Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Blogger Gift Exchange

This is my second year participating in the blogger gift exchange and it's always so much fun. Horse people are so good at giving awesome gifts to other horse people. This year I got a lovely package from Cathryn at That Red Mare.

This is the information I provided:
  • About Me: I have a 3 year old welsh cob who I am preparing to compete in dressage this coming year. I love pink/purple/teal. Specific gift ideas: Fly bonnet (standard sizes fit the pony), mane N tail detangler, bit wipes, a new paddle tail brush,  
Inside my nicely wrapped package was a lovely grey and pink bonnet. I told my friend that it will match one of my saddle pads super well... and I then found out it was made to match that saddle pad. Emi will be stylin' this year! The bonnet was made by "If the Bonnet Fits."

The pad it will match so perfectly with

I also received a purple tail brush, Cowboy Magic detangler and some treats. I got almost everything off my list! Of course I had to pull Emi out of her stall to model for me last night....

Can you say adorable? Thank you, Cathryn!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Family Reunion

Emi and Roz have been re-united. I’m in the process of moving, so Roz has moved to NDF for the next month or so. He’s on pasture board since there’s isn’t actually a stall open for him. In the morning I put him in Emi’s stall, to eat his grain. The first morning I brought him into the barn (she was still in her stall as I planned to swap them right there). She was so excited to see him and almost ran me over when I opened her stall door.  There was no squealing, ear pinning, or anything else just arched necks and sniffing each other. It was as if they were both saying “I wondered what happened to you.”  Talk about cute! As the week went on there has a been a little less enthusiasm but you can tell they know each other.

Yesterday I decided to take advantage of having him at the barn and took him for a ride. Emi’s saddle fits him well so that was an added bonus. I hopped on him in the arena and off he went. We trotted around a little bit but that was the extent of our arena riding. He felt decent and I was happy with that. I then opened the gate and we went for a walk down the barn driveway. Roz loves to “trail ride” so he was marching along with his ears up. It was so nice to be on his back and going for a ride. I’m hoping to get out on him at least once a week. I think he enjoys it as much as I do. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Parting Ways

I kind of parted ways with Emi on Thursday night. You may be wondering how you "kind of" part was. I was mounting with my left foot firmly in the stirrup when Emi spooked from the mounting block. She carried me with her for a few steps until I crashed onto the floor (and the mounting blog that I had tipped over with my right leg. Ouch! I did keep ahold of Emi and got up unharmed (mostly). 

I righted the mounting block and set it so that she was facing the gate into the arena rather than with her rump to it. I mounted with out incident and we went on our way. She was really tense when we started out; going forward but in a rushed sort of way. Although it was counter intuitive I pushed her forward and finally felt her swinging through and relaxing. It was some of our best trot work yet! 

I rode her again on Saturday and she was awesome! We worked on all of our exercises from the JW clinic: leg yields nose to the wall, regular baby leg yields (quarter line to the wall), spiraling in on the circle and practicing cantering confidently forward with lots of transitions across the diagonal. Her work is getting better and better and I'm looking forward to our next clinic. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

10 Questions for December

Thanks to L. Williams for the questions! 

Does your horse need shoes? Neither Emi or Roz wear shoes. Emi has fabulous cob feet and shouldn't need shoes. I do put front hoof boots on her when I'm taking her on rocky trails.

Roz wore shoes when he was in work but now that he's a pasture pet he goes barefoot. 

Hoof boots on!

What do you think of the barefoot vs shoes debate?
 I think it's unnecessary. Due to the many factors involved, some horses need them, some don't due.

Favorite season for riding? Spring and summer! I love the long days and all of the activities that take place during those seasons. 

How many shows do you think you’ve gone to?
 Lots! I've only done one USEA event, and the rest of the shows that I have done have been unrecognized. Emi and I are going to change that. 

Roz and I at our one and only recognized event

Do you consider yourself a good rider?
 Yes, I think I'm a good rider. I could definitely be a better and more effective that's what we are working towards. 

One of my favorite riding photos

How experienced do you think someone needs to be to own a horse?
This is a hard one to answer. If you have a lot of support from knowledgeable people I think you can get by with less experience. If not you are going to learn through the school of hard knocks. I think taking lesson (maybe leasing) and learning as much as you can prior to owning is the best way to go. 

Have you ever gotten into a fight with your trainer? No, I've quit riding with trainers but never gotten into a fight.

Describe your dream horse. Emi 

More seriously, I've always wanted a bay with 4 white socks and a blaze. Now, I'm less interested in the chrome and more interested in a fun and willing partner, regardless of the package they come in. 

Does anyone in your family ride? Not really. My mom and dad have both ridden at various times in their life but I'm the only real horse nut.

If you could ride any horse in the world, which one would it be? Why? Since' I've already ridden Cardi I can't use that again here. I don't think I have another specific horse that tops my list. I'd love to ride another Grand Prix horse and I'd specifically like to ride a line of tempi changes. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Looking back on 2016

2016 has been a big year for me.

I still had Benny in January and we went on our first overnight trip to JW's for some lessons. I also took Benny's sale video at the end of January.  Roz was not acting right and I was wondering if he may have cushings (he didn't).

The 1/2 arab club on our trip to see JW
Benny was listed for sale in February and the adventures in horse selling began. His initial vet check happened and he was declared "lame." Roz was also seen by the vet and was declared to be in good health aside from a heart murmur.  He received an adjustment and an acupuncture treatment.

March: Upon further veterinary examination Benny was declared sound. One more trip to the vet for radiographs of his feet and he was on his way to his new home in California. Roz had his 24th birthday. Emi moved up to his stall at NDF and we began taking lesson with KB.

Moved in to NDF
Emi's ground training continued in April. We introduced the bit and began lunging her in side reins near the end of the month.

May was an exciting month with Emi's first ride and my lesson on Cardi. Both rides happened the same week and were an amazing experience. Getting to have a lesson on Cardi was the highlight of my riding career. It was my first time ever getting to ride piaffe, passage and pirouettes. Amazing!

First ride!!!
Riding Cardi

So much fun!!!

Emi had her 3rd birthday in June. We continued riding, went on her first official trail ride and bought a dressage saddle.

Emi and I went on three trail rides in July, one of them being her first Poker ride (on her 16th ride). She was awesome...seriously so impressive. She got a new bridle from Flexible Fit Equestrian to match her new dressage saddle.

Poker ride with the best baby
August brought our first unsupervised arena ride (ride #21). We also got to go on a trail ride with Emi's mom (and several other horses). This is the trail ride where Emi rolled in the creek we were trying to cross.  I hauled Emi to a neighboring barn for a lesson in preparation for a schooling show we planned to attend. She was really backed off in the new arena but was otherwise well behaved. August also brought my 4 year cancerversary.

Looking like a big kid
Posing with Emi's mom, Chloe. 
September was a super fun month. Emi attended her first ever dressage show. We competed at Intro A & B with scores 68.75% and a 70%. The scores were very generous but when I watched the video back Emi really did look good. She was very well behaved for her first horse show and it was fun to get out. We also went on her first beach trip. She was super good and we had tons of fun with Tarra and Mystic.

First dressage (and riding) show
This photo was a dream long before it became a reality
We went back to JW's in October, this time with Emi in tow. We had 4 days of great lessons and learning before heading home. At the end of the month we hauled out for a beautiful fall trail ride.

Our biggest November highlight was playing on the Mountain Trail course. I attended with Emi the previous year, when she wasn't yet broke to ride. This year I led her through before hopping on. I was really pleased with how she handled it and that she completed the majority of the obstacles with out needing to follow another horse through. I could tell that she is gaining confidence and I appreciated her willingness to try.

Although December is only half way over it has been a great month. Our rides have been mostly good and we had a fabulous clinic with JW. Looking back to the summer months and when Emi was first started she has come such a long way. She's almost 3.5 and I couldn't ask for more in terms of how her training is progressing. I've tried to be very careful that I don't overdo it with her, and I think putting in 65 rides in just about 8 months has been a nice light schedule for both of us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Keeping Me Humble

Thank you all for the nice comments regarding my clinic posts. It's nice to know people read along and that they are rooting for you.

Horses sure do have a way of keeping us humble. Saturday I had that fabulous clinic ride. Monday I had some friends out to the barn to see the kittens and to hang out with us. The plan was for the girls to take a pony ride on Miss Em after I rode her. These two girls are frequently in Emi photos and they love getting to "ride" her. As it turned out Emi was NOT having it!

I rode her in some jingle bells that I wanted to use on a trial ride this weekend. After ten minutes of a very tense pony I removed the bells. 5 more minutes of riding and she was no better. Off again, this time to change her saddle pad (maybe a princess and the pea situation?). No better. Off again, this time for the lunge line. 10-15 minutes of lunging and back on again. This time she was more settled so after 10 more minutes we called it a night. Talk about a difficult ride. We did end up taking a few photos with the stinker pony which turned out pretty cute. Now the 2 year old who normally says "ride, Emi, helmet" is saying "Emi, spin, spankin'." How funny is that!?

Emi did redeem herself with a great ride this afternoon so that was very much appreciated. Horses were in today due to predicted ice and snow. I lunged her for about 10 minutes prior to hopping on. Once in the saddle I was able to go to work on some of our clinic homework. I hope we come out ready to play for our next clinic. 

I'm noticing that my saddle seems to be sliding forward so I've also contacted the saddle fitter to schedule an appointment. Hopefully we will be able to make a trip to her in the near future. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Clinic Day #2 - Game On

Saturday Emi came out ready to go. She was responsive and forward, really a whole different pony from the first day. This freed us up to work on a few other things besides going. We did our baby leg yields to the wall and then counter position and shift her shoulders in on the circle. I'm amazed at how adjustable she is. I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't know any better, or she hasn't ever learned to be resistant, but other than being clueless about what I want she really is fairly easy to manipulate.

She's just so cute!
The canter work was majorly better in the sense that she was actually moving. It's still disorganized but JW was not concerned and said that she wouldn't be surprised if it stays like that through the winter. One of the exercise she has us do was to pick up the canter in the corner, transition to the trot across the diagonal and then canter again at the corner. It sounds too advanced for where we are at (and in some ways it is) but the point of it was to use her anticipation of understanding the exercise, help us in getting the canter. The transitions did improve and become a little more fluid as we worked on it and it gave us the opportunity to do lots of transitions. We will be adding that exercise to our rides for the foreseeable future!

In the trot work we incorporated some big kid (tighter) changes of directions and they rode so nicely!  I felt like I was actually riding a trained horse! We ended with working on nose to the wall leg yields (for the first time). I've seen a lot of horses have a melt down when learning this but she stayed right with me and did pretty well. It was amazing to feel the improvement in the connection as I walked her out of those. That's another exercise that we are supposed to be incorporating into our rides.

I was thrilled to finish on such a strong note with her and I feel re-engerized to keep chipping away at it. On top of a great lesson I was struck again by what a cool horse Emi is. She is turning in to a traveling pro! We went with a friend on Friday but hauled by ourselves on Saturday. Both times Emi climbed right on to the trailer, hauled quietly, came off the trailer and stood calmly tied while she got tacked up. I haven't been around a ton of 3 year olds but I have been around many horses older than that who were not nearly as easy. Emi gets a gold star. I can hardly believe my little baby has grown up!

One tuckered out pony
And again, video if you are so inclined to watch. I know it's long but I try to give you enough context to know what we are doing and also to see the progression through out the lesson.

Clinic Day #1 - Forward is a must

The first day of our clinic addressed the fact that Emi must go forward. The lesson started out well, she was a little quiet in the trot but behaving nicely. We did a few baby leg yields, which are a new thing. Those went well and then we challenged her on going more forward. We've had this discussion with her before but Friday was the first time we've really put pressure on her. Emi did not like it! She was backed off, even worse than normal, with being in a new place and wasn't interested in being light off the aids. I dislike being aggressive with my whip but when whispering isn't working sometimes you have to shout.

One thing JW challenged me on is that if I use the stick I need to be sure that I get a response. If I spank her, she doesn't responded and I don't follow through, then I'm smacking her for no reason. JW is very very fair to the horse, black and white, which I really appreciate. We had a heck of a time with the canter. She wasn't going! The transition was a struggle and so was going forward at the canter itself.
Someone has opinions about being spanked
The focus of the lesson really was about her being light to the aids and forward with her intent. JW not only wanted Emi marching forward but with her ears and attitude being good. She likened a couple of moments to her being a teenager. "Fine, I'll do it because I don't want to be spanked but I'm not going to be happy about it." Don't get me wrong, we had some lovely moments but overall the lesson was a bit of a struggle with several little discussions about the response I was expecting.

When you are riding alone it's hard to know how much you should be pushing and when it's time to increase the expectations. Now the ball is in my court to stay very consistent with my expectations. I'm feeling re-energized and ready to keep working. 

If you are interested, here's some video from our lesson.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter is not my season....

A co-worker and I share the same opinion about this time of year. Not only are the short days depressing but the mud and the cold weather don't help. 

Ride #60 was great and then Emi ended up with 7 days off (besides being lunged one of those days). Lack of motivation (see above: dark, rainy, cold) combined with a busier than normal social calendar is to blame for the time off.  

Lunging on Tuesday and it was so cold!

Did I mention that we have a clinic tomorrow? Sounds like the perfect prep prior to taking a green three year old to a clinic...not! If it doesn't go well it's entirely my fault, however, I'm feeling more confident after a fabulous ride tonight. Not only had Emi been off work for 7 days but horses were in today due to ice and it was about 32 degrees when I went out to ride tonight. I lunged her for less than 10 minutes before hopping on and she was lovely. Way less spooky than she had been. I kept our ride short but did several three loop serpentines and some canter transitions. It's amazing how much easier things are when your horse isn't spooking at both ends of the arena!  Hopefully I'll have so new photos and/or video after the clinic. 

This is what my car looked like before I went to the barn...
Such a good girl! Pretty sure she growing as her butt seems to be getting taller.