Monday, May 22, 2017

Clinic Recap

As I mentioned a week or so ago, I had three very specific things I wanted to address with JW.

The first thing was that I think I should be expecting Emi to be more reliably on the bit. JW agreed with my assessment and we discussed how to go about addressing it.  I added that when Emi's tense she really carries the tension in her neck. As I was telling her this the horse before us left the arena and Emi gave a perfect demonstration of the tension in her neck.

JW said the solution was getting her from my inside leg to my outside rein. The way we accomplished this was to leg yield on a circle until she softened and came round. We did about a circle and a half before Emi decided she couldn't possibly keep moving off of my leg. We pushed through a little further until she softened and then straightened her out of it. JW said leg yielding nose to the wall would accomplish the same thing as I need to get her connected from a leg to the rein and once I have her on one side I'll have her on the other.

As we were working on this JW said that I needed to bend her right. I told her bending right was my second issue! To which she replied "how did I know?" JW said Emi doesn't bend right because I don't make her bend right. She went on to say that her gut feeling is that Emi's just a left handed horse, but she did say to explore teeth, saddle, chiro etc. On the teeth and saddle fronts I believe we are totally good. Her saddle was checked  and adjust just a couple of months ago and her teeth were done at the beginning of the year. She was also adjusted when her teeth were done but it's possible she needs to be re-adjusted.

The third issue is the canter transition. JW watched those and said it's still just a matter of time. In her experience trying to stuff them together and force the transition causes a lot of problems later on in life. She also said that she feels a canter that is slow to develop is very common in the cobs. She "implored" me to be patient and that it would come together. I'm totally okay with that answer...I just wanted to be sure I was on the right track.

We worked through all three issues on Friday and then got to go back and do it all over again on Saturday. I had some video that I watched on Friday night and had a chance to really think about the things we had covered. Saturday Emi and I both brought our A game. I was determined to do a better job of asking for right bend and also keeping my hands low. One of the pitfalls of riding with out enough instruction is that odd bad habits pop up. I don't think I've ever had a problem with my hands being too high until I was called on it this weekend. Ugh.

Anyway, Saturday was a blast! The right bend was significantly better as was the connection and I tried to be really diligent about not over-bending her to the left.  We worked quite a bit on getting her moving off my right leg and picking up her right shoulder.  We had some really lovely trot work. At the end of the ride we did a 6 loop serpentine, going from the rail to the centerline (and back). As I started out I mumbled under my breath that "this is going to be hard." I forgot we have a two way headset so JW responded that yes it was going to be hard. LOL.

It's so fun to see those glimpses of what Emi will look like a year or five from now. She's going to be fancy.  I'll let the video speak for itself.

We did discuss our current show plans. JW completely agrees that it's intro for us until the canter falls in to place. I really appreciated getting a chance to discuss it with her. I haven't really been that excited about showing intro again but after talking about it I'm going to take her out at least once more this season and see if we can nail two solid tests.

Side note, although kind of related. Friday marked a year since I took a lesson on Cardi. It was pretty neat to be able to take a lesson on Emi exactly one year later.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rock Star

I was in the middle of writing a great recap from our clinic this past weekend when a spider came running across my bed...this led to me putting on my spider hunting boots, stripping my bed and grabbing the vacuum. Finally tracked down the spider and I'm heading to bed. Instead of my recap (I'll finish it tomorrow), I'll leave you with some video stills from the weekend. Emi was a rock star!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 10

Questions taken from The Horse is Not Black.

1) What are your summer goals?

Wow, this one is a loaded question this summer and I'll break it down by Emi and the farm.

  • Take monthly lessons
  • Successfully show training level
  • Trail ride at least once a month
  • "Cross country" schooling - basically this will be going in the water, popping over some tiny logs and doing banks & ditches. 
  • Ride at Perrydale Trails - we've gone twice but both times were before she was under saddle
  • Go to the beach!
Perrydale Trails with baby Emi
  • Get the outdoor arena put in, fenced and lights figured out. 
  • Paddock
    • Gravel for mud control
    • Get the horses entry into the barn 
  • Fence the side of the pasture that is currently open to the slough
2) Do you have any tips or tricks for fly control?

Repel-x lotion...that's it. It's magical and I use it for both horses on their belly. I also use fly masks and sometimes natural fly spray (Eco-vet or Smartpak brand) although I don't think fly spray works all that well. 

3) How often do you bathe your horse? 

I hose them down when they are sweaty but normally only bathe before a show or something like that. Roughly once a month. I will give Roz a bath or two during the summer, just because. 

4) Do you have any upcoming travel plans? Equine related or not?

As you all know, I just got back from attending Rolex. Besides that, I've got one camping trip to the Steens Mountain this summer but will otherwise be home (working on the projects listed above). 

5) What is your favorite way to beat the heat? 

Honestly, it doesn't normally get that hot here so I don't have a favorite way. 

6) Do you do anything to keep your horse from sun bleaching? 


7) How hot is too hot for you to ride? 

Again, it doesn't get that hot here. We might have a week or less of 100 degree temps. My riding temperature depends on if I have a show coming up. I'd say 90-95 would be my cut off. 

8) How important is sun protection to you riding or just in general? 

Being of Irish heritage and being very pale, sun protection is important to me. I generally wear sun shirts which work nicely. My favorite ones are my under armor shirts. They are super thin and don't make me too hot. 

Stylin' in my sun shirt. 
9) Have you ever gone swimming with your horse? 

Not intentionally. I once had a scary beach experience where my horse was heading out into the ocean...but actually swimming, no. I do think it would be fun but I'm not sure where I could do it around here. 

10) And because shopping is always on my mind, whats on your summer wish list? 

A new trailer floor and new billets for my saddle. Practical for sure! 


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

First Year Under Saddle

Today marks the anniversary of my 1st ride on Emi and I have to brag on her a little bit (or maybe a lot). I can't believe that a year has already gone by. In some ways it feels like just yesterday that I got on her and in other ways I feel like I've been riding her forever. I quit keeping track at 100 rides but I suspect I'm getting close to 150 rides in the first year. I'm super pleased with how easy she has been. I kept waiting for the wheels to fall off the bus...but it never really happened.
Our first ride
Poke ride in July - ride #16
Schooling show in September - ride #32
Two days after the schooling show, our first beach ride - #33
We had a couple of months this winter that were not as easy, I'd say November/December/January. She was spooky and not settled and I was a little nervous/hesitant. The spookiness related to one whole end of the arena, to the point where I couldn't even ride her down there. Some days were better, some were worse. Another struggle area was how lazy she wanted to be and when pushed she was down right unresponsive to your aids.

As the months have gone by all of the above behavior has gotten better and better. I actually think I might have her a little bit too quick at this point. I've realized over the last month or so that she's learning a better response to the whip and is much less likely to buck at it or act snarky. The canter transition is still a work in progress but I feel like she really does everything a coming 4 year old should do. We can walk, trot, canter with no fan fair. She leg yields down the wall or on a circle (at the walk) with ease and is working on it at the trot. I've been spending a lot of time on having control of her shoulders and that's coming along pretty well. As noted above, forward has been installed quite well at this point and she's pretty speedy and prompt off my leg. She travels well, is good on trails (as long as she doesn't have to lead) and is generally a very good citizen. 

So there it is, a quick summary of my first year on the very first horse I've ever started. It's been so much fun and I'm excited to see where the next year takes us. 
Lessons at JW's - #43
More trail riding - #49
Mountain Trail in November - #58

Snotty pony dislikes being spanked - #62 
Heading in to spring and growing in to a beautiful mare. 
March schooling show
May league show
So grown up 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kentucky: Day 5 & 6

I left off at the best two days of Rolex...cross country and stadium.

Cross country was less crowded than I expected and the weather was decent. We started the day with staking out a spot near the head of the lake and then cruising over to the Bliss of London tent for a free hat.
Free hat and free gloves, the muzzle = not free. Haha. 
 I enjoyed our location although it had some scary moments. James Alliston was the first one out on course and had a fall at the Head of the Lake.  There were several other crashes and a few near misses. The good rides were great, the bad ones....took your breath away. Cross country ended too soon and so we hit up the vendors. I purchased Emi a $100 grazing muzzle and also got a free pair of noble gloves for trying on a pair of noble breeches. Score! I have no idea if the muzzle will really work but I'm hopeful!

The master himself

Once we finished shopping we went through the Saddlebred museum before heading to dinner at The Ketch. We received this recommendation from a family sitting near us on the XC course. Once we had dinner we went to the Old Kentucky Chocolate Factory to try bourbon balls. Talk about yummy chocolate!

Sunday we cruised through the vendors (again) this time looking at the Eponia bridles. I was SO close to buying one, but I didn't. It's on my list! I ran in to Stephanie a the Eponia booth (actually she recognized me and said hi), and then I got to chat with Amiee and Karen at their stadium seats. It was fun to meet some fellow bloggers, even though I missed getting to meet several others. 

Stadium was a blast! I opted for covered seats since I didn't want to be stuck in the hot sun or the rain. I was really happy with our seats. We were up high but I don't think there was a bad seat in the house. The energy and excitement were awesome and it was fun to see the culmination of the competition. 

One last yummy dinner (and dessert) at a burger place...I can't remember the name. 
Monday we had to return home to real life. I had a terrible seat mate on our second flight home (the 4.5 hour one). He was taking up a third of my seat and kept trying to talk to me. I would normally read or something but I put my head phones on and watched 2 movies (and was still interrupted 20 times). The guy on the other side of me even wrote me a note on his phone that he would switch with me if I wanted to. I didn't make the trade but squished the nice guy for most of the flight and was so thankful to get off that plane! 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

For Sale

Lavender and mint browband, Cob sized - 15 inch. I love this browband it's just too small for Emi. $35.00
Modeled by Benny
Ariat Audrey flats. Size 8.5. I'd say they run 1/2 a size small. Never worn but super cute! $35.00

Romhf pre-tied stock tie. Lightly used. $25 ($45 new)

Kerrits microcord breeches, size medium. Lightly used. $45.00

All prices include shipping.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beaver Piaffe Show Recap

Saturday morning Emi and I headed out to a league dressage show, at Inavale Farm. This is our closest show venue, otherwise I would have probably skipped this one. Emi was lunged once and ridden once by a friend, while I was at Rolex. I arrived home late Monday night (really it was early Tuesday morning). I rode Tuesday and Thursday, cleaned Emi up on Friday, and headed to the show first thing Saturday morning.

I was originally signed up to ride Intro B and C but felt unprepared for the canter in Intro C. Despite my best efforts on those darn canter transitions they were just not making progress. I felt like the clock was ticking before I left for Rolex and I ultimately asked them to put my in Intro A and B. 

We were the first ride down centerline at 9am. I was running a little later than I had planned and arrived at the show with a little less than an hour before my first ride. Thankfully my horse is a rock star and doesn't need a huge amount of warm up time. We were able to warm up in the competition arena; besides looking around a bit she warmed up nicely. Our first test continued that trend and she put in a solid effort with a score of 67.5%. 

After our first test we had a little under an hour before the next one. I took her back to the trailer and let her snack on her hay for a bit before taking her back up to the show ring. I watched a friend ride her test before heading into the indoor to warm up. Emi wasn't a huge fan of the indoor and was especially not thrilled when an ATV, pulling a trailer with feed buckets hooked over the edge, went rattling by. Next thing I knew the ring attended was telling me that I was in next. Sadly I had an unsettled horse and not enough time to deal with it. Her second test reflected that tension and we scored a 61.875%. We got 2 blue ribbons for showing up as we were the only horse in Intro A & B.
Visiting with her fan club between her tests

I left the show feeling really pleased with my horse. 3 rides in 2 weeks is not the best ever horse show prep, neither is running a little bit late. Although we have yet to put together two good tests at a show I feel like we are getting closer and Emi is gaining some good miles in a low pressure atmosphere.  

So back to the canter transition issue...and the reason I skipped blogging about the last two days of our Kentucky trip.  Thursday I had a really good ride and Emi gave me two canter transitions that were much better than normal. I didn't want to speak too soon but at this point I'm feeling pretty confident we've turned a corner.  I rode her Monday and today and both days I got more of the good transitions. I'd say we are about 50/50 right now (50% good and 50% running) but that is so much better than 100% bad transitions we were getting. I'm thrilled to be seeing some progress. JW told me she wouldn't be surprised if it didn't improve all winter but I was still feeling down about where we were at. I'd love to move up to training level but it doesn't make sense until we have a reliable canter transition...and I think we are getting closer!

On top of that we have a JW clinic next weekend. I'm so looking forward to getting some help and have really been focusing on all of the things I need input on. As it turns out, making a concentrated effort on our trouble areas is already helping us. Who would have thought. Haha. I've been making a mental list of things to talk with JW about. 

1) Canter transitions! 
2) Tracking right she falls in or else she falls out, like full on shoulder popped falling out. Although I know my inside rein can't fix the problem I resort to that as soon as I feel like my outside rein isn't working...which make the shoulder pop out even worse. Last time we rode with JW we had a big problem with this and I just couldn't get it right. The past two rides I've really focused on it and I think we are making progress.
3) How round should I be expecting her to be & when do I push for more? I'm finding that when Emi's tense she really carries the tension in her neck. How do I deal with that? 

I'm fairly certain we are going to get a little bit hammered at this next clinic. Due to a variety of reasons I haven't been taking regular lessons since late fall, so the help I've been getting has only been the in December and one in February - 4 lessons total in about 6 months. That's probably not the recipe for success with an adult amateur riding a 3 year old. I'm so fortunate that Emi is good. That being said, I know that it has slowed our progress down and that I need more help. So, after this clinic I'm committing to a lesson a month.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kentucky: Day 3 & 4

Thursday brought the start of Rolex. We arrived early with plans to shop! A friend had said to visit the merchandise booth first, so that's what we did. I purchased a shirt, hat and magnet before moving on to other vendors. The selection appeared to be pretty good all weekend so I don't think we really needed to get there first thing but from what I overheard it looks like that used to not be the case.

I had so much fun looking through all of the vendors. We have no good english tack stores near where we live so it was so nice to be able to touch all of the things. I tried on a pair of Horze breeches (that I actually liked) but whatever promotion they had wasn't good enough (buy 1 get 1 or buy 2 get 1, I can't remember). As everyone else has already covered, the Horze sales people are SO pushy! I talked to the people that were selling the Green Guard Grazing Muzzles and also a horse hair jewelry place. They showed us the amount of hair they need for a necklace or bracelet and I could easily take that from Emi with out anyone ever knowing! 

I purchased a clearance Mango Bay belt for $9.50 and so far I love it! I also found a clearance fly bonnet in brown and pink for $15. I purchased a few grooming tools 2 wide tooth combs (purchased 1 and then found another I liked better), a sweat scraper, and a metal mane comb. I got a new stock tie, a u shaped browband, and a pair of back up reins. 

Freebies: We got a 2lb bag of horse treats from Standlees which seemed like a great idea...until we realized we were going to have to pack them home! Haha. A water bottle from Lettia,  and another small sample of horses treats.

After looking through all the vendors we walked a little bit of the cross country course. Those jumps are massive! On our way we happened by the Land Rover course so we stopped and went for a test drive. I drove the first time through and then April drove the next time. They show you all of the cool features it has and when you are done you get a free Land Rover hat. It was definitely worth doing and I enjoyed the experience. 

For dinner we hit up Red State Barbecue (recommended to us by Kelly) which was delicious. After dinner we headed to Ashford Stud for a tour. And yes, that's where American Pharoah lives!

Ashford Stud

Friday was a lazy day as we hadn't bought dressage tickets. We slept in and had lunch at the Mellow Mushroom (recommended by Emilie). It was a fun place with yummy food. We then headed out to the KHP to go through their museum and also to do the 5k run. The museum was interesting and it was nice to be able to get in free with our Rolex tickets. The run as also nice and it was great to see more of the KHP. 

I was super bummed this "horse" was out of order!
Happy 5k finishers
Ice cream at Graeters, which I thought was way better than Crank and Boom.