Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Goldilocks

One of my recent complaints is that I wish Emi would come out hot at one of our clinic rides. She's generally more lazy than she normally is at home. Not only do I need more horse for my lessons but it also makes it hard to get the right tools for riding that particular problem. This last week we've had all three ponies, lazy, hot and just right. 

Lazy: Since I'm adding Friday as a riding day I've decided to make it "Fun Friday" and pull out poles to keep things interesting for us. This past Friday was our first Fun Friday and Emi was so lazy making it so much work for me. She was fabulous about the poles but in general was very slow/dull. Lazy is one of my least favorite ways to have her as I hate having to be on her case every moment.


Hot: Sunday when I rode she was crazy tense. Probably the worst I've ever ridden her through. The day had been stormy but the weather wasn't bad when I was riding her. She was really spooky and tight. On those kind of days she's usually also fairly hot and quick off my leg. In between spooks we actually had some pretty nice work as I was riding her very strongly and insisting that she work. We are still on the struggle bus for bringing her shoulders around when tracking right. She was blowing through my outside aids and falling out in a big way at one point on the circle. I changed to tracking left (falling left) to feel that again and it was easy. Back to tracking right (falling right), it was really a no go. I finally brought her back down to the walk and reinforced my aids at the walk. After an hour of riding I called it a day as I didn't think I was going to gain anything by continuing on. 



Just Right: I wasn't feeling super motivated to ride this evening but figured that I better just go out and get it done. Sure enough, Emi was a super star. Not too lazy, not too hot...just right. I opted to check in with her on the lunge line prior to hopping on (see Sunday's ride). Of course she lunged like an old school horse so less than 10 minutes in I was climbing aboard. She tried to be a little looky but overall was attentive and prompt to my aids. The connection was lovely tonight and the canter really is beginning to make progress. The transition is becoming slightly reliable and tracking left I'm gaining the ability to influence her. That's been really fun! Our shoulders falling in when tracking right was much better tonight. As warm up we did counter bend, shoulders coming around at the walk, in both directions. At the trot I finally felt like I had Emi coming off my outside aids when tracking right. I'm hoping she is finally understanding what I'm looking for. She got lots of praise tonight and a few extra breaks when she gave me the right answer. Good ponies don't have to work super hard so 30 minutes in she was done. I'm glad I chose to ride, even if I wasn't feeling it before I got out there. I'm reminded that "action precedes inspiration." 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A New Farm

We have moved! There is a lot of work to do around the new farm but it will be really lovely when it's done. It's got a very cool older barn that is not currently set up for horses. It's got a lovely sheet-rocked room in the middle of the barn which will be my tack room. It currently has several spots that they were framing in (mostly for what appear to be bathrooms), perhaps planning to turn it in to a living space. 
This photo is from when we looked at the farm

The barn was full of cool stuff when we looked at it. The owner did leave some stuff behind so we've had some barn clean up to do before starting to renovate. 
The below photos are all since we have moved in. 


A cool cabinet that was left behind. I've moved it in to my tack room. 

The loft
The clean up crew has been hard at work. 
 We will be putting in an outdoor arena this summer and Emi will get to live here. Last weekend Roz and Liam (the mini donkey) moved here. I'm looking forward to having all of my critters back home. 

Exploring our new home over the weekend
The pasture (and future site of an arena)

The view from my living room
What will be my tack room
Seriously adorable
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stages of Learning

One thing that's very interesting about riding a young horse is that they tend to change and develop so rapidly. With some of the new tools we have she's actually gotten a little harder to ride. Now that she's learning to move her haunches and shoulders around she's more wiggly and requires quite a bit more input from me to keep all of her parts int he right spot. She was tense when we started this evening which just exacerbated this. She was anticipating what I might ask and throwing all of her tricks my way. It wasn't at all naughty, just a little overachieving.

On the flip side, having new tools has made her way more fun to ride. I'm getting more precise control and able to give her more input than ever before. This is becoming especially true at the canter. In the last couple of weeks the canter has started to develop enough for me to influence it. I'm feeling really good about finally seeing some progress there. It seems like it's been a long time coming although I know it really hasn't been that bad.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Video: Clinic Day 2

Here's the video from the second day of our clinic if any of you wanted to watch it.



Our calendar is beginning to fill up. I just sent in an entry for a schooling show on March 19th and another JW clinic in May. We also have a tentative date for a March lesson with JW, along with a league show the first weekend in April. Emi's not going to know what hit her.

I'm getting ready to up her rides from 3 to 4 days per week. I've mainly been doing Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday but I think I'm going to start doing Tuesday/Thursday/Friday/Sunday. I think she's ready for the increased work and I know it would be good if I could get her more fit. It's hard being a pony!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Video: Clinic Day 1

I finally had a chance to upload video from the first day of our clinic 2 weeks ago. It was helpful to re-watch it and I'm looking forward to utilizing the square turns on my next ride. I'm also happy to report that I think we have hit a turning point in our canter work. The transitions are finally making progress and so is the canter itself. Yah!



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Grazing Muzzle Advice

Emi is going to be out in a large pasture this spring and I do not plan to have her turn into an umpa-lumpa. Any grazing muzzle advice? She wore one a little bit the spring of her 2 year old year so it won't be entirely new to her but I want to get her a good one. Does anyone have a favorite grazing muzzle?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Saucy Sassy & So Fun

I had a great ride on Emi tonight and yet she was pretty sassy. I tried using a jumping bat as JW recommended trying it for use on her shoulder when she's trying to pop it out. It seemed to work well except for the fact that I had to take a hand off the reins to use it behind my leg. We had been working for a bit and she was being good, not tense or very looky. I asked for a canter and she didn't go. I asked again with a smack behind my leg to which she responded by broncing...1, 2, 3 as I'm gathering my reins back up and laughing. She didn't complete her bucks so it was a little more like dolphin leaping and not bad to ride.  She had a few more bucks in her as the ride progressed but nothing I couldn't handle. I told my friend, April, that I feel like I "own" her now. I'm riding her harder, pushing her more, and learning what she can handle. I'm also re-learning what I can handle. It's such a great feeling and it's like I'm finding the rider I used to be, which is partly because of my trust in Emi. What an awesome feeling. 

To top that off we had her best canter work tonight. I feel like we are nearing a breakthrough! We had some really decent canter transitions tonight, along with some progress in our nose to the wall trotting leg yields. I'm so pleased with how she feels and the progress she is making. She's one fun pony!

My darling girl
Saturday we had the saddle fitter out for an adjustment. She added some flocking to the front of the saddle and it feels even better now than it did. After making the adjustments I took Emi over to the arena to try our saddle out. The fitter followed about 20 minutes later as she was adjusting another saddle. She commented that the last time she had been out Emi was on the lunge line! I think she was impressed with her progress and commented that she was really forward and a really good pony. 

Saddle fitting round one with my green bean
And, as of tonight she's shedding. Spring is coming!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Right Tools

This winter has been a little bit of a struggle for me as Emi has been on the tense side. I feel like it has been harder to work her through it due to the fact that I don't yet know what she is capable of and also because I haven't felt like I have a lot of tools. Since she doesn't know all that much it's not as easy to just "put her to work."

In the last month or so I realized that I need to quit worrying about what she might do and ride her as if she's trained. Wouldn't you know that has made a world of difference! I hopped on her for our ride tonight and she was yet again tense. I'm not sure what it is about our arena but she's really not a big fan. I was able to put our new exercises and clinic tools to work and it was so helpful. Now that she's becoming more trained there are so many more things to work on and I love it!

We capitalized on the nervous tension but working on that nice forward engine. We had some of our best canter transitions and even a few moments where I felt able to influence the canter. We practiced bringing her shoulders around with a slight counter bend and that went really well. I think we are both getting the hang of it. In addition, we worked on those nose to the wall leg yields at the trot and got some much better attempts at them than we did in our lesson on Saturday. At the end of the ride she was trotting forward with a nice swinging trot and was the most stretchy she has ever felt. It's so nice to be at a stage where the progress can really be felt.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Clinic Day 2

Saturday we headed back down for our second day of clinic. Not surprisingly, Emi was on the tired side. We started our ride with some of the shoulders falling in from the previous day and then moved right on in to the canter work before she got too tired. The canter was harder than on Friday as I just didn't have as much pony. We did practice more transitions (using the diagonal exercise). We then moved on to my favorite portion of the lesson. We did more trot work, but this was focused on forehand turns and ultimately leg yielding at the trot, nose to the wall. We didn't actually get the final piece in place but we started on it and that's my homework now.


She's great at doing a leg yield nose to the wall (at the walk) but the trot was a new area. We set it up by doing some forehand turns and then trotting off. Not only was this a nice exercise to get her moving off my leg but the transitions really began to sharpen her up as well. Towards the end of this time she was carrying herself better and better, and was trotting off promptly and forward. The leg yield at the trot with her nose to the wall was difficult and we only got a couple small steps each direction. When I struggled to get it, we'd bring her back to the walk and re-establish it at the walk before going back to the trot and trying it again. I'm looking forward to practicing that more because I think she's will be good at it once she figures it out. 


Once our lesson was over we had two barn mates to watch (and video). The clinic location doesn't have any stabling available and it was pouring down rain so not a nice day to tie to the trailer. Emi stood 2-3 feet from me, by the tripod, while I video for almost an hour and a half. She snoozed most of the time. At one point, a fellow clinic participant came over to cuddle with Emi and said she was in love with her.

As with the last clinic, I still feel like we are on the right track. She's making progress and I'm making progress. My personal take aways are that I need to focus this next month on being able to move her body around more. I need to expect her to be more prompt about her canter departs and I need to follow through better regarding her response to my leg. I sometimes get sucked in to nagging! I'll share clinic video once I have a chance to upload it.

My video assistant. Being a big kid is hard work!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Back At It

I've been majorly slacking off in the blogging department, and it's not even because I've had nothing to talk about. I've been in the middle of moving and the place that I was staying didn't have internet (or even very good cell service). That makes for difficult blogging! Expect a few catch up posts in the coming days. 

Friday and Saturday Emi and I went to our JW clinic. It's been two months since our last clinic so I was looking forward to getting more input on the next steps. We showed our trot work to start and JW challenged me to be able to move her shoulders around, mainly by counter bending and having her shoulders "fall in." Let me tell you, this was much harder than I expected. I kept losing her shoulders to the outside, especially tracking right. This would cause me to get a little desperate and I'd pull her around with my right rein, making the falling out shoulders even worse. For whatever reason I really struggled with this area of the lesson and wasn't getting the job done very well. 


We addressed the canter as a current main sticking point for being ready to show training level. J feels like it's time to start demanding more from Emi regarding the transition as she tends to be very slow picking it up. We did find that due to the falling out shoulder issue, tracking left (confusing I know) her shoulders are falling right which is causing me to hold with my left rein. As soon as I gave the left rein away we got our best canter transition ever...I think I have been getting in her way! Oops! The canter itself was fairly good and she was nicely forward, just like we have been practicing. 


We do still have opinions sometimes


Love that sweet face!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Because Inspiration Photo Challenge

BecausePony put on a photo challenge as part of her website launch. I thoroughly enjoyed participating and thought I'd share my photos with all of you. 

Selfie Time - Day 1 of the @becausepony challenge. Owner of two adorable horses: Emi (the 3 year old welsh cob pictured) and Roz (my 24 year old TB). I ride dressage and eventually hope to get back to low level eventing. 


Discipline - Day 2 of the @becausepony challenge. I mainly ride dressage and I also enjoy trail riding. Back in the day I used to jump... I love dressage for the meticulous detail and the harmony between horse and rider. I can't wait to do a musical freestyle some day! 

Critter Menagerie - Day 3 of the @becausepony photo challenge. My only non equine pet is my dog, Annie May. She's a darling 12 year old border collie mix. A total goof ball and always happy. For my next dog I plan to get a standard poodle! 



Pony love ❤️ part 1 of the @becausepony photo challenge. Rozzy Ridge has been a fixture in my life the past 10 years. He's an OTTB that will turn 25 on March 7th. I really have so many special photos of him. The top photo of us cuddling at the beach was taken a day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There's no better therapy than horses at the beach! He's been an amazing partner whether it was trail riding, jumping, riding bareback, showing or being a lesson pony, he's been game for it all and loves having a job. He's priceless to me.


Pony love ❤️ part 2 of the @becausepony photo challenge. Winterlake Emerald is a 3 year old welsh cob mare. I purchased her at 3 days old and have thoroughly enjoyed my journey with her. She's a dream come true for me and it's been amazing to watch her grow into a beautiful mare. From teaching her to lead, to her first bath, to her first ride...what fun! I can't help but think the best is yet to come


Barn Buds - The @becausepony photo challenge day 5. My longest barn friend is @gakstattin. So many memories there. We could write a book! 😜Then my littlest barn friends that just love Emi. I walk through the door and that's all those girls want is to look at photos of Emi on my phone. Darling, @chantellelerae. ❤️Finally the 1/2 Arab club @nvrdonefrm and @liss714. I may no longer have a 1/2 Arab but I'm always happy to be on their team.


Comfort Zone - For day 6 of the @becausepony photo challenge. This year my biggest challenge was starting a horse for the first time. With the help of a knowledgeable trainer and a sweet pony it went smoothly and now we are continuing our journey towards having a dressage pony.


Imagine That - Day 7 of the @becausepony photo. I really don't consider myself a creative person but I'd say my best creative effort has been my blog. Otherwise I'd say I'm fairly creative at my job...mostly problem solving.


Got Skillz? - Day 8 of the @becausepony photo challenge. Skills outside the barn...what are those? 😳 Seriously though, I'd have to say photography.


Kindness Counts - Day 9 of the @becausepony photo challenge. This photo was taken during my 6th chemo treatment (almost exactly 4 years ago) with my friend, Kellie, who sat through all but one chemo treatment with me. That's a gift of time, energy and encouragement that just can't be beat. 

Ready? Set? Goal - The final day of the @becausepony photo challenge. I have so many goals this year. My main goal is to be able to show Emi training level with in the next six months. My other big goal is to put in an outdoor arena at my new house and move both horse home. 😍 I better get to work!