Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Plugging Along

In the riveting world of baby breaking, tonight was ride #5. Before I tell you about the ride, let me say that Emi has been quiet in her stall the past two days that I've tacked her up. She's has rested a hoof and chilled the whole time I'm getting her ready. This is a significant improvement and hopefully not just a fluke.

In terms of riding, Emi was a good girl and we worked more on turning and transitions. Who knew you could start perfecting transitions on ride number 5?! Realistically we are not perfecting them as much as installing good basics.Emi was stalling out every time we went from the trot to the walk. We did a few quick trot, walk, trot transitions before KB told me to be sure to swing my hips side to side going into the walk. Wouldn't you know the rest of the transitions that I rode that way I could feel myself ride her right into an active walk! That was really neat. We also worked on her going when asked and I used a dressage whip to tap her lightly for a prompt response. Of course there is a lot of praise each time a job is done right and our best trot/walk transition was the perfect note to end on.

One of my current favorite quotes is this:

A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but its persistence.  - Jim Watkins

Not only is that true in horse training, but it's true in life. We just have to keep doing the work and slowly but surely we will see progress.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Exceeding Expectations

I've never started a horse before. I've had several thoroughbreds straight off the track. Although they may lack the training for what I want to do with them they are generally pretty broke. It's been fascinating to climb on to a truly unbroken horse and start teaching it about riding.

I put my third ride in on Emi on Sunday afternoon. We had a scoot/spook with in the first few minutes, while we were still not the lunge line. With the assistance of our ground person, April, we got stopped. We continued on like nothing happened and neither of us were worse for the wear. Later in our ride, when I was off the line, she spooked again but it was pretty much an in-place spook and it was totally legit as a dog came running around the open end of the arena right as we went by.

It's remarkable how quickly riding her is improving. I'm feeling more accustomed to her way of going and she's also quickly learning that the leg means something. I love how solid she already is, not overly sensitive or ticklish. I think she is going to develop into a lovely sport pony and can't wait to see the progress she will make over the next weeks and months.

Today we went for a trail walk that turned in to a bit of a trail ride. I didn't ride her too long but she was fabulous.  I was so proud of her. I put her in the ditch and mounted from the ground. She walked forward nicely and was generally well behaved. Our trail partners were having a bit of a meltdown so I ended up hopping off after about 1/2 a mile. Regardless I'm calling ride number 4 a success. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016


Roz got access to a new field on Saturday and he was thrilled! He's doing great being alone and I'm happy to see him looking so good. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ride #2

Miss Em had her second ride last night and she was great! We were given more freedom while on the lunge line and KB gave me a dressage whip to help me communicate "go" to her. She told me to tickle Emi with the whip but I ended up having to tap her a bit harder to get her going. After walking and trotting on the line KB let us free. We proceeded to walk and trot off the line along with some actual steering. It was so fun!

It's definitely going to be a learning curve finding my balance on her. She's (obviously) hard to predict since she is hardly broke. I'm trying to communicate clearly with her while staying out of the way...and it's hard! I worry that it's also a little bit harder because she's small. I just keep thinking "grow baby grow!"I plan to start riding her about 2 days a week with 1-2 days of lunging/long lining. I'm going to keep a ground person, at least a few more rides. After that I'm hoping to hit the trails.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Day two (you can read about day 1 here) brought another lesson, this time on a mare trained through Prix St. George. Let me tell you, I love riding these well schooled horses. The focus of the day was on lateral work which was exactly what I woke up talking about. As we warmed up JW talked about my position and keeping my shoulders back and clunking them down into my core. As I shifted my position slightly the trot changed into this lovely floating gait. We schooled travers, renvers and half pass before moving on to some canter work.

After a walk break JW asked what I wanted to go back to and I said half pass. We schooled renvers down the long side, staying in renvers while turning onto the centerline and half passing to the wall. I was overriding my outside aids and leading with the haunches. A few tries later we got sorted out and had a few good ones. We then rode a three loop serpentine starting in renvers for the first loop which turned in to travers for the second loop, back to renvers and then a turn onto the centerline, half pass to the wall. I was finally coordinating my inside and outside aids, sitting up tall and looked like a dressage rider. How cool is that!? It was a fabulous opportunity to practice those things and I felt really good about where we ended up. JW even commented that it's too bad I have a real job...because I could stay for a while. The current plan is to go back in the fall with Emi and stay for 4 days or so as a sort of "boot camp."

When we were finished I had the chance to ride another horse, Patrick (the horse I took my third lesson on last time). I was riding on my own and I rode him so much better than the first time! It was a great ending to a wonderful two days. I now feel like I'm on a riding lesson "high" and am inspired to keep working at it.

Also, for those of you that are interested, here's the condensed version of my Cardi lesson.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Most AMAZING Celebrity Encounter

I have had some pretty cool celebrity encounters. 

The most remarkable of these used to be getting to meet Carrie Underwood.

But Thursday.........

She was upstaged. 

By a lesson, on North Forks Cardi!

Jessica had mentioned that possibility when we were last up there (in January) and then my friend, April, gave me a card for my birthday that was good for a lesson on Cardi. Talk about a dream come true! On our way up there April and Melissa asked if I was nervous. I told them no, but it felt so surreal, like we were going to arrive and Jessica was going to say just kidding.  

Of course there was no "just kidding" and I did get to have a lesson on him. It was amazing! Cardi is so kind and was lovely to ride. There was definitely a big learning curve to understanding how to ride him but I improved as we went along. The power that he has and the ability to collect that power rather than just letting it go out the front was really amazing. I got to experience my first ever piaffe and passage! JW was wonderful and told me to not be worried about upsetting him or messing him up. 

We did a lot of flying changes, some intentional and many that were not (although all of them were quite effortless). Cantering to the right he kept changing leads to the left. I'd change him back to the right and he'd change back to the left. I asked what I was doing wrong and JW said that I was not supporting him with my outside leg. We get so focused on the inside leg to outside rein that we forget that the outside leg has a function as well. Near the end I was cantering him to the right and JW told me to change him to the left lead and hold him there. I'd change him left and he'd change immediately right, right-left, right-left. We did this for a couple of laps but I was getting closer. Finally JW told me to hold his haunches to the wall with my left leg. Ta da, total light bulb moment and we counter cantered through the short side before I brought him back to trot. It's so impressive when you consider how spot on these riders have to be to successfully complete a Grand Prix test with out significant errors!

I'm working on uploading video and will share some of that with you when it's done. In the meantime, if you need me...I'm on cloud 9. 

Bonus, at the end she laid him down...I may have fallen off when that happened. In my defense I wasn't expecting it and didn't get my left leg down in time as I thought she was just having him bow. 

Major loves for this magnificent and generous animal. It was a true honor to have the opportunity to ride him and it's something I'll never forget. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Full Circle

We had our 10th lesson tonight and it included Emi's first ride!!! True to form, she was not disturbed by the turn of events. She was definitely fairly clueless as to what in the world we were doing but she didn't think to do anything naughty. I have to say I love this horse so much. She has been so easy! I know part of that is her breeding but I'd like to think that part of it is our relationship. I know on my end she seems really easy because I trust her a lot.

KB gets after me, usually once per lesson, about something that I'm not doing in the safest manner. Of course my first response is always that Emi's not going to do anything. Now I know any horse can do anything but realistically I trust Emi quite a bit and don't expect a crazy reaction from her about things. 

I lunged her for a few minutes before our lesson and when KB arrived we long lined before I climb aboard. My dad came up to watch our maiden voyage as did my friend Chantelle. They were joined by the other two members of the half-arab club, April and Melissa. It was fun to have them share in such an exciting moment. 

It's amazing to look back at where we started and to see this come a full circle. 

It crazy to think it all started with the dream of a girl receiving chemo to own a "Cardi baby."

To the little bay filly she met at 3 days old.

To a mostly grown up bay mare. 

Pinch me...I must be dreaming. I smiled from ear to ear my whole 10 minute ride. It was amazing! 

For those of you interested in the three minute version of our first ride.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Video Check In

Here's our video check in for May. Long lining session #3 yesterday evening.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Another Layer

We added another layer to Emi's training tonight. In case you are keeping tracking we started with:

  • Learning to lunge in a halter
  • Added the saddle
  • Added the bridle
  • Added cantering
  • Added the lunge line connected to the bridle
  • Added side reins
  • Added cantering in the side reins
  • Long lined

Our lesson for today (lesson #9) involved long lining Emi. We had touched on it last week and had long lined her for a few minutes but it was mainly lunging her off the inside line and letting her become accustomed to the outside line. Tonight we long lined for "real" with actual steering involved and using the outside rein for down transitions. I was first steering her in a diamond pattern but then started taking her straight down the rail. We also cantered on the long lines and that went well.  Emi responded calmly to the new layer and it was so fun. I loved it! KB commented that she could tell I had done it before...which is true. Almost 10 years ago I learned to long line with Rozzy Ridge. Yet another thing that good old boy taught me. 

I'm having a blast being able to start Emi myself and so far I'm glad I chose to do it this way.  It's been great for me to be able to do the training with weekly help and guidance by KB. I had gone back and forth in the almost three years that I've had her. Start her myself, send her away, start her myself, send her way. Sort of like "he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not." The tough decisions in life! I finally decided I'd start out doing it myself with weekly lessons and if things were not going well or I felt in over my head I'd find someone to send her to. If things continue to progress like they have I think we'll be in good shape for me to finish the job. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ex-Stress Review

Emi has been on ex-stress for two or three weeks and I'm seeing a difference! This past week she has been quite calm every day that I've worked with her. She's been settled standing tied in her stall regardless of the time of day I've been out. The first day I wasn't sure if it was just a fluke but the trend has continued. To be fair, I have not been tacking her up while horses are being brought in, which I know bothers her. It's also possible that she's just settling in since she's been at the barn for 2 months now. Either way, I'll take it and I really do think that the ex-stress is at least partially responsible for how much more calm she seems. Yah!

And in case you don't follow Emi's Facebook page (and since no post is complete with out pictures)...here's the baby girl working on Saturday night.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

That Moment

I had one of those moments tonight. You know the kind...when you see something bad happening before your eyes and by the time you realize it there's nothing you can do but watch it unfold and hope it ends well.

I was lunging Emi lightly before our lesson when I had a clumsy moment with the lunge line, timed perfectly with Emi pulling on it. One moment I had her...the next I had nothing. She proceeded to canter (tensely) around our previous circle with the lunge line dragging along behind her. Of course she was also wearing side reins. I stood in the middle trying to be calm and also praying she wouldn't hurt herself. She cantered 10 or so laps before breaking to a trot and finally halting. I'd been talking calmly to her the whole time, "Emi whoa, Emi whoa, you're okay." Once she stopped I gathered up the lunge line, pulled the side reins and walked her for a few laps before putting the side reins back on and sending her back out on the circle. You could see she was worried for the first couple of laps but she quickly settled in and went back to work as if nothing happened.

This was about 2 minutes before the start of our lesson and she definitely had my heart racing. As it was our lesson was great. We added cantering with the side reins, which we hadn't done prior to her getting loose. I also long lined her for the last 5 or so minutes. We plan to focus on that for our lesson next Tuesday. Once again I'm so pleased with her good brain and very happy that horses are so forgiving. I felt horrible for scaring her but I'm glad everything turned out alright. She got a couple extra treats and was happily tucked in her stall when I left her for the night.

One of the best girls around

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Your Rolex Tips & Tricks

I've never been to Rolex (Oregon as not as close to Rolex as many of you) and plan to attend next year. What information can you share? The best seats? What's worth extra money? What's not? What other things should we do in that area?

The live stream was fun but real life will be awesome!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Continued Progress

I've had a great week with Miss Em. Thursday was a lesson night and we introduced lunging with both side reins. Although she wasn't so sure she could go forward wearing two side reins she was well behaved and didn't break out over the new pressure. I love that (so far) she's very accepting of pressure. It makes life so much easier!!!

Saturday we changed it up and went out on a trail walk. She was super and I think the transition to me riding her on the trails should be quite easy.

She's better to walk than my dog!
Today we went back to arena work with some more lunging. She was fabulous! Her canter transitions are improving a lot and the lunging in general is much less green. 

Speaking of green, I'm riding a new horse of KB's, Luna. Luna is totally broke but still fairly green. It's nice to have the chance to ride something baby like since that's where I'm heading with Emi. I love how rewarding a green horse is since your expectations are generally lower. Yah for riding opportunities, sunny weekends and lots of Rolex coverage to watch!