Monday, August 25, 2008

1st Day of School

Bleeeeech. I'm back on campus, sitting in the library, just about to log into my college account. I do well at school, don't get me wrong it's just - It's so time consuming and I really don't have any plans to get a degree at this point so it's sort of pointless. My parents want me to take some classes. Just think of all the precious riding time I'll be missing because of school!! Actually, it's not so bad because - like I said before - my schedule allows for 5 rides each per week for my own horses and a couple rides per week on Sackett and Lindsay's horses. But still... yuck!! *Gearing up to log in* Here goes......

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jumper Infamy

Wow, do I have the stories to tell... And unfortunatly no pictures to go with.

Yesterday was a LONG day. We went to the Como Zoo with my 8 and 5 year old cousins. The zoo was interesting (I've been there quite a few times) and I very much love the conservatory. Charissa was quite enthralled with the Japanese Garden. THEN we went to ComoTown, a small kiddy sized amusement park. Uuuuugh... We were there for FIVE hours. And of course, KRISTIE has to go on ALL the rides, most of them spinny rides. I don't handle spinny rides too well. We did the swings, the little roller coaster, the tea cups, the pumpkins, the frog hopper, the train, this weird ride that went up and down slow while you shot water at fake fire, and OH the bumper cars. Ian, the younger of the two, is more or less a wimp and wouldn't go on many of the rides. But he would go on the bumper cars (go figure), and since he is only 5 I had to go with him as the adult. But the bumper cars are very small and I really couldn't fit that well, so every time someone bumped us my shins would smash up against the front of the car. And we went on them over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. I was motion sick, tired, and cranky by the end of the day. But I didn't let on the cranky part.

TODAY I particpated in my first jumper schooling show. Here is the tale:

To start off, I have two things to say : 1) I'm glad I have no problem laughing at myself, and 2) Sometimes Sackett is too good for his own good!! He he. Yes, so I went to my first jumper show today. Sure, it was schooling show, but you've gotta realize that I know squat about jumper shows and that it was an incredibly confusing ordeal for me. Signing up for classes was a mess because I didn't know what things like the roman numerals "I" or "IV" meant, I had no idea that some of the classes were optimum time (and never found out what that time was!), and I accidently signed up for a jump off class, which I had not wanted to do (I switched classes). Figuring out and memorizing the courses was also a bit of a hassle.


So I entered into a 2'6" optimum time class and a 2'9" speed class (to avoid the jump off). My 2'6" class went super good and I ended up getting 4th place out of roughly 15 people. I was just tooling through it without really trying to go fast or hit the optimum time. (Because I didn't know the optimum time anyways) It was the 2'9" class that was interesting.


It started off with a verticle, four strides to another verticle, a sharp left turn to a square oxer, then another sharp left turn to a verticle. You were then supposed to do a SUPER sharp roll back turn to the right to a skinny verticle. The verticle with the roll back turn after was set very close to the arena fence and you only had about a stride and ahalf of space to get your turn in before the arena fence. I'd say the arena fence was about 4 feet.


So I'm going through the course, trying to get my speed on a bit. As I'm going over the verticle with the roll back I more or less "forgot my lines" and couldn't remember if I was supposed to turn left or right. I landed and Sackett went straight. During that stride I realized that I was supposed to turn right and so I began to open my right rein when I realized (oopsy) that Sackett had locked in on the arena fence!!! He was completely committed to that fence and was attempting to jump it the same time I was attempting to turn right. SO he did a stumbling leap over it, nocked it half way down, and stopped while straddling the fence. I actually didn't fall off, but I jumped off right away because I thought Sackett might freak out straddling that half demolished fence. But he didn't, he just stepped through it, pulling it down the rest of the way as he went. He wasn't in even the LEAST bit phased.


As soon as everyone found out we were ok it was pretty much a roar of laughter. The judge let me finish the course (my turn was VERY nice the second time) and it finished out ok even though we didn't place of course. I had several people tell me afterwards how "cool" or "awesome" it was to watch! Rocky told me that when I realized he was going for it the best thing to have done would have been to just gone with him, but I obviously wasn't thinking too fast at the time. *sigh* My first show and I'm already infamous for destroying property!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

*Gulp* Fall Schedule

Wow... I just sat down to figure out my fall schedule as close as I can for right now. I think I have it pretty much exact now and I've gotta tell ya... It's pretty crazy. I'm going to be working roughly 30 hours a week, taking a full college load, 2 jumping lessons on Sackett, I've planned out 2 lessons a week on one of Lindsay's lesson horses, and one lesson a week on Grady. (Love to take two on Grady - it would certainly be the ideal situation - but my finances are stretched as it is...) I also have my life scheduled out so that I will be riding both Grady and Isis five times a week. SO that's five rides per week on Isis, five riders per week on Grady, two rides per week on Sackett, and two rides per week on Lindsay's horse. I'll be going non-stop 24/7, but that's the way I like it. Although I'd prefer if school wasn't in the schedule! I should have my entire schedule verified and solidified by the middle of next week.

I had a lesson on Grady yesterday. It went quite well, and I was really happy because it was the first lesson with Lindsay where he's been really naughty. I know I've mentioned before that Grady will "pick a spot" to spook at and generally be difficult about. Well, yesterday he finally picked a spot. BUT the major difference was that Lindsay actually got us worked through it! It took alot of hard riding and guts... Grady was doing his leaping, plunging, bolting ****. I did lots of small spinning circles and lots of strong pushes from my seat while driving like a crazy person with my legs and whip. BUT let me tell ya, we worked him through it. By the end of the lesson Grady wasn't misbehaving anymore. He was also quite stiff and resistent. Rather than going forward in flowing happiness he was stiff and tight in his neck. Lindsay basically had me go till he gave. Basically we picked up a big canter, I held my hands wide, and I rode Grady forward, forward, FORWARD!! And he did indeed eventually give up and work correctly. So I was very happy with the lesson because Grady demonstated both of our major issues and we worked through both.

This morning I rode Grady before my jumping lesson. I took him out to the XC course and we trail rode for about 20 minutes. Then I took him out into an open area to do some work. Being out in the open like that Grady wasn't spooky, but he was doing the tense choppy gaits and stiff neck again. So I did the same thing that I did in my lesson, I rode him forward fast and hard, hands a little wide, and just kept going. It took a good 25 minutes to accomplish the job in my lesson, but today it only took about 10 minutes. The difference was amazing... We were going along, stiff and tense, and all of asudden Grady just relaxed through his neck and back and his body started to work with swing, rhythm, and relaxation. The difference in the ride was simply amazing and it was such a quick, drastic change. He literally just gave up. I cantered one large loop around the field in that nice canter before quitting.

I had my jumping lesson after, and that went really well also. We worked on jump combinations with different striding and turns. I'm getting much better at rating the speed between jumps and finding my distances. Rocky set up the jumps at 2'10" and 3 feet... And then didn't tell me until afterwards! I had no idea I was jumping 3 feet and I never really looked at the jumps and thought "that looks bigger." Rocky has been making the jumps bigger and wider so imperceptibly that I don't even notice. At the end I did a course that to me felt kind of sloppy, although not incorrect. Rocky said that it was actually really good because I had my timing right through the whole thing. She said to keep in mind that when you're doing a 12 jump course it's so fast that you don't have time to make each jump a perfect jump. She said that pretty much all stadium courses have a "messy" feel to them simply because you're moving so quick and simply can't be perfect over every fence. But she also said that even though it feels a little messy and awkard to the rider, it generally looks smooth to the audience. I'd never thought of that before, so I thought it was an interesting insight.

This afternoon I went to a tutor training session. *ahem* I was more or less told that I HAVE to pick up an extra shift as a supplemental instructor for an english class. That was the thing I definitely didn't want to do and I had to re-work my life to make it fit. I'm actually ok with it though, and I actually like my re-worked schedule better. Plus I get more hours. Anyways, so it all worked out. I also stopped and picked up a new whip at the tack store, I broke my old one yesterday while I was mounting Isis. It got caught on my shirt and snapped!!

This evening I rode Isis. It was a great ride. I've been thinking about how awesome Grady feels when he's working the way Lindsay wants him to, and I was thinking that I'd like it if Isis would feel that way. Isis and I have been at sort of a down point in our riding... It just hasn't felt that great lately. I felt like she wasn't reaching firmly to the bit and that her strides were short and lazy. For whatever reason, our dressage has just sucked lately. So I decided that I was going to duplicate Grady's feel in Isis. And boy was Isis PISSED. She had to go firmly on the bit and work alot harder than what she's had to lately. She threw her head in the air and put up a heck of a fight. I kept riding forward, driving and asking, driving and asking. Finally she gave in - and suddenly she too was solidly on the bit, very round in the back and powering forward. I most definitely had my mare back, and she was even better than ever before. Her lengthenings and medium gaits were phenominal and get this: Her first leg yield was perfect. I had been blown away by the fact that all my leg yields on Grady were great in my lesson... I had wondered what the difference was that made my infamously bad leg yield suddenly work like a charm... And I decided it must be this bigger, more forward, and more powerful horse. So whatta ya know, Isis's leg yields worked like a charm too. I can't even begin to describe how much I love Lindsay right now!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dressage Fest Pt. 2

Aaaah, I'm still very busy. I had an awesome jumping lesson monday and did my first 2'10" course that felt smooth and well ridden all the way through. Yay! Isis also has been doing well and Grady had Monday and Tuesday off. I have been going through the training for tutoring this week. There's a manual and lots of homework, so I've kind of been doing school before school. But that's ok, I'm enjoying it and it's getting me back into the mindset. I've been going to training sessions also, which is interesting. I worked through two chapters of the manual earlier today and have my homework done for those two chapters. I'm going to work on more tomorrow after the training session. I also got some hours added, which is nice but squeezes my schedule a bit. I think it will be ok though, and I'm pretty confident that my fall schedule will work out. I hope to finalize everything later this week.

Anyways, so to summarize the rest of the show... It was a great time. We went out to eat quite a bit (way more than I would normally) and everyone is super fun to be with. Lots of laughing and joking. Lindsay is young enough that she can join in and act the part of a college age person!

Sundays classes didn't go as well for anyone. Grady was tired and grumpy by then, and although I felt the tests went alright, we were with the low scoring judge so we didn't get that great of scores. Here's what I didn't understand though: For our first circle to the right someone started their car and started to move RIGHT next to the arena. Grady caught it out of the corner of his eye, spooked, bolted, did a rearing pirouette thing, and turned to the left. So not only was our circle bad, we also went off course. But we got it together right away and I felt that everything else went very well. I was expecting a 2 on that circle and decent scores on everything else. But instead I got a 5 on it (what the heck) but I also got fives on pretty much everything else... So I'm really not sure how one justifies a 5 on a terrible, off course circle but then gives fives for everything else too. *shrug* Oh well. Even though the scoring sucked I am super, super proud of Grady and extremely happy with my new barn and trainer.

I wish I had time to go into more detail but I'm working through more tutoring homework and am hoping to also clean my boots tonight SO I think I'd better leave it at that. There are lots of fun details that I could add such as funny jokes and Wim Foekema (fricking AWESOME Grand Prix rider) trying to trip me as I'm carrying a bucket of water... Hopefully next time I'll have more time to add those sort of details.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Otter Creek Dressage Fest

This past weekend I went for my first dressage show with my **NEW** barn. It was amazing!! I had so much fun and I really love the group. We left Friday around noon. That morning I went and clipped Grady and gave him a bath. I gotta tell ya, it is NICE to have a wash rack. My old barn didn't have one so I had to give baths in the yard and that wasn't very fun. So yes, I am enjoying the wash rack alot. I trailered Grady over to Pferde Farm and helped everyone over there finish up getting ready. Then we left... The show is in Wisconsin, about two hours away. The drive ended up being closer to three because we got stuck in stop and go traffic for 16 miles. So we got there (Otter Creek has built an awesome new barn by the way) and set up shop. We had 8 horses and three tack stalls. (It's GREAT to be in a group!!) We rode our horses that evening in the show rings. We went in groups and Lindsay rode alot of horses, but she coached Taylor and I. Taylor is another girl from the barn and she always has phenominal tests. Her horse is as steady as a rock AND a pretty mover. This year she's competing in Training level but will move on to 1st Level after the regional championships this year. (Which she so qualified for, and will probably win) That's good because next year I'll be showing Grady at Training Level again so that way she wont be beating me to the blue ribbons! She's awesome though, she's actually how I found out about Lindsay.

Our ride Friday night went very well and Grady was absolutely perfect. I can not believe the progress we've made in TWO WEEKS! Two weeks! After everyone rode they hung out in the barn, but I went back out to the arenas to watch Lindsay school her Grand Prix horse Rannoch. It was very interesting (we had some private conversation about dressage training) and I also hiked the XC course a bit while we were out there. Then we dropped in at the near by biker bar for supper and then went back to the barn to braid. I braided Grady and another horse as well since I'm pretty good at braiding. We didn't get to the hotel until after midnight and we pretty much crashed. I was in a room with Lindsay, Katelin (not sure how she spells her name), and Jen. We're all still younguns so we had quite a bit of girlish chattery talk going on.

We got up at 6 and chocked down the absolutely disgusting continental breakfast. My first ride was at 8:27 so I got on at about 8. There were so many people riding from the barn that Lindsay couldn't give individual attention or make sure all of us were coached all the time, but I was cool with that. Lindsay also rode three horses herself. Our first test (Training 1) was ok and we got 60%. The score was what I figured I'd get and I was happy because Grady didn't do anything majorly stupid. The judge was sitting in a white van and Grady hates white things so we got shaky when we'd go through the C end. But I was happy with the test over all.

Our second test (T4) was at 11:57 and it was by far one of the best tests I've ridden on ANY horse, not just Grady. He was solid through the whole test. However, we had a different judge and she was scoring EVERYbody low and we only got a 62.8% on it. I was bummed about the score but took comfort in the fact that pretty much everyone was getting very low scores. There was literally waves of discussion and grumbling up and down the barn isles about the judge. Her comments were quite negative as well. No matter what the score though I was very very happy with Grady. He absolutely trooped through the day and was just great.

Well, my break is almost over and I need to get back to work, so I'll have to finish the story of the show tomorrow because there's alot more to tell. But I took some pictures of one of Lindsay's Grand Prix tests so here they are. I don't have pictures of my rides yet because Taylor's mom was taking them and hasn't gotten them to me yet. Rannoch is not Lindsay's first FEI horse, but she's the first horse Lindsay has started as a 3 year old and trained all the way to Grand Prix.

Extended Trot (Lindsay was unhappy with her extended trot)
One tempi




Monday, August 18, 2008

Dumb Blog

I have lots of exciting things to talk about (lessons, shows, etc) but the blog keeps telling me it's having "internal errors" and can't upload pictures or anything. SO hopefully this blog will get published...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

*shakes head* UNBELIEVABLE

Alot of my August titles are things like "WOW" and "WOOHOO"... Well, I have good reason for it... That's how this month has been!!

I had another lesson today and it was phenominal. Grady got right down to business and wasn't naughty once. He was forward, powerful, obedient, and awesome. Lindsay is absolutely amazing...

There are two children here yelling, screaming, and wanting me to play with them. Did I mention that my 5 and 8 year old cousins are visiting? They're tons of fun, but I can't play with them ALL the time... I get exhausted.

Michael Phelps is still on a roll.... Yessssss... He is SO hot!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Wow... You know, it's really hard to describe what my life has been like for the last couple weeks. Really, really amazing. Aaargh, this is one of those times where I have all sorts of emotions, thoughts, and feelings bubbling up, but it's hard to put into words and nobody can quite understand anyways. Where to begin??

As a teenage horse person without alot of income (and with parents without alot of income!), the accomplishments I've made so far have been largely through my dedication to this "horse thing." I've already expressed my annoyance with the equestrian situation... The most successful riders are generally the ones with the most money. And as I've said before, it is and has always been my goal to break that rule and then figure out a way to help others break that rule.

I was so discouraged though... This past year I was in a really bad place, just go back to past posts to see what I mean. I didn't have any of the things I needed to succeed: a dedicated coach that actually invests in students and goes to competitions, upper level horses to learn on, connections (important!), and I wasn't getting the help I needed with Grady. I'm not a bad rider, I'm not a wimpy rider, but I just didn't know what to do with him.

This summer has been the most amazing summer though. I finally put my foot down and said "enough!" I finally decided that I was done in the current situation... I was frustrated, depressed, confused, and even a little angry.

But now... I can't even describe how wonderful this last month has been. I feel like my riding career is finally falling into place, it's finally here!!! So far Lindsay has been wonderful and in a few weeks time Grady is better than I'd hoped he'd be over several months! Not only is that exciting in itself, but I feel like I've finally got a real coach. Someone who is invested in her students, someone who competes and brings her students to shows, someone who is invested and interested in her student's progress, someone who has connections, someone who demands commitment from her students. I HAVE A REAL COACH!!! Before my first lesson she told me that if I'm going to be her student that I have to give it my all... This is it... It's what it's about. That's what I want demanded of me. That's the kind of pressure I want... It's how it should be. And she demands dedication... She wont give one lesson a week, if you're her student you have to study with her... You have to be IN dressage. It's what I've always wanted, and it's what I've finally got. Plus I will also be riding a lesson horse... I'm going to start on a horse that is schooling 3rd Level and is solidly showing 2nd. Lindsay wants me to get my solid 2nd Level back before I ride a horse that's more advanced. It's hard to describe how this feels - I am on my way!!!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

WOW!! (Phelps)

Bad news, Becky Holder's first Olympics ended with refusals on the XC course. It's too bad, but her international career is just starting. Now... Moving on to the topic of the guy I've had a celebrity crush on for about 5 years... Michael Phelps! WOW!!!!! Was that relay last night awesome or what?? I was screaming like a lunatic and it took a good ten minutes for my adrenaline to level out. Wooohoo!!!!

I took Grady for his first solo trail ride ever yesterday. He was pretty good, we had one odd moment of naughtiness where he started to do that signature spin and rear, but I pulled him around and smacked him with the whip and he got over pretty fast. (Probably remembered what happened yesterday in the lesson!!) He was also scared of a pile of old round bales, but I didn't give him much trouble about that because they did look pretty scary. I just let him go around them snorting and blowing and acting like a dink, alot of horses would.
I rode Isis last evening as well and she was PERfect. It was like the flawless ride, and we got a great off-the-right-leg-legyield on our third try, which is the quickest I've ever gotten one. The bug population is going down so I took her for a trail ride after that leg yield. It was very awesome.
Wow..... I have so much that I want to say but don't have time to say right now. I just need to express all that's going on in my life right now... It's simply amazing. Hopefully tomorrow I'll find time, it's hard because my 8 and 5 year old 2nd cousins are visiting and it's ALL about playing with Kristie when they come to visit!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Weeell, I had my first lesson with Lindsay today.... It - was - AWESOME. My lesson was at 10 so I left around 8:15, driving our rig all the way to Birchbury. I kind of like driving the rig, dunno why. Anyways, so I got there about 9. It takes a solid 20 minutes to get a horse if they're near the back of the pasture (which they were), so you have to allow for that time. I groomed Grady at Birchbury and then loaded him up. He loads just wonderfully now. Basically I point him at the trailer and he walks right in.

Pferde Farm is about a half mile down and off the road Birchbury is on. I had never been there before (I forgot to go the other day to find it) and I was a little worried that I wasn't finding it. There were lots of houses and drive ways and trees... I could barley see the barn from the road, so I'm glad I found it without having to turn around. It was such a quiet residential street!! Pferde Farm is deffinetly a small barn in a small area, but very, very nice. There are lots of paddocks and the barn is absolutely beautiful. It has about 20 stalls plus a wash rack and tack room. Beautiful stalls and the walls were wood paneled. The farm doesn't have an outdoor arena (Lindsay wishes they did!) and I'm not sure where they'd put one... But the indoor is absolutely beautiful. They had both end doors open and the whole place was flooded with natural light so it kind of felt like riding in a covered outdoor.

The lesson started out with discussing Grady's behavior issues. Then she had us walk for maybe ten minutes while she observed Grady. Then we started to work... And when I say work, I mean it!! We started out trotting on a 20 meter circle and we talked about his neck and where it should be, as well as what to do when he gets distracted and looks to the outside. Grady was tense through his neck and through the lesson she had me ride him much deeper than I normally would. She said that at this point we're more concerned about his attitude than we are about absolute correctness, and that she prefers to ride naughty horses a little deeper. She also said that when he's naughty, it's my job to "cowboy through it even if you have to go ****ape on him. There's nothin' classical about it!!" She also pointed out that he's tense, backed off, and lazy - all things that I've known about, but haven't known not how to fix. His attitude makes those issues hard to fix, but he HAS those issues because of his attitude!! So we worked on getting him forward... And did he ever get forward!! I didn't know Grady was even capable of being that big and powerful. I have never ridden Grady where he felt that amazing. We intermixed trotting and cantering the full arena, transitions on a 20 meter circle, and trotting over ground poles. The lesson was 45 minutes and I'd say we got maybe two 30 second walk breaks. Grady was absolutely drenched; he had sweat running down his legs. BUT HE HAS NEVER, EVER, EVER FELT THAT AMAZING BEFORE!!! He had one moment of naughtiness where he started to run backwards and rear up, but I did what Lindsay said and spun him into a little circle and kicked and smacked with my whip until he went forward again. He never did it again.

I am so pumped I can't even begin to describe how awesome that lesson was. For the first time it felt like Grady was WORKING and working happily. THANK YOU LINDSAY!!!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beijing Olympics

The Olympics are here!! Good luck to all competitors... Especially those competing in dressage, eventing, and show jumping!! An extra wish of luck to Becky Holder and her horse Courageous Comet. Becky is a local and common face at MN events. She will be representing the United States in eventing for the first time. She's closely connected to Birchbury Farm, so it's extra exciting!!

Becky Holder & Courageous Comet

I am a HUGE Olympics bum. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Olympics, for as long as I can remember. I remember as a 2, 4, 6 year old girl sitting in front of the TV and watching the Olympics. I automatically get teary eyed whenever I hear the theme song, and I still watch as much as I can. My family has always watched as much as we could and I've always wanted to compete in the Olympics... Maybe someday!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Miners Farm

Well, my lesson on Grady yesterday went well. He tried his sideways spooky, leapy, reary junk several times, but we were able to work through it. Rocky put a martingale on Grady that prevented him from whipping his head down as far as he normally would and that made it more difficult for him to spin down and to the side. I've never seen a martingale like that before, it actually is meant to prevent the horse from putting his head to LOW instead of too high. We worked over ground poles, small cross rails, and a pile of ground poles that Grady thought was VERY scary. The encouraging thing though is that once he got over it once he was willing to go over it again.

Last evening I rode Isis and she was back to her old, brilliant self. Actually, the ride was pretty much flawless, although I didn't push her. I simply did walk/trot/canter, simple changes, stretchy trot etc. Nothing difficult. I'm happy that she's back on form. I rode her again this evening and she was quite good again. I pushed her harder, working on our leg yielding and over all quality. Like I've said before, Isis leg yields flawlessly off my left leg, but tends to try and pop her left shoulder out when leg yielding off the right leg. So we practiced our leg yielding and she leg yielded straight, rhythmically, and correctly off my right leg after a bit of corrective work. So I'm happy with her. Tomorrow I plan to ride her out in a grassy field. It got mown last week so it's actually rideable now.

This morning I took Sackett and went with Rocky and several other boarders to Miners Farm to school XC fences. The farm was quite extravagent, but they only have beginner novice and novice fences, which is fine since that's all I'm capable of right now anyways!! Most other people brought young horses. I was in the second group of people that rode, and I watched the first group fairly closely so I'd get a feel for the course. I also took some pictures, but I'm horrid at timing over jumps. The first group was Jill riding her 4 year old Theroughbred (4th time doing XC) and Mary riding her horse Lola. I feel terrible because I can't remember Jill's horse's name. It's something like Freya or Felda or something like that. Anyways, I also jumped the fences shown in the pictures. The schooling went pretty good. I was with Missy and Avery. I started out pretty good but was a little hairy with my distances at first. By the end of our lesson though I was really cooking. The last jumps we did were also the biggest jumps (novice), and they felt the easiest and most controled. Rocky also said they looked very nice!!
Mary and Lola over a rock wall
Mary and Lola (almost) over a coop

Jill and her young horse over a roll top

Other people rode after our group. Jill had also brought her horse Einstein to school prelim stadium. Rocky recruited several of us to work the fences and she told us where to set the poles. We were confused because the height just didn't seem right but we went with it anyways. Jill was having some mental issues with how large the jumps looked, but she was really doing well and after some successful jumping Rocky said "ok Jill, we're going to lower the jumps to prelim now. You were jumping Intermediate." It was a classic moment, all of us jump people were like "THAT'S why we thought the jumps looked high!!" Jill was just flabergasted. It was great!
After we got home I got Grady and tried my Wintec on him. My County is too small from him, which is annoying. I have my Wintec absolutely as wide as it goes and it's still a wee bit tight on him, although not as bad as the County. I've been suspecting that the County doesn't fit for several months, but my old trainer kept telling me it did. I asked Rocky to check it yesterday and it took her about 10 seconds to proclaim that it IS indeed too small. I'm thinking that I might sell my County and use that money to buy a couple more Wintec saddles. I actually really like Wintec saddles, and amazingly I like the cheapest ones best. I don't like that fake suede stuff, so I bought a Wintec 500 and I really like it. I'm going to call a friend of mine that works at an english tack store and see if they have one of those super wide Wintecs to try on Grady...
Anyways, my ride on Grady was great! I went out to the XC course with Lynn. We began by just walking around, and eventually began to trot and canter. I let Grady follow Lynn's horse Tuesday to start, and that helped him with his confidence. He loosened up and wasn't so tense. After following her for awhile I asked him to go off by himself which made him mad. We had a rather serious discussion about that (Lynn: "Wow, he can have some attitude!!") and Grady gave in. After riding him around seperate from Tuesday for a bit, we went out into a large field and galloped around the whole field both ways. It was the first time I have EVER rode Grady where I felt like he was having fun. We were seriously booking it, pretty much going as fast as Grady was willing to. He really seemed to have fun, and I bet it's the first time in his life that he's been galloped in the open. I doubt he's been galloped at all really. He loved it. Not to mention that we did our first flying change!! He picked up the right lead going left, and I was asking him to slow down to do a simple change. He didn't want to slow down and so was going into a shorter, more collected canter rather than breaking to trot. When I felt this I thought, "hmmm, this seems like the perfect canter for a flying change!" I put my leg back and BAM, he switched absolutely clean. I'm very proud of him!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Subway... MMMMM

Here's a bit of blog advertising:

OK... SO I've still been really busy. I worked all day yesterday then drove straight to Birchbury to ride. The library is half way to the barn so it helps save a little gas to combine trips. Gotta tell you, those $5 footlongs at Subway are a life saver! Lunch and supper, and it's actually fairly healthy...

Grady was *ok* last night. He actually had several moments of extreme naughtiness where he was rotating crow hopping and rearing. I used some of the strategies Rocky gave me at the last lesson and was able to push him through. I asked him to walk over a (very) low cross rail and he was spinning and bolting from it. I did my best to ride him forward towards it, pushing him and not giving him any other option. Weeell, so I'm not THAT great at this whole new style of riding yet, so to start I didn't get him over it. Patty, another boarder at the barn walked her horse over the cross rail for me and Grady followed then. For the first couple cross rails he more or less launched himself over and bucked afterwards, but I didn't really care. He finally started to get over the cross rails and following the other horse was a big help. By the end he was comfortably trotting over a series of cross rails that were set up, and he was basically behaving. So we've still got a long ways to go, but there is hope!!! I have another lesson with Rocky this afternoon, so hopefully she'll have more suggestions for me.

Quick Notes: After my lesson I'm going to drive to Lindsay's barn just so I know for sure where it is. I have my first lesson with her this Saturday, yay!! Tomorrow I am going with a large group of people from Birchbury to another barn with a XC course to school and take a lesson with Rocky. (It's SO nice to have coachs that actually DO stuff with their students!) I will get pictures!! I've been enjoying having this two weeks of time between my old job and when school and my new job starts. I really like just being relaxed and taking extra time with my horses. If only all of life could be this way!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

*phew* Busy!

I very much intended to post both Saturday and Sunday, but I ran out of time. My weekend has been very busy...

Saturday morning I went down to Birchbury to ride Grady. I met up with Missy, a girl a couple years older than me who events. (Almost everybody at the barn events... That must be why it's an eventing barn!) You can't go on the XC course to jump by yourself, so we decided that we'd go out together. She would pop over some jumps and I was just going to walk/trot/canter Grady around. He did pretty well and didn't spook at any of the jumps as we went by. I could tell that our lesson the previous day REALLY helped. I had more control over him and was able to push him past moments of potential naughtiness. I'm very proud of him.

Saturday afternoon I cleaned around the barn and deep cleaned my horse trailer. I scrubbed the walls and pulled out the mats and scrubbed the floors. I also took everything out of the tack compartment in the front and swept it out. Then I went out and did some arena maintenence with my dad.

That evening I rode Isis and something rather baffling occured. Isis, my wonder horse who automtically goes on the bit and is solidly training 2nd Level, wouldn't go on the bit. It was very, very odd. Her neck was down and her head was on the vertical, but she WOULD NOT stretch to the contact. It was a weird feeling, like the horse that I know and love just wasn't there. I rode for over an hour, just keeping my hands steady and doing lots of changes of bend, changes of direction, and transitions. She was very rushy to start, also something that is not normal. I simply kept riding with steady hands and a soft rein and just kept going until she finally came around and was working properly on the bit again. It was a weird and discouraging experience, I even cried a little bit because it kind of felt like I was riding a vacant, distant horse. Atleast she came around...

It was very rainy on Sunday. The original plan for sunday was a Pony Club meeting where we were going to watch a hunter/jumper show and discuss PC rallies. I was really looking forward to this, but with the rain it got called off. So I spent the first part of the afternoon cleaning my room. It ended up into more of a ribbon re-arranging session and nothing else really got accomplished! The plan changed into riding Isis and then going to Birchbury to ride Grady. Then Peg, a good friend of mine and client from my old barn, called me up and asked if I'd be willing to help her for a "half hour" with putting a few fence posts in. Being the nice person that I am, I agreed to help. We ended up starting off by setting up a large round pen to get the panels out of the way for where the fence posts were going to go. Then we started to dig the holes. We had a two person, gas powered auger so it really wouldn't have been a difficult or time consuming task if not for all the rocks!!! We'd go a few inches then have to stop and dig out rocks. Then another few inches then we'd stop to dig more rocks. It took FORever (a couple hours) to get 8 post holes dug. Not to mention that when I was handed the auger my arm hit the exhaust hole and it now has a two inch long burn on it. In addition to the burn, Peg was lifing a post and lost her grip on it - it fell directly on my head and I now have a painful lump. I told her that she is never living this down... I agree to come help and all she does is burn me and hit me on the head with boards.

SO I ended up riding only Isis at 7:30 in the evening. She started out weirdly vacant again, but I just did the same thing. She came around quite a bit quicker and her work was quite nice by the end. But all I was doing was basic walk/trot/canter with a few simple changes. Nothing even close to 2nd Level work, not even really 1st Level work. She WAS working VERY nicely by the end and if she STARTS that way the next ride (like she normally does) we'll be able to get back into working on more advanced stuff again. I am quite baffled on the cause of this, and I'm curious to see how she starts out the next ride. I wont be able to ride her until Wednesday because of my work schedule, but I'll let you know how it goes. As a side note, Isis has her teeth checked twice a year and her saddle was professionally fitted and still fits her quite nicely. I really don't think this is a physical issue, I think it's a training hiccup, even though I have no idea what the cause is.

This morning I had a jumping lesson on Sackett and it went quite well. We worked over low cross rails the entire time and focused on my equitation. I wasn't sitting up enough inbetween fences and I evidently have a tendency to roach my back a bit. I improved a TON in the lesson and Rocky was very pleased. Grady also got his first trim from his new farrier today. This farrier does most of the work at Birchbury and I'm impressed with his work. I also saw Lindsay this morning and gave her my fall schedule so that she could work on figuring out lessons for me. We're going to talk tomorrow morning because I'm hoping to squeeze in a lesson later this week.

In other news, I have decided to drop my Biology class and pick up an online class with equal credits. Then I'll be taking all online classes, which will greatly increase my available time for riding. I really enjoy graphic design and computer work. My first semester I took a class on Microsoft Office and did really well. I am going to be tutoring the subject this semester, so I've decided to sign up for the super advanced word processing class. I've got all the pre-requs for it and I think it will be alot of fun. A four credit class on Microsoft Word! Woohoo! My friend is taking the basic class that I'll be tutoring, so I'm going to borrow his text book for the next couple of weeks to refresh my memory on the class I'll be tutoring. I figure it will also be good to be activelly using the programs I'm going to be teaching anyways, so I'm excited about the class change. I am going to go Wednesday morning to switch classes and get my text books.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Swimming... Pics!!

Last night I rode Isis and took her for a swim after. Lately I've been really pushing 2nd Level work with her. Walk/canter, canter/walk, canter/halt transitions, medium gaits, some lateral work, and just working in a generally more collected frame. However, last night I went back and we reviewed the basics, working in more of a Training level frame and doing simpler work. I find that we make the most progress when I push Isis for maybe a week or so and then spend a couple days reviewing the basics and doing simple work. Then I push her again and the quality of her work nearly always improves. Anyways, so she was hot and sweaty after our ride so I took her for a swim. It's been pretty dry this year so the pond isn't very deep. Oh well, we still had fun. Here are some pictures of our outing, but I look like a retard in them. Just ignore me! Oh, and yes I'm wearing jeans. I ride Isis in jeans alot. I also took off my boots and her bridle and put one of those halter dealios on her. I didn't really want to get any of my leather tack wet. I ride Isis in a Wintec, so I don't have to worry about the saddle!

This is pretty much the deepest spot in the pond right now.
Splashing with her left leg...

... Splashing with her right leg!

Our dog was swimming too, so Isis had to keep an eye on her.
More splashing!!

In other news, this morning I took a lesson on Grady with Rocky. It was AWESOME!!!!! WOOOOHOOOOOOO!!! I fell of twice, but I'm happier than I've been in a long time. The lesson started with Rocky saying "Ok, this isn't a dressage lesson or a jumping lesson. This is a lesson to teach Grady to behave." I was like "YEAH!!" First we worked on a circle and we discussed getting his attention when he acts like he's going to spook. She talked about the fact that alot of dressage riders are afraid to get on their horse's case and over bend them. She was like, "When your horse is spooking IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOUR HORSE IS OVER BENT!! Sometimes dressage riders are so worried about dressage that they forget to ride." So every time his ears would slam forward I would smoothly bring his head the opposite direction of the scary object so he'd have to bend his neck and pay attention to me. Then we worked him over ground poles. The first time we tried trotting he spun and dumped me. The next time Rocky had me really concentrate on sitting up and pushing with my butt, sticking my feet even a little forward. She was like, "Don't be nice to him!! He's a jerk and he needs to learn to go when you say!" So the next time, as he was getting ready to spin off, I sat down and kicked hard. He stumbled over them and then got better each time after. He did the same thing the second time he dumped me. He was just being a jerk and Rocky said that even though I can ride him a little more freely after he's done the right thing a couple times, I still can't trust him. So we worked him for longer than the original plan because of that second stunt of his, but by the end he was cruising over the poles in trot and canter and was responding well to my repremands when he started to get naughty.
It's been the first time in long long time that I truly feel like I have hope for us. Rocky told me that I'm not a wimpy or bad rider, but that I just don't know what to do with him when he's naughty. So we made HUGE strides today with me getting on his case and getting him through it. I don't mind that I fell off a couple times, it really reinforced that I can't let down my gaurd and that I have to get on his case when he's naughty. By the end he was working nicely over the back, paying attention, not spooking or acting like he might, and he smoothly trotted and cantered the ground poles. Rocky said that she has no doubt that we will be able to work through his issues and that we can get our act together. After this lesson, I don't doubt it either...