm worried about what my horse is going to do next, or getting hurt, or fighting the next battle then it's not worth it. I want to enjoy and trust the horse that I am riding. It was definitely a hard decision and a very sad day when I said goodbye to Miss Rox, but in the end I believe it was the right decision for me. I will never regret rescuing her from the feedlot or the time we spent together. She taught me a lot and brought me in contact with a lot of people that I may never have me with out her. We certainly wouldn't have ever had Pants if not for her (and her wild antics).
I rode Mr Roz today and realized one of our biggest problems is obedience/submission. The more time I spend on a horse with real training the more I see the holes that Roz has. I know I am totally to blame for that and am putting the time in now to try to fix those problem areas. I have learned so much in the almost 6 years I have had Roz and most of what I have learned has been in the last couple of years when I have been riding him a lot less. If I had known then, when I know now, I think he could have been a nice little dressage horse.
I normally ride him on Saturday and Sunday. With the days getting longer my goal is to add Monday and Friday to my regular Roz days. This will get him back to working 6 days a week and will hopefully give him enough consistency to start making progress. The other two days a week he is ridden by a 12 year old, who is a good rider but doesn't demand very much from him. Of course, he isn't going to work any harder than he needs too, so he puts in the minimum effort. He was not easy to start tonight but by the time I was finished he was working a lot better.
It was a lesson Thursday for us. Rhythm is coming right along. He is really becoming so fun to ride! Our first level work is pretty solid at this point....so now I just need to ask for more of everything so that we can continue on to second level. I tend to be on the nice side with my horses, not always asking enough from them. I have gotten better (I think) but need to continue to expect more, especially once my warm up is complete. I also need to be really conscious of where I am sitting and where my legs are. There's always something! We got our best trot lengthenings ever tonight. Mary rode him on Monday and worked on him being more obedient in the bridle through his lengthenings. They were so much easier to ride tonight and by the end he was really reaching in to them. We worked a lot on transitions with in and between gaits. The key being the word transition rather than an abrupt change between gaits. One thing we added tonight was using my breathing to aid in the half halt. I was supposed to exhale for a half halt as that tightens up your stomach muscles. It definitely worked and I could feel his gaits changing as we used it. We got traver both directions at the trot tonight. We also started practicing walk to canter transitions. 3 weeks until our first show! Overall it was a really solid lesson, with some things that need continued improvement and elements that are finally coming together.
I got to see Roxanne today! She was at my work being checked prior to breeding. It was so fun to visit with her. Her mane is longer, her tail is shorter and she grew a fuzzy winter coat. :) I raided the fridge last night and brought her an apple and carrot. She was happy to eat her treats and be loved on. She might be back next week so hopefully I can visit with her again. She is getting ready to be bred to an appaloosa stallion for an appy sport horse foal. It should be adorable; I hope it has spots!
I had a great ride on Rhythm tonight. We got our best trot/canter transitions ever today. His canter is getting so much better. I'm really looking forward to my lesson Thursday night. We only have 2 more until our first show.
Well...practice may not make "perfect" but it should make things better! I had a very good ride on Rhythm tonight and also got to ride with Tarra and Mystic for the first time in almost 2 weeks. It's always more fun when my partner in crime is out there too! I looked over First level test 2 and I like it better than test 1. It seems to flow better and make more sense in my mind. I asked Tarra to video my initial run through tonight just to see how it looks. We definitely have room for improvement but it wasn't bad. Riding in a test really requires me to stay a step ahead as the movements seem to come a lot faster than when I am just schooling on my own. Our leg yields were not as good as they can be and I missed a canter lead. I also think I need to ask more especially in our canter lengthenings. I'm a little bit hesitant because I need to be able to bring him back in the corner and it doesn't feel like I have a lot of room to do that. I also made a mistake at the end of the test and went to the wrong side of the arena to do my half circle to the leg yield so I ended up coming down the center line the wrong direction in the end. Oh well. That's why it was practice. I get to ride Rhythm the next two days so it will be nice to continue our work.
I had an interesting ride on Rhythm last night. In many ways we improved upon the stuff we did in my lesson on Thursday but, he was really spooky which made the ride more difficult. I focused on doing the little things well, such as: riding into my corners, demanding nice transitions and incorporating a lot of transitions into our work. Using more seat and less hand in the transition is making a huge difference! I have been doing a little bit of practice riding down the center line to halt and salute. Previously he would swing his haunches (mainly right) when I asked for a halt. By using my seat he stays much straighter and our transition is much nicer. We continued to work on being able to maneuver him around at the canter, using counter flexion and getting him nice and straight. The very shallow counter canter loop is getting easier and I felt like I had more control over how he was positioned. I ran through first level test 1 and realized that I am going to have to ride very well. Rhythm knows how to do everything but doesn't volunteer his knowledge. Not that I truly expect him to do the work with out my direction but if I let something slide for a moment he takes full advantage. I'm not really used to riding a horse that makes me work that hard! Roz isn't an easy ride but even when he isn't being super good he looks okay. Overall it's good for me, I know it is, but it's definitely very hard work. I have been throwing in walk to canter transitions every once in a while with Rhythm and he gave me the best one yet last night! We will keep working hard and hopefully our first show will go well.
After snow, and extreme rain and flooding, we finally have some gorgeous sunny weather here in Oregon. It was a crisp cool morning as I tacked Roz up and set off for the arena. He was wired and pranced his way up the driveway and along the road. I decided to walk him in the forest as a warm up before going to the arena. He was marching happily along at this point and when I turned him for home (after about 10 minutes) he slowed way down....okay, apparently he wants to really go on a trail ride. I turned him back up the trail and off we went. We are lucky enough to have beautiful forest trails to ride on through out the year. I used to take Roz up there all the time when I was eventing him as I used it for conditioning. Today was much more of a relaxing outing together. The sun was peeking through the trees, his hoofs rhythmically clopping on the trail, and the birds were singing. It's hard to beat that kind of morning with an old friend. Our trail ended up leading to a dead end. On our way back I noticed a sign that said the trees were planted in 1992. That was the year Roz was born so I turned him around to take a photo with the sign.
We ran in to several people on our way back who all remarked over the horse. The first lady was hiking with her dog talking on her cell phone. I had stopped Roz because I heard her talking and they were going to cut across our trail at any moment. She came out of the trees and didn't even see us. Suddenly she looked up and put her cell phone down apologizing for not paying attention. As soon as got of the road she went back to her conversation saying she had just ran in to a horse, "well it had a rider!" It made me laugh. The next person I ran in to was asking me how my "horsey" was and that he was beautiful. Umm...okay. Next up was a woman with two dogs who said that "he or she seems very calm." Why, yes, he is a very calm horse. It made me think about what a novel thing horses really are to a lot of people. They seem so common to me but a lot of people don't know much about horses.
Nearing Roz's house on our walk back
Once we got back to the barn I decided to let Roz go out naked today. If I was a horse I think it would be wonderful to get a day where I didn't have to wear a blanket. Of course he immediatly went outside to roll.
With that taken care of he was ready to go out in the field
Such a photogenic pony
And this is how I left him, peacfully eating from his hay pile. I'm not sure you could find a happier horse.
And the lambs outside enjoying the sun. Aren't they adorable?
Rhythm is getting back in shape and we are plugging right along. Our first horse show is going to be March 10th. We are planning to debut and 1st level which should be pretty doable. We had a lesson tonight and worked on several things from our first level test along with some 2nd level movements. I need to work to solidify some of the "easier" stuff such as nailing our transitions. I'm guess sing that Rhythm will be fairly looky at the show since he hasn't been taken out much and tends to be a bit spooky anyway. Hopefully I can keep him tuned in enough to put in a good test. We are certainly capable of the work, I just need to be able to put it all together. Tonight our main focus was getting him in front of my leg, relaxed through his back and soft in the bridle. He is not an easy horse to ride and resorts to dragging his rider around with the bit. This makes it very tempting to yard back on him when he is doing that. Instead, I need to work to ride him from my seat and legs with a giving hand to encourage him to seek and elastic contact.
We began working on straightening him out in the canter and being able to maneuver him around in a shallow loop. This is the start of counter canter and is something we will be doing in our first level test. Once we move up to second level we have to be able to do a 3 loop serpentine at the canter with the middle loop being counter canter. Our trot lengthenings have definitely lost some ground over the past couple months but that's mainly due to the fact the Rhythm was hurt and I have not been pushing them. They improved quite a bit from the start of the lesson to the end.
His traver is getting much better and we got a few steps of half pass tonight! My troubles getting it tracking left are just that, my troubles. You can see in the video (and I can feel) that I just get left behind and am sitting out to the right instead of to the left. Once I was able to pull myself together we got it. He has made huge progress with that in the past month and it's been neat see that improved every ride.