Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Crazy weather

Got out to the barn a little later than expected today. I was pleasantly surprised when I got there because it was demonstrably warmer there than it was at my house when I left home. I had been prepared to shiver. I ended up riding without my jacket. Hooray!!!

Boo and I warmed up quickly. We worked on contact and connection. I insisted on forward from the beginning, and that helps. We did a lot more canter today than we normally do. He's much better on his right lead, I already knew that. Trainer Tracey was there working some of her horses, and she commented that we looked good. That always helps! At least I know I'm on the right track.

The DH wanted me to check out Bay's blanket before the predicted snow storm. Bay can't seem to keep a blanket without tears in it. It's a duct tape fiasco. I pulled another blanket out of the trailer (during a downpour of hailstones) because, in my estimation, he was in danger of getting wet and cold. I know the DH was hoping not to sacrifice another blanket to this particular winter, but this late snowfall they are predicting was just to much to expect the old blanket to weather. I also put on a heavier blanket for Boo. Just until the temps climb back into the 40's. It's not even really the 30's I'm worried about. It's the 20's and possible teens at night. Boo is 22 this year. He deserves to be warm and toasty. He's also shedding like crazy. Big mistake Boo. You should wait until late March...think he'll listen? I don't.

I'm hoping to get back out to check on the boys tomorrow before the snow flies. It would be nice to get in another ride. I'm pretty sure I won't be going out towards the end of the week. We get snow so rarely here that I don't know how to drive in it and neither do most of the other people on the road. It's best just to stay cocooned at home under those circumstances and leave the road to those who have no choice but to be out there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A weekend full of horses

What to say about this past weekend? It was a whirlwind that's for sure. The DH and I were up and out the door early on Friday to head out to the OHSET meet where Sarah and Baythoven were doing their dressage ride. It was cold so I layered up with silk long underwear, a black mock turtleneck, a fleece vest, blue jeans, and a down jacket. Sitting in a cold barn all day long in previous years has taught me to be prepared. You can always remove clothing if need be. I took a blanket along too. Unfortunately, while I went prepared with the correct clothing to keep myself as toasty as you can be just sitting around in the cold all day...I forgot the one thing that would have made this particular blog entry infinitely more interesting...my camera. So, I'm going to have to tell the story without photos and see if I can't track down a few for a later date. Bay and Sarah did trail on Thursday, and I missed that. Sarah said they did alright, but came in closer to the bottom of the pack than the top. Their dressage test, however, went well. I've seen them do better, but it was good overall. They ended up in 3rd place out of 30 rides. The top score was a 178, the 2nd place score was a 176, and Sarah and Bay received a 172. There was a 20 point drop between 3rd place and 4th place. Since I know they can do better than they did this time around, I think it bodes well for future meets. They did hunt seat later in the day and came in about the middle of the pack. All in all it was a very good meet for them. Since Bay was finished on Friday afternoon, the DH and I loaded him up and took him home. I think he was happy to be there with the rest of his buddies.

Saturday morning we got up early again (although not quite as early as Friday) and headed out for the Clark County Fairgrounds to spend the day at the Washington Horse Expo. We got there in time to see most of the extreme trail competition. I forget the official name. It was a lot of fun to watch, and the DH is interested in doing something like that sometime in the future with Baythoven. They have quite a lot of work to do if they are going to be successful considering Bay's trail scores in OHSET. The DH loves a challenge though, and he set up some cones today to practice cantering a pattern. Both the DH and I surprised ourselves by doing that exercise quite well. We watched a few more clinics. The DH went western and I went dressage. Jessica Wisdom was there to do a dressage clinic, and I picked up a new exercise from her to help Boo get back on his butt and working from behind. I tried that one today and it went well too. We both watched Randy Byers do a presentation on western dressage. I didn't quite get where he was coming from because in my mind dressage is dressage, and it doesn't matter what breed of horse you are riding or what equipment you are using, dressage principles are still dressage principles. Maybe he was saying that as well, but it didn't seem like it to me.

I liked the vendors that were there, but I wished there would have been more of them. We ended up with a great knife sharpening from Benchmark, and two Scentsy pots for my two daughters. I didn't really need any tack. I did find a jacket I really liked, but I didn't NEED it, so I didn't buy it. I'm looking forward to the horse expo in Albany next month. So far I've seen more consistency with that one. I hope it doesn't disappoint me for the first time. I know the economy isn't so great.

My ride on Boo this afternoon was good. He was cooperative, and we get better and better all the time. The perfect horse for me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An AHA! moment

Wow! I am so thrilled with today's lesson. Boo was soft and giving almost from the beginning. I did my usual walking warm up, and he was fantastic. I went ahead and threw some early canter into the mix to give him the message that I wanted him more forward. We still had some trouble with the connection at the rising trot, but mostly on the left lead. Tracey kept telling me I was to far to the right...AHA! It hit me! Boo wasn't being a bad boy! He was trying to stay underneath my ever-shifting body. The poor horse is a saint. Another problem I have is reacting to late when he comes off the bit. I am encouraged even though I am having these problems because I can see such an improvement with the regular practice I've been doing this past 2 weeks. Tracey got on at the end of the lesson and rode him. SHE had no problems whatsoever. She did say he wanted to lean into her outside leg on the left lead, but I think that is just years of habit built up, and he did what she asked when she asked him to move off her leg.

My next lesson is definitely going to be a lunge line lesson. I had thought we would do it this lesson, but the change in his softness was so apparent that we decided to go ahead and see what we would get in a regular lesson. I have my work cut out for me. I am very weak on my left side. I have to strengthen my core and strengthen my left side so that I can use it properly. I need to learn to recognize when I am not sitting straight. When I try to sit more centered it feels like I am sitting all the way over to the left. It feels really off balance and yet when I feel like that I am actually sitting centered. I have to relearn what I am doing because what I have been doing is wrong.

Baythoven left today for his first OHSET meeting of the year. The DH hauled him out this morning. I didn't go with him because of my lesson. We will head out early tomorrow morning to watch them compete in dressage and hunt seat. Hopefully tomorrow's post will have pictures.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunday Stills

Spring and summer 2010

Hibernating mode

I should have gotten out of bed and went with the DH this morning. I had planned to. However, when the alarm went off, I rolled over and turned it off and promptly went right back to sleep. That is what it has been like this winter. I have been having a hard time getting out of bed. I'm not staying up any later. It's just so warm and comfortable snuggled in there under the blankets.

So, I miss out on stuff. Early morning horse stuff. Today it was taking Bay to an OHSET practice at a barn I had never seen before. I wanted to see this place as the DH has said the arena is impressive. I guess I didn't want to see it badly enough to get up, get ready, and go stand out in the cold watching the girls practice for a couple of hours. I could have warmed up by getting back into the truck and reading my book, but I decided against it. Instead I convinced myself my time would be better used here at home reading my fb, by blog, my email, and writing in my journal. I decided to do some of the never-ending chores around the house too. Guess that is time well spent...I did say "never-ending" chores right? So I guess it's debatable whether or not that is time well spent.

This was one of the least exciting horse outings on the schedule (me...rationalizing). Next week is better because it is the actual OHSET competition, and I definitely will be going to that. I also plan to go up to Clark County and check out their horse fair. So, I forgive myself for being weak and lazy and sleeping in this morning. I'll just hope for better luck next week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quality over quantity

It was a cold and frosty morning, but the sun was shining and I knew I would be heading to the barn to spend time riding Boo. On the way out, driving off of the hill where I live, I could see fog over the river down below. I wasn't sure it would bode well for being sunny at the barn, but the fog burned off rather quickly. Once I arrived at the barn I brought Boo inside and cleaned him up rather quickly. I knew I would be a lot warmer once I was in the saddle. I needn't have worried. Just cleaning him up was enough to get the blood going, so I deposited my coat back into the car.

I always try to take my time when I am tacking up. I think it sets the tone for the whole ride. He's relaxed and so am I. Once we worked through a few ground exercises that I do to check out his grumpy quotient, I climbed on and began sorting through everything I could remember from my lesson with Tracey last Thursday. Tracey had told me I wasn't assertive enough. I remembered that when I rode on the following Tuesday I had tried to be more assertive. Even so, he was resistant to accepting the bit until well into the ride. Today my goal was to shorten the amount of time it took to get to that place. That would mean that I would have to be consistently assertive from the very beginning.

I didn't want him to get away with clamping down on the bit without chewing, so I took a peppermint out of my pocket and gave it to him before we even started the ride. Then I took advantage of the flow of saliva that produced to gently move the bit in his mouth. I got him to chewing in record time. I also had his full attention because I'm sure he was hoping for another peppermint at some point. We did our walking warm up and Boo stayed soft and chewing. However, when I asked him for a trot he did his usual. Up with the head, and shuffling forward like an old man. I instantly gave him more leg and a tap with the whip all the while asking for him to stay connected. It took a few minutes for him to realize that if he stayed fairly forward he didn't get the whip and if he gave to the bit he got "GOOD BOY." Still it wasn't quite the quality I knew he could give so I did some transitions from walk to trot and trot to canter. Back and forth we went practicing these transitions in both directions. Throughout the entire process it wasn't good enough for him to give me the gaits I asked for. He had to give me the gaits I asked for while on the bit, and then he had to stay on bit. Quality over quantity.

All in all it was a good ride, and I think I figured something out about Boo. He moves forward more freely if I canter him early on. He needs instant reinforcement when he does not do what I ask him to do. He understands the words "GOOD BOY' and he really does want to please me. As a matter of fact I would just bet that from his point of view he has been pleasing me all along.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Boo's got me trained.

I had my lesson on Thursday. It was a rather disappointing lesson. I ended up going over the same things I did in the last lesson. It was my own fault because I didn't make it out to ride but one time in between lessons. You can't get better if you don't practice. I am still struggling with the winter doldrums, although it is getting better. I went back out today and rode and things went much better. I can tell that I'm not assertive enough. I don't have to get aggressive to get Boo to listen, but I do have to let him know I mean it. I've let him train me for far to long. Hopefully, this won't be something we cannot overcome. I can't ride tomorrow, but I will be back out on Thursday. I've promised myself and my horse that no matter how down-in-the-mouth I get I will be there no less than 3 times a week, and hoping for 4 times a week.

I watched Boo get down and roll once I put him back out into the pasture with his buddies. He can still roll completely over even at 22 years of age. He did it a couple of times actually. He must have really been enjoying himself. I went to get my camera but the battery was dead. It's to bad because the horses were all in pretty playful moods today. It would have been nice to get some shots of them.

Next weekend is Bay and Sarah's first OHSET meet of the year. I'm looking forward to seeing how they do. They started out so well last year. That puts the pressure on for this year! We are also entered in a Dressage show in March and another in April. Things are going to start getting busy around here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

An update

I have a friend who is a wonderful photographer. She asked me the other day if I would like her to do some photographs of Poko, and I jumped at the offer. We got together on Sunday, and this is one of the preliminary proofs she sent to me.
Poko is still hanging in there. She hasn't had another seizure. She was quite happy to have all the attention focused on her. I think that is evident in her facial expression. It didn't, however, take much to tire her out.
I went out to the barn on Sunday afternoon and rode Boo. It was a busy place because the weather was so nice. Boo wasn't to happy that I had shown up right before feeding time. He was pretty distracted by the other horses coming in and getting started on their hay and grain. We rode for about an hour in spite of his sour attitude. He worked up a bit of a sweat. I am not sure how much of that was from exercise and how much was from temper. I managed to control my own temper even though he was being a little snot. I figure it was my own fault for going out at feeding time and not riding for nearly a week.
Baythoven had hock injections done the early part of this week. We are getting him ready for the show season. We want him to be in the best condition possible. I have him on Adequan too. Hopefully all of this will be helpful to him. If not, well, he can ride the trail with the DH. He only has a few more years before we had planned to retire him completely from showing. We'll see if our plans work out or if Bay has a different plan for us.