Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trailer Improvement Suggestions

Olivia at DIY Horse Ownership posted a tutorial for putting in a new tack room floor.  Trails (and trials) also has a tack room modification. This is now high on my list as I hate the carpet in my trailer tack room.

However, this leads my to another issue. My tack room leaks. Does anyone else have trouble with this? I think it actually condensates more than it leaks. Have any of you added insulation to you trailer tack room?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Much Better

Roz had a successful hour out in the pasture today (with out me standing watch). I set up a pen by the field and Roz was much happier with his donkey on babysitting duty. However, Liam was not a happy camper. By the time I came back out to bring them in he was mad! He charged out of the pen and thought about trying to drag me back to the barn. It was pretty funny because he's such a tiny little guy. I pulled him to a stop and told him to knock it off. He then jogged back to the barn in a fairly obedient manner. He's seriously so cute! He'll have to continue babysitting until Emi comes home but I actually think a dry lot/holding pen, next to the pasture, is a great idea. That could come in handy for Emi too who does not need unlimited time on lush green pasture. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Horse and His Donkey

Roz had his first turn out in the pasture at the new house. It went great for the first 30 minutes or so as I was snapping pictures and my nephews were hanging out with me.


He might be 25 but he's still got it

So much grass!
And then....we all walked away. Game over. He started screaming and galloping like a maniac. Of course I hadn't gone far so I went right back out to catch him. He was in such a dither it took me a little bit to catch him. By the time I got him stopped he was huffing and puffing and starting to sweat. We walked around for a while and I hand grazed him for a bit before taking him back to his paddock. I think that we are going to make a small pen for Liam, so that I can bring him over to the pasture as well (since it's on the other side of the farm). It's always something!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Any Tips?

Asking for a friend (really), do you struggle with memorizing your dressage tests? Do you use a reader? If not, why? What are your best tips and tricks for memorizing your test?

On another note, I had a great ride on Emi tonight. She came out wound up so I opted for a quick lunge as I hadn't ridden her since last Thursday. A few minutes of lunging and one huge buck later she looked like the kind of horse I'd like to ride. It's amazing to me how much she seems to have grown up in the last month or two. She's feeling more and more broke and is becoming pretty reliable.

We have a clinic in about a month and I'm super excited to get more input. The only real problem I've had with starting Emi myself is knowing when it's time to push her further. At this time I think we are definitely ready to up the ante. Today Emi was pretty sure she had no idea what giving to the bit would mean. I could hear JW warning me to be careful that I don't let her out of the contact when she won't go. In other words, don't throw away the contact to get her to go as that will quickly teach her that sucking back solves the question of having contact. Tonight was one of the first nights where we really had a discussion about it. Luckily for me, Emi discussions usually last about, oh, 10 steps. Haha.

I was careful to push her forward and not give up the contact and after llama necking half a circle she gave it up. I tried to be really aware of whether or not she was actually being soft or if she was just faking it. My attention to detail paid off and by the time we finished up she felt awesome. I could have ridden longer but I know she was tired.

Since we are tackling Intro C at our next show we worked on several canter transitions and got some that were decent. I'm excited to see if JW thinks we are at a point where I can start to influence the canter.  The last time we saw her, in February, she still didn't feel like Emi was ready so I've basically been riding her around in a nice forward canter but not asking anything more than that.

Thursday is going to be Emi's first ride with someone other than me.  A good friend is going to ride her 2-3 times while I'm at Rolex. I'm excited to see how she does with a different rider and also what Melissa thinks of her.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Arena Planning

I'm currently in the planning phase for an outdoor arena. When I was discussing my plans with my farrier, he mentioned another client who had an arena put in recently. He thought she's be willing to talk with me and she said yes. It was fun to see her arena and to discuss the process with her. Her arena was just put in this past fall and she's been very happy with it. We've had a super rainy winter and she's been able to ride in it all winter long. There were two things she would change...1) she'd make it bigger 2) she would have planned better on how she was going to water it in the summer.

I'm calling the person installed hers tomorrow, and I've got another person who will be coming out soon to give me a bid. I'm curious if anyone else has had an outdoor arena put it. Any advice? Things you like, things you would change? I'm so excited!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's Hard to be Three - Day 2

Sunday we had test two for our team division. I hadn’t signed up for an open class as I thought Emi would have probably had enough by this point in the weekend. As expected, she came out nice and quiet for our warm up. Once in the show arena the tension returned full force. She started calling as soon as we got in there. Have you ever noticed that when your horse isn’t ready to start their test the judge rings the bell way too soon? That’s what happened for us. I was doing my best to settle her when the judge rang the bell….so off we went. 

Emi wanted to look around so bad and was calling away. We were managing alright until we got back by the exit door. Just as we turned to start our free walk a horse came clopping in to the area outside the door. Emi wanted to turn around and look so bad! We blew both our free walk and medium walk (getting a 2.5 on both plus an error for her stopping during the free walk portion). I was so thankful to get back to the trot work since that gives me a little more to work with. Just as we started our second trot circle a train whistle echoed through the arena. At this point all I could do was smile since things were so not going according to plan. We made our final turn down centerline and executed a nice halt. That test was really not what I wanted to end on but sometimes it just “is what it is.” 

Further remarks on this test: “Some tension this test really affecting the walk work. Rider did well with tactful riding.” The collective marks were all really low. 6 for gaits, 5 for impulsion, 5 for submission, 6 for rider position, 5.5 for effectiveness of the aids, and 6 for geometry and accuracy. This resulted in a final score of 53.438%. Ouch! I was a little disappointed that both halts only scored a 6.5 as both felt really good (and had scored well the previous day). I was also disappointed with the collective marks. One thing about dressage that I find frustrating at times is the wide variety in scoring (and this was all the same judge). I had scored a 7.5 and a 7 the previous day on my position and got a 6 for this test. Let’s be honest, it’s not as if my riding miraculously changed overnight! I understand that how my horse is going reflects on how I’m riding it but sometimes how your horse is going has less to do with how it’s being ridden and more with it’s emotional state. Does anyone else think that can be true? 

At the end of the day I’m still thrilled with how well Emi’s doing. I’ve had more than one person comment that they are glad to hear she’s not always perfect. It was a great outing and she gained some valuable miles this weekend. I’m pleased that despite her level of anxiety I was still able to ride her and she didn’t have any major explosions. I feel like I rode her well and did a good job thinking while doing my test. There are definitely things that we need to keep working on and ways that I could be riding her better but we are getting there. 

Since I have no plans to sell her I don't mind sharing what a lovely 53% at Intro looks like. Haha.

As it turned out, her high score and low score averaged out for Reserve Champion in her division. Our team was also Champion of our team division. Emi got her first Reserve Champion ribbon, a whip and I got a medal. It was a nice way to end the weekend. 

My barn mates and I 
Now we have about another month before our next league show, where we will be doing Intro C for the first time. I guess I better keep practicing those canter transitions. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

It's Hard to be Three - Day 1

If you follow me on Instagram you've seen me use the hashtag "it's hard to be three." Emi definitely thought that was the case this weekend. We went to our third show, which was a league show called the Adult Team Show. As the name implies, it's a show for adults only and is run as a team competition. Teams are made up of 3 or 4, divided into divisions and off you go.

Emi and I had a team ride and an open class ride on the schedule for Saturday morning. She warmed up fine and accepted a fairly busy warm up arena with out any trouble. The competition is held at our State Fairgrounds and it has a pretty cool old arena that is used for showing. I love the character of the arena but it can be a bit of an intimidating location as the arena is very enclosed and isolated feeling. Emi walked in for her open ride (Into B) and the horse in front of us walked out...Emi was not thrilled with this situation. Although our test was marked with tension she remained rideable and settled more as the test continued. You'll see in the video that she really stalled out and was looking in the walk portion of the test. That end of the court was lined up perfectly with the doors leading out of the arena and she was able to catch a glimpse of the horses outside in the warm up arena. Not only did her looking affect the medium walk but also our free walk across the diagonal, which is normally a good move for her.

After that test we had about 30 minutes before our ride for our team competition, which was Intro A. I gave her a break before trotting around a bit more and heading in for our next test. She was more rideable and less anxious, and I came out feeling better about our efforts than with the first test.

After getting Emi put away I was changing when a friend found me to tell me that my test, ribbon and prize were all back at my stall. What!? Emi had won her open ride class with a 63.438%. Our prize was a glass thermos with "Oregon Dressage Society" on it. Cool! Further remarks: "Cute horse and pair. Connection into hand needs development - try to maintain steady activity in walk."

It wasn't too long after that, that results came out for Intro A. We won that class also with a 72.500%. We got a 6.5 on submission but everything else was a 7 or 8 with one 8.5 for her final halt. Further remarks were "well ridden, lovely moments, try to steady connection into hand (half halt).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bruised Feet

Thank you all for the lovely comments regarding the show photos. It is a little bit surreal that Emi has already gone from a baby to a riding horse. Where did the time go?

I am seeking opinions on an interesting issue.  Has anyone dealt with chronically bruised feet? Not bruised on the sole but on the hoof wall. Emi's hind feet (which are white) are always bruised. The farrier said it's due to her whacking it on something but it seems odd to me that both the inside and outside of both hind feet are always bruised. She doesn't seem to interfere and even if she did...why would the outside be bruised? She doesn't kick in her stall so it's not that. Does anyone have experience with this? She's not sore or lame or anything else so you'd have no idea anything was amiss except her white feet are purple...we actually have a new specialty podiatry clinic opening up near us so I'm going to ask them next! 

Left hind from the front


Inside (the right hind looks the same)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Show Photos

The good pony doing her job...

This is pretty much how test B went...Emi says "this is stupid." At least my position is good! 

"This is so easy I can do it with my eyes closed"

And cantering as part of our go-forward schooling after test B. She resembles a giraffe but one of these days it's going to be lovely. 

 Is she cute or what!? I love her big expressive eyes, long forelock and kissable snip. 

Emi and I with her breeder who came to cheer us on. 
All photos shared with permission from Cindy Miller and Alise Lamoreaux.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Transformation Tuesday

Emi has matured quite a bit in the last several months. Do you agree? 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

TRC Spring Schooling Show

Bright and early this morning (5:45am) Emi and I pulled out of NDF and headed to a schooling show about and hour and a half from us. The show was held at a lovely farm...but it doesn't have a warm up arena. It was scheduled in such a way that there was a break every 5 riders and there was extra time in between rides, but not quite ideal for a young horse. Due to limited warm up time I wanted to arrive extra early to give Emi a chance to scope out the arena. I realized on my drive down that she hadn't ever seen a dressage court either. Oh boy! She was a little skeptical about the whole thing but settled in fairly quickly. Once she had a chance to look around and had relaxed, I put her in her stall.

Super pretty arena with lovely footing
I spent some time grooming her and she was happily eating hay until two of her stablemates showed up. They were screaming away and she joined right in. I struggled to get her saddled with her flipping out in her stall. Hmm...I wasn't sure how that was going to end up. Once I got her saddled, bridled and out of her stall she was fine.

We had 10 or 15 minutes to warm up in the arena. When tests started back up they had made the arena a short court and were allowing people to ride in the open space at the end of the arena. Emi was being pokey so I took the opportunity to school "forward." I'm finding that it's pretty typical for her to be slow in a new place. I think she's trying to take it all in and can't possibly GO when she's looking around. It wasn't long before it was our turn to go.

We put in a solid test. Emi was forward enough and besides a few bobbles here and there it was nice and smooth. We got a 7.5 on our free walk and an 8 on our halt for a total score of 66.56% and first place. We also won a lung line.

Her next test was about an hour away so I put her back in her stall but left her saddle on. The time passed quickly and soon I was putting her bridle back on and mounting up. I'm pretty sure she thought she should be done at this point and she had a bit of a snotty attitude. I schooled her some and in we went. This test was not as smooth or easy as the first one. I was struggling to keep her purposely forward which in turn made the whole test harder. Since this was a schooling show and we were the last ride before the next break I was able to keep her in the arena after our test. We schooled 5 or 10 more minutes, communicating that she must go forward with a good attitude. After some better work we called it a day. Final score for her second test was 61.25% with a 7 for her free walk and a 7 for one trot transition.

There's more polishing to do but the pieces are coming together. I'm really pleased with how well Emi handled a new arena and fairly busy show experience. She's going to be an old pro in no time! We have two more weeks to work and then we are heading to a local league show. Also, the organizer of today's show let me know they were having another one April 30th to which I replied "I'll be at Rolex." Yah!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I tried to get some cute St. Patrick's Day photos and this was the best I could do...managing 3 equines wearing headbands is not the easiest thing to do. 

Clearly they were all paying great attention to me....

Chatting about Roz's field trip....

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Best Ride Yet

Emi and I had our best ride yet this morning. She came out hot and ready to go. Generally she's either lazy(ish) or hot but in a tight/tense sort of way. I don't know about the rest of you but tight/tense 3 year old is not my favorite ride. The good news is that she's coming out like that less and less and I'm getting more and more comfortable on her and trusting her more, even when she is like that. I feel like she's really starting to mature and grow up, settling down to work like a big girl and finding some comfort or confidence in knowing what to do. 

Happy girls!
Today she was anticipating my go request before I even made it. In some horses I wouldn't really appreciate that but it's rare enough in her that I was really happy to have it. We got our most prompt canter transitions ever...even the very first one.  We practiced quite a few transitions, ran through our Intro A test, and then practiced her going forward and coming back at the trot. Again, her extra energy really helped us out and she cruised right along, coming nicely back when asked. She's a really fun ride because she's comfortable and handy. She definitely feels like a little sports car. 

After our work in the ring I opened the arena door and we walked down the road to cool out. Then the farrier came for her pedicure. Last time she was a bit of a stinker but she was awesome today. Our farrier is having back surgery so her next appointment will be with someone new. Hopefully she is on her best behavior. 

It was a picture perfect "spring" day
Roz went out to NDF for the farrier too. These two are always adorable when they see each other.  Friends for life.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Solved with Sugar - Part 2

A little while ago I posted Solved with Sugar (Part 1). After today's ride I thought I'd follow up on it. Emi is still doing well with the scary corner and I'm still using sugar. Today we got our very best full ring canter. As she cantered near the scary corner for the second time I decided to stop her for some sugar. No rein pulling needed; a quiet whoa and she slammed on the brakes. If she were a reining horse she would have slid. As it was, she tripped her way into the halt. So much so that I had a moment where I thought she was going to face plant. Talk about a silly pony. I laughed out loud while feeding her a sugar cube.

Sunday was a gorgeous day and we had the chance to go trail riding. Emi was super and spent a fair amount of the ride on a loose rein.  She was very relaxed and is definitely gaining confidence outside. I had a few times where she was drifting one way or the other and a bump with my leg was all it took to move her nicely back over. The work we've been doing is paying off and she's feeling more and more trained. Talk about fun!

A couple more rides and we head to our first show of the year.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ready or Not

Things are beginning to ramp up around here. We've got a small schooling show on March 19th, a league show April 1st and 2nd. After that we have a little down time. I'll be heading off to Rolex (so so excited for that). I'm planning to have a barn mate ride Emi a couple of times while I'm gone. That will be a first for Emi so I'm looking forward to hearing about that. The weekend after we return home we will be showing at another nearby league show. The week after that we will be riding in a JW clinic.

I'm super excited for all of our upcoming adventures. At this point we are showing Intro A & B. Her canter transitions are not reliable enough to put together a training level test. It is my goal to begin showing training level by the end of the summer. It's hard to believe this time last year I was just dreaming about being able to ride her, let alone showing. What fun it has been. It will be good to get more travel miles and exposure for her over the next couple of months. I expect that she'll be fairly good, but even if she's not, I'm okay with that. She will only get better the more we go.

First ever riding show - September 2016

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Rozzy Ridge

I can hardly believe that Roz turns 25 today.  He has lived a rich life. He's raced, jumped, shown, trail ridden, given lessons, raised Emi and has been a constant companion to me for over 10 years. Although he has slowed down a little bit he's still a rascal and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I had to have a few photos with the birthday pony
What is the meaning of this? 
Love, love, love this boy. He's one of the very best. 
Carrots for his cooperation
The things a guy will tolerate for his girl. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Solved with Sugar?

Emi does not like one corner of our arena.  There are poles and such stacked in the corner and she's sure it contains a horse eating monster. Never mind that I can lead her down there (on foot) and she's alright. We've also spent many days standing in the corner, lunging down there, getting sugar for investigating etc. Although she's not super green she's still inexperienced enough that I don't always have complete control...this is especially true the faster we are going. Some days are better, some days are worse, but it's completely typical for us to only be able to use 2/3 of the arena, especially when we are tracking right and have to approach the scary corner from straight on.

I've ignored the issue to some extent since I'm not sure I can "win" an epic battle about it. The last couple of weeks I've been making more of an effort to ride her down to the scary corner and then feed her sugar while she sits there. Saturday night I think we may have had a light bulb moment. I was able to ride her around the whole entire area, including trotting straight down to the scary stuff. A lump of sugar and off we went again to trot another lap. Again we halted next to the scary corner for sugar. We changed directions and then she was almost dragging me towards that corner.

I may have created a whole new set of problems, but that's alright. I feel like I can wean her off the sugar rewards, especially if she is finally gaining a positive association with that corner. We'll see if I'm speaking too soon or if she really did finally make the connection. There's something to be said for a food motivated pony.

Ah, yes. That's the scary corner in the background. 
On top of feeling like we may have actually conquered the scary stuff, we had a super good ride for other reasons. I feel like we've finally made it over our/my winter slump. Not only am I feeling more confident but our work is progressing. Also, I'm not sure if I mentioned this a couple months ago but she was cross firing quite a bit. It came on somewhat suddenly as she's never cross fired much. I realized last night that as suddenly as she started, she stopped. I think she was at a funky growth phase as her butt had gotten taller. Yah for progress in all forms.
Seriously, she's becoming such a big girl!