Friday, March 31, 2017

A Great Compliment

Some of you may remember that I took Roscoe to camp to see if I wanted to take lessons at Sprieser. Well after the experience with him, I was definitely willing to go there for lessons. I planned to take him to one while I was on vacation and try for at least one a month. You know what happens to plans sometimes. After Winston (vet cost and burial cost), I could not swing it. That is why Comrade went to camp, though now I am really glad he did.

The first day during the her lesson, Natasha actually asked about us taking lessons. Not sure what Mom and Peggy responded, but Peggy pursued the idea. Later she told me she was working on getting Natasha to come to the farm. Just before the second lesson, Peggy said for three horses she would come. We did not have a chance to catch up with her that day since she had other lessons to teach.
The next day during my lesson with Lisa, she again approached Mom and Peggy about setting up a schedule. So at the end of my lesson, she asked what start time would be good for a lesson on April 12th. I have to get back to her since it is a work day, but seriously how great is that? To me the fact she is pursuing the lessons is a great compliment. I don't think they lack for clients. Plus this can get my Mom and Peggy back into riding. If Mom or Peggy cannot finish a lesson either I can ride or Natasha said she could get on. She is willing to do a semi for both of them and a private for me. I am excited. The two camps have tweaked my riding enough, I feel more effective. And after riding green ponies, that is a good feeling.
I wonder if I should warn the horses...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day two: Adult Camp Comrade

Sunday brought cooler temperatures by like twenty degrees. Much cooler than we expected, but better than the freezing temperatures we dealt with Roscoe. Mom and Peggy set to work on Comrade. They massaged and stretched him, working those sore muscles. Peggy put in his running braid and Mom wrapped his legs. He seemed happier wrapped in the first lesson than just front boots in the second. That will be something to explore at home since I have never wrapped him before camp.
For this ride, Mom had me bring my little spurs to see if they got more reaction from Comrade. As I walked him to warm up, he felt tired. I felt crooked. Which made the first trot, blah. I decided to just stroll around more until our lesson.

Fortunately when I gathered him up, the awkwardness disappeared. The best part about this camp is getting two perspectives from trainers who compliment each other. Lisa built on the work we did with Natasha. Now that he was moving, we worked on straight. I have battled with his crookedness to the left for ages. She had me open my inside rein to invite him to bend, but catch him with the inside leg before he fell in. The change was noticeable. I had even contact in both reins and his hind end was following his front. Similar to the cavaletti work, she had me occasionally activate his hind end with the whip. When Comrade connects his parts, magic happens and he grows. I swear he moves like a 16h horse.

We took our newfound  straight and did leg yields on the long sides. He inverted a little, but overall they were nice and steady. The whip helped remind him to keep his butt moving in the right direction.

Timing the use of the whip is key at points with him. Especially when we moved to canter. She wanted working trot to canter with no running in between. Comrade actually did a super right lead transition the first time. Then the subsequent times were rough. My timing was off or he did not connect right. He did have moments where I could feel the transition was correct, but he could not follow through. With consistency and a smaller circle we did manage another good right lead transition. He needs the strength and confidence to pick it up and carry. His left lead was much better and even had some great sit and push in the transition.

The photo that says it all about this weekend :)

If I can keep my shoulders back and leg long, we might actually get somewhere this year. Overall, I could not be happier. Comrade unlocked a part of himself and reached a new level.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Day One: Adult Camp Comrade

Saturday Comrade and I went to Adult Camp at Sprieser Sporthorse and melted. Seriously, it was crazy hot after the cooler temperatures we have had recently. But through the sweat and red faces, we had a great couple of lessons.

"Uh, how can I break out if I can't reach the clip?"

The first was with Natasha and Comrade really impressed me. All photos are from the second lesson because Mom and Peggy were too engrossed to remember to take pictures. He was willing to work from the beginning. I told her he was out of shape and his issues with his canter departs. She wanted me to work on getting him working from behind by pushing him with my legs forward into the outside rein. Comrade does not want to carry his back and activate his hind legs. Just behind the saddle he has that weak spot which gives him away. I needed to put my shoulders back and ride his butt. Plus lengthen my leg and put my calf on him fully.

At first, I really felt like I was carrying him. Then as he started to lift his back, bend through his body and stretch his neck, he began to carry himself for periods of time. His trot felt amazing and full bodied. If that makes any sense.

We also worked on his downward transition to walk. This too has been a tough one for Comrade. He was western broke and did the sudden, immediate stop when I first started working with him. We have worked that out of him, but he still hollows his back as soon as I ask for walk. So she had me slowly ask for the transition, while wiggling my ring fingers to try and keep him softer. Over the course of the lesson they improved, but definitely need more work.

Finally we attempted canter. I opted to work the right lead first while he had some energy left. It was not a total train wreck, but it took some time to set him up. Comrade was getting sucked into the wall and I was not quick enough to catch it. We had to come to an inside track and try again. Once we managed to get the right lead, she wanted us to do a smaller circle to get him to step under. He still inverted, but that will come. Left lead was better. We worked the transitions for a bit before moving on. She ended the ride with having us ride a big three loop serpentine both directions. That trot was so cool and he was carrying himself for about 75% of it.
Natasha was glad I came back and thought she would see Roscoe again, but was thrilled with Comrade. Comrade was happy with all the people he got to show off for since some of the other riders came and watched. Both of us were dripping in sweat, but what a rush to finish the best ride we have had in seven years.

After lunch and a break, it was time for cavaletti with Lisa. We were paired with the WelshX paint that came the last time. His owner is working toward Second Level this year and he is a cute guy. I had no idea what kind of energy Comrade had left. The heat was taking a toll on me, but we pushed on.

We started out over a fan of poles. Comrade had his moment of "why are there lines on them" and kept going. At first we kept to the inside with the shorter distances. He wanted to pop up a bit and pull through inside of sit and push. A reminder from me helped him start to adjust. As we added the partially raised poles along the perimeter, he tried to be a bit daisy cutter. Lisa wanted him to bend his hocks. Before the poles she had be tap him with the whip to activate his hind end. If I felt him suck back in the poles, I was to tap him. They are great about asking and then letting them be.

Comrade wanted to be lazy, but did not get upset when I said to move on. His work ethic was superb. We ended doing a big figure eight: over the fan, long side poles, middle poles to end poles and reverse.

I had some rider errors that Comrade sucked up well. He felt great and Mom said he was showing great step under. Lisa gave him the love and props he enjoys at the end. She took a picture at some point and sent it to her Mom saying that this was the dream pony of her youth. Comrade gathers fans anywhere he goes. Such a good Cob ambassador.
I was excited to see what our next lesson would bring. Comrade was giving me so much more than I ever expected. He got another shower and a roll in the sawdust afterwards.

"Where is the sawdust?"

"More please, keep going"

Though he complained more than Roscoe about the lack of sawdust. Mom took pity on him and moved some more down. We left him with his hay net and his dinner. His neighbor was a cute Connemara. I guess he was on the pony side of the barn :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Eventing Bingo

Sorry I dropped off. It has been a rush to get my work caught up before taking vacation. Then this random snow/slush mess came along and I spent the night at the barn. After dealing with no heat, darn furnace, I was ready for an early finish. Which means I get to work on my Eventing Bingo story.

So for Bingo Card D, some of this is based on true stories

Owning multiple horses means that some shows have me riding more than once. And this crazy show was no different. DaVinci was up first doing his dressage test. Everything was going well during his training level test and for once my nerves were behaving. Then out of the blue, when we picked up left lead canter, DaVinci jumped out of the arena at A. Why is it again that we don't have a panel covering the opening like the upper levels? As my jaw dropped I circled and reentered to finish. Yeah, a great start.
 Next up was Barry. After the first test I was not surprised we got "Tense" on our judges card. Ah well cross country was our best part. Dressage is just a way to get to jumping. We had a first jump thing though and sometimes Barry took it big. This time I landed on his neck in a heap with glasses askew and stirrups swinging. As I continued on, I realized my chest felt a little jiggly. It seemed I also had a wardrobe malfunction with my zip front bra. Bless my protector vest for keeping the girls somewhat contained.

 We finished well despite my issue and moved onto stadium. My little speed demon seemed to have left his brakes on cross country. Luckily he was highly maneuverable and came back to me in the middle of the course. Sadly, we had a cheap rail at the end. I swear he barely touched it.

So for Bingo Card L

Comrade got to go to a small one day event. My nerves were not great since we have had some rocky rides before the show. And sure enough he became "that" horse in warm up. He was bucking every time I asked for canter. This was going to be a fun dressage test. Surprisingly he must have left all the crazy in the warm up and we walked away with straight 6's on our test. My relief was short lived as we hit the cross country course. First jump good, second Oh HOLY LONG SPOT, so I tapped him with the whip and my lazy Cob decided to fly forward with no brakes in sight. I managed to get him to the next few fences, but he was rolling and went right by one of the fences. Dang it, I had never missed a fence on cross country before. Obviously, Comrade's head was not in the game and we were so far in the hole, I retired.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Jump School Revelations

Roscoe has been working hard since camp and I wanted to give him a mental break. Last weekend our plans were foiled by a storm, but we were able to play today. Mom set up a line and two single jumps.

We warmed up over ground poles and figured out what distance worked for Roscoe. Surprisingly, the best ones were the "stretched" poles Mom set. I guess our short legs make pole setting a little more fun. Once Roscoe was warmed up, Mom put up a couple little "x's," which Roscoe saw as raised poles not worth much effort. We had to tweak the ground rails to suit Roscoe, but overall he adjusted to the distances.
Since that was not a challenge, Mom raised the "x's" and made the second jump in the straight a vertical. The center jump became a baby ramp oxer.
Finally we succeeded in finding Roscoe's jump. He amazed me by smoothly jumping the "x" and cantering forward over the vertical and cantering around the bend. He felt great, but I still brought him down to trot before going over the ground pole - "x" - ground pole series where he gave me another great jump and cantered out.

Of course when we videoed, it was not as smooth. Roscoe would jump in, but get crooked going toward the vertical. What I liked about how he worked was that he made it work. Long spots, close spots, me jumping ahead or being left behind, Roscoe was steady. Video 1
When I pointed him at the baby ramp oxer, he just trotted over it. Lazy pony! When I changed directions, he was not inclined to canter. That's okay, I just tapped him with the whip to keep him active. This time when we approached the oxer, he gave me a jump. Video 2

I was thrilled with the jump school revelations.

Roscoe is super handy
He is not bothered by changes
He is not worried by my missteps
I need to work on reading his intentions
Time to bring out the flowers and decorations
Time to push for more
He is super fun to jump

Hey guys I may have a jumper pony soon!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Green Horse Battles

As expected emotions have been strong in the barn. It is hard when so much brings memories. With all that, there are still horses that need work. And Roscoe seriously tested both Mom and I. He was a spook with Mom when she worked ground driving the day after we lost Winston. I really think he was feeding off of  Mom's emotions. So when I rode him on Friday, I did not know what to expect.
He came out resistant. I tried to to stay firm, but zen. It was tough. Roscoe gave me his foot stomping, high headed giraffe impression. Plus he decided to try and run through my aids.

So I threw canter transitions at him. And he threw bucks at me.

Going to the right he seemed to forget he had a right lead. That created another battle. I tried spiraling him in then asking as I pushed him out. Over and over he kept giving me left lead.

I seriously had to dig deep for that unemotional ride I had at camp. I needed to think and examine. Roscoe was bulging that left shoulder. A bigger bend did not help, so I tried for straighter. He still gave me left lead. I ended up slightly counter bending him to get the right lead.

After that I decided to end on the left. Roscoe gave me one left lead and then just to stick his tongue at me, he picked up right lead going left. Well I just kicked him forward, did a ten meter turn and cantered right.

These green horse battles will happen. Roscoe has figured out it is hard work and he is going to test my insistence. I think things are going to be ugly for awhile. That's okay. Growing up is hard to do.

Sweaty Boy