Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Jumping Exercise

 Out for a hack.
Recently the Other Half bought me Doug Payne's book, The Riding Horse Repair Manual.  Doug Payne is one of my favorite riders and I think everyone needs to listen to him when he talks about giving horses a chance.  I love his whole philosophy, not to mention in person he is a super nice guy that gave me a free xc course walk with him at an event.  Anything he writes, I want to read.  Plus maybe I could get a few ideas to try with Mochi, she is definitely a horse that would fall into the riding horse repair category.  I was happy to find a section on drifters, or horses that drift over fences, *ahem* Klein mare.  She has always drifted to the left, yet she is super handy and maneuverable through bending lines, in and outs, and jumping on an angle.  

I have tried many things including riding with my crop in my left hand, and applying leg because that's really what is going to shove her over where I need her, not pulling the reins.  It's weird, it's just always a habit she's had (that I am sure I let her get away with).  She doesn't try to run out, she just drifts a little.  I'm not consistent enough and I am concentrating on other things as we are jumping around.  I think her drifting isn't as high of a priority as it should be as I'm riding to a fence.  Why not fix it?  Doug Payne's book had a couple simple suggestions, one of which being this set up below:

A 3'3" vertical with a 'chute' of sorts.

This exercise worked like a charm.  He suggests you start with a long approach and leave on a long approach, giving the horse a fair amount of strides to take off straight and remain straight upon landing.  This exercise definitely got Klein's attention, it was kind of funny.  I could feel her start to scoot to the left and then realize " can't?!"  Her over reaction was helpful to me.  It kind of highlighted the problem and made it more obvious when she started to drift and I was able to really put my leg on because there is really no option but a straight approach, unless your horse has zero respect for the ground rail and steps beyond it, thankfully Klein doesn't act like that.  Her over reaction helped me remember to "make a hallway" with my legs so she had no option but to travel straight.  We got a couple odd approaches but then she started to realize what was going on.  Jump - 1, Klein - 0.  It also helped provide the consistent reminder I needed to ensure I was correcting her to the degree she needed.  This exercise will definitely help us rebuild our approach to fences.

I also set up a low, wide oxer that we could get either an uphill or downhill approach to.  


That thing was awesome.  I wanted her to crack her back and stretch out.  I could feel us getting a little more air time over it.  That day I wanted to jump school her and then gallop her because she was in beast mode from the minute we started. The jump school would be a great warm up for a hard gallop later.

Heading out for our gallop/hack. Relaxed and happy after her jump school.

We had a fun hack with some long gallops to satisfy beast mode.

On the dressage front, we worked on a lot of lateral work.  We also worked on balance and togetherness in our sit trot, which has immensely approved over the past couple weeks.  I'm pretty much beyond thrilled with the improvement there.  We also worked on 10 and 20 meter circles at the walk and trot concentrating on making sure Klein's shoulders were traveling where they should be traveling, on the bend, not out in the pasture.  We rode spirals and leg yields and also worked on our balance in our trot to walk transitions. 

In other news, the Other Half had shoulder surgery last week but still managed to save the day when the senior citizens thought it would be a good idea to go for an adventure down the road.  Even with a sling, he had them back on the property in less than 10 mins.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Much Wes Doesn't Care About Clippers

 My guys. 

Sunday Wes had a spa day.  He needed a bath and and a little bit of a clip.  It is still hitting 80 degrees here.  So we gave him half way between a bib clip and and Irish clip.  We would have done more but I know the temps will start to cool off and the nights will be a little chilly.  Wes will probably still think that winter doesn't exist here because he is used to the cold Utah winter and South Georgia is no comparison to that.

 Wesson bath time!  He loved his warm bath.

 I threw one of Klein's coolers on him.  You can't tell because I'm blocking the front of the cooler, but an 84 doesn't quite cut it when you're 18 hands.

Wes stands like a statue for pretty much everything, I took a video while the Other Half was clipping him to show just how true that statement is:

 It now has been nine months since Wes came home.  It still hasn't sunk all the way in that he is all mine.  I guess eight years of waiting doesn't wear off over night, or in nine months.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Combined Training Show, With Some Rider Error

Our show went well, except for some rider error on my part.  I feel like I let Klein down but I really couldn't be happier with how she performed.  We had the best dressage warm up we have ever had and she was immediately in beast mode during our jumper warm up.

My *ahem* professional groom.

After sharing some Doritos together, they were going to share nap time too.

I really didn't think that some of the things we learned in our dressage lesson last week would sink in just yet being as they aren't quite habit yet.  But something hit home with the two of us because we had it together.  I did feel like some of her departures were a little delayed so I had the Other Half hand me my dressage whip.  True to form just having it in my hand made the delay disappear.  Normally she tends to run from the whip a little bit.  At the last show I thought I made a bit of a mistake by taking it in with me for one of our tests.  Yesterday I really felt like, for the first time ever, she was settled with it in my hand.  I took it in for my test and I never felt like she was tense or running from it.  So that's a small victory.

I seriously can't even...  She was ready to get down to business.

What didn't turn out as I planned is that for the first time in almost four years she picked up the wrong lead during a test.  She only does what I tell her to do so it's not her, I was off in how I asked through my balance or timing of the aid for some reason, who knows.  She is good with her counter canter and never breaks for it, can hold it for as long as I ask her to and balance in it, and that bit me in the ass yesterday.  I didn't correct the lead when I should have and we lost some basic marks for it.  Other than that Klein went the best she ever has.  So unfortunately we came out with a 45.1 which after adding back the marks we lost with modest scores would have most likely put us around a 35.  So, there goes my baseline from the R judge.  But guess what?  We show in front of an R judge next month.

Lengthening across the diagonal.

Another thing...I have looked up in either USEF or USDF rules (I can't remember which one exactly, it was a while ago) about saluting during a dressage test while in a military uniform.  A military salute is authorized for those in military uniform.  I have done it at recognized USEA shows with no issues.  I wore my service coat yesterday and I saluted the judge with a military salute.  I could see her face twist immediately and she actually wrote a comment on my test to NOT do it.  Oooook.  Maybe she is just super traditional.  My service coat confuses people too.  There will usually be one person or zero that actually know what my service coat is.  I will get a billion questions like "Oh did a family member give you that?  Are you ROTC?  Where did you get that, it looks great?!"  When I say I'm IN the Air Force and it's MY personal uniform they usually give me a confused look.  A lot of people don't realize you can be in the military and have horses.  Most of them think when I say that, I mean I WAS in.  Then I have to tell them, no I've been in for eight years, I'm still in, my horses go everywhere with me.  So the judge might have just genuinely been confused.

Anyway, just check this girl OUT!  This was a clip from our warm up.  This alone and I was like "Ok, I'm done, we can go home now, how can she top that trot?"

We had a lot of admirers come by to ask about her and she was showered with many kind compliments.  Some people said that was their first dressage test they have ever watched a Percheron perform and they had no idea they were capable of such a lovely test (because it was lovely aside from my mistake).  I was so proud of her, and she knew it.  She knew she was too, I can just tell by her mannerisms by now.  After seven years together, starting her, and doing all of her training by myself, I know this girl.  She was enjoying herself, having fun, and giving her best.

Klein warmed up ready to go for stadium.  Pretty funny, a car full of people was driving right by the warm up one of the times we were about to jump the 3'3" vertical and every single person was glued to the windows to watch. 

The course was tight, which I expected knowing who designed it.  We came expecting a road course of a stadium.  We work on things like that at home too, rollbacks, in and outs, tight turns, etc...

Our course map.

Klein was game for the challenge as usual.  I tried to use the corners as much as I could to give her as much runway as possible.  Unfortunately I let her jump a little left coming downhill over 5b.  I didn't give her enough room and cut the corner a little bit from 5b to 6 and got indecisive.  I usually can see a distance but I didn't see that one and for the first time ever in a show, she stopped.  It really caught me off guard because she is not a stopper, but that was 110% my fault.  I got her into a questionable spot and was indecisive of where I wanted her to leave from.  I got what I deserved.  I let her down.  If I would ride correctly, she would have went correctly.

I was really caught off guard by that because that's not something I usually have in my mental contingency plan.  It will be from now on, just in case!  I did a half assed circle and had to adjust even that and come around where she could have the most room and of course she popped right over it.  She wasn't looking at that jump.  She was listening to me.  I guess we will tighten up some of our turns at home too so I can give Klein a more proficient ride.  The Other Half said he could hear people gasping as they watched us around the rest of the course before my bauble.  People were seriously impressed with her.  

 Coming over 5b to the left when it should have been the right, oops.

Afterward  I made sure to treat her like she just won Rolex and tell her what a perfect pony she is and give her extra granola bars and belly scratches.  The rider wasn't all there for the show yesterday but damn, my horse sure was.  I started to feel pretty disappointing in my mistakes but the Other Half reminded me that I said myself after the dressage warm up I'd be happy with loading up and going home right then and forgetting about everything else.  He was right.  My horse was AWESOME.  Sometimes I am hard on myself.  I will critique my every step.  Even with CrossFit, I had to learn to let go of some of that OCD behavior.  I tend to look at the small picture and not the BIG picture.  Instead of thinking "wtf is my problem, I know better than that, I let my horse down, how could I do that?" I realized "Wow, seriously?  It's a fun local show that doesn't count for anything, you didn't pay $600 plus to attend, Klein knows how wonderful she was, you had minor mistakes that could have been much worse and atleast you know it's you, not your horse, shit happens to everyone at some point, you know this."  Thanks to the Other Half for helping me to see that.  I immediately stopped trying to rule myself with an iron fist and appreciated a fun day with my husband and my Heart Horse at a show with friends, beautiful weather, my horse going nicely, and went back to treating Klein like she just won the Powerball lottery.  Anyone that would be disappointed with that is an ahole.

After we got back to the barn, got Klein unloaded and turned out, the trailer unhooked, the Other Half took me out to an awesome vegetarian dinner complete with a big, tasty margarita.  Winning.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Epic Dressage Lesson.

Last Sunday we went for a dressage lesson and it was by far the most work I have ever had to do in a dressage lesson.  It was tiring, but so worth it.  We got some great insight to what direction we need to be heading in as well as some real homework.  I was serious when I said we are going to re-wire our dressage.  Basically I have to be more consistent with more correct aids so that Klein learns them and understands what I'm asking her and we begin progressing from the point we are at.

 Klein was ready for a nap after our lesson.

One major thing that had me working so hard during our lesson was driving with my legs, making sure that they were in constant conversation with Klein.  Our instructor also had our sitting trot looking better within five minutes through having me control it more with my abs and seat.  This instructor is really in tune with every exact muscle I need to use to get Klein to do what I ask.  I completely controlled her cadence and stride with my abs and seat for our sitting trot. 

Another thing we worked on is our leg yielding.  We worked on straightness and making sure that Klein was traveling on a diagonal line.  We spent some time coming down the center line at C or A and leg yielding at the trot to E or B.  We also got her working more through than I have ever felt her.  She was lifting her back to the point where it felt like she was about to use the bathroom.  I saw the muscle along the top of her crest flex from her poll to her wither.

Wednesday night the moon was pretty much full and we wanted to go out for a moonlight ride.  A great theory.  It was partly cloudy that evening, of course.  It was still such a gorgeous evening, 76 with a slight breeze.  I couldn't pass that up.  I took Klein out anyway for a bareback hack in the dark with a friend from the barn on her mare.  Klein was chilling out on the buckle the whole time.  She didn't care about walking around in the dark.  We went through a wooded area and into a pecan orchard.  A pasture borders that pecan orchard and some horses ran up to the fence in the dark and Klein didn't pay them any attention.  I could BARELY see anything but we are familiar with the area so barely being able to see wasn't too big of an issue.  Plus, Klein is so grey now she actually looks like a ghost horse walking around in the dark.

Back from our ride in the dark.

On the way back we heard what sounded like running water as we walked by a house, then the rain hit us.  It was just a light sprinkle and with the breeze it felt pretty good.  It only lasted a couple mins.  It was just a really nice ride.  It is unique rides like this that are so much more enjoyable when you're on a horse like Klein.  I don't have to worry about her during rides like that, she takes care of us both.

Tomorrow we are competing in a CT at Training Level.  It will take a little bit to actually implement the things we learned last weekend so I clearly don't expect any big adjustments for tomorrow's dressage test.  We are just going to enjoy some nice weather at a nice venue.  The judge is a very well respected and reputable "R" judge.  So I am going to treat tomorrow's dressage test as a baseline gauge and see how much we can improve from now until next fall.

 Pony prep this evening for tomorrow's show.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Our Regular Training...

I'm glad you guys enjoyed the slo-mo video.  The Other Half said he'll take some more.  I really need to get a tripod attachment for my 6 too.  That will help for the times he is not out there with me.

First check this out, someone on a FB draft group actually has a picture of Klein's great-grand sire Lo Lynd Joe Laet:

This week we did more dressage work, gallop work, and jump schooling.

For our dressage work we spent some time focusing on counter canter and lengthenings.  Specifically for myself I worked on consistent driving aids. 

I was reading something from Jane Savoie about not leaning back for them.  I was told once a long time ago in a lesson to think of riding your horse up a hill and I think that has given me a tendency to lean back while riding a lengthening, which is not necessary.  Jane said she had a habit of it and while competing did some beautiful lengthenings but was shocked when her test came back with extremely low marks because of it, which in turn made her aware enough to never ride like that again.  I made a real effort this week to make sure I was upright during lengthenings and Klein felt just as good as she usually does and it actually felt a little easier.



We also worked on trying to get a little more engagement.  I could feel Klein really reach into the contact a couple times, more than she usually does.  I could also feel her back lift and a little more spring in her gait.  We have a dressage lesson tomorrow, I'm looking forward to that.

In the middle of the week we went out for a hack with some gallop work in it to a) let Klein have a mental break and b) also get the benefit of gallop work, which Klein loves anyway.  She was happy to fly down the lanes of the Pecan orchard and hack around the lake.  I never ever keep her confined to a ring for more than a couple days at a time.  I feel like that is mentally debilitating for them honestly.  Let your horse go out and relax on a hack and not have to focus or become bored by repeatedly riding around the same ring.

Yesterday I did a little mock CT ride on Klein.  We did dressage for about 35 mins and then I switched tack and we rode a 3'3" course.  We jumped a vertical a couple times like we would in warm up then rode the course and called it a day.  Klein was great, didn't touch a thing.

There were two in and outs, one with verticals and the other with an oxer and vertical, then verticals and another square oxer that we approached both from the uphill and downhill as well as bending lines.  Klein is getting pretty handy at 3'3" and 3' really is a thing that has faded into the past.

The lone square oxer.

 In and out with the verticals.

 Another vertical.

 Happy Ponyface after jumping.

The Princess.

The Princess, who is also the best at standing crooked.  She does stuff like this all the time like it's nbd.

I brought The Handsome in after our ride so I could love on him for a while.


Spoiling him some more.