Thursday, June 30, 2011

Horse Camping at Beaver Meadows

We headed up to Beaver Meadows Resort for 5 days of camping with horses, kids, dogs, and family. We arrived late at night in the rain. It was a little tough as one of our sites was occupied and one of our horse pens was taken down. The horses spent the night tied to the existing pen, eating the luscious grass that grew around the area. I slept like a baby after the long haul up (about 4 hours and much of it in the rain).

Looking forward to a fun-filled trip in the mountains.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dressage lesson #3

Today was a thrill! Gem and I did our first dressage test for the instructor. She called out the pattern and we executed. What fascinated me was that when I got serious about this pattern, Gem totally stepped up to the plate and performed! What an amazing feeling that was. He has never felt quite like that! I'm still buzzing, hours later. I loved it.

Things we need to work on:

1) canter circles - staying straight up and balanced
2) 20M circles- get that circle more round and correct
3) staying in the canter
4) faster free walk

Going to try for my first show in August. Very exciting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kendall rides again!!

She just wanted to. Badly. She's ready to come back and hang out with me on horses. I'm elated!

We started in the arena, then walked around the property a little. She had fun in the arena and worked on teaching Rain to halt w/o reins. Rain already knows this, but Kendall worked on finding it with Rain. She was smiling ear to ear the whole time! She trotted/gaited and cantered around happily. Oh, what a sight.

Z and I played with keeping her nose down and trot/canter transitions. She was confused at first and a little anxious, but she figured out what I was after and did it gracefully. I am now going to be more conscious of building that into her regularly. It's ok on the trail sometimes, but we need to get good at rounding up and getting efficient with movement.

Starlet hung out with us around the property and trotted with us. She's moving wonderfully and I'm so relieved. Her wound is huge and she has a lot of skin to grow, but she's feeling pretty good. Thankful.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 2 - David Lichman

drag on Jess/Kade - helped Gem have more forward so we could play with bending w/o him falling out of the trot.

more natural collection

llama herding - Gem had no fear! He was willing to go forward to the llamas and follow them, no problem.

cantering with collection - we worked on this for a while, but Gem is a short horse and I have to build more gait maintenance into him.

Simon - we played with the noodle horse to help find our body positions for shoulders in, counter shoulders in, haunches in and renvers

haunches/shoulder in (counter shoulder in/renvers) - Gem and I were able to get this done ok, but if I asked him to perform these maneuvers at the trot, he came down to the walk.

holistic vet - very interesting visit with a holistic vet. My first holistic vet experience. Not sure if it was money well spent. Jury is still out.

helping Tammy trailer load - helped her load Ruby and the new gelding Bentley. Bentley has little trailer experience and Ruby has some bad trailer experience. I used everything I know to get those 2 loaded in the dark. I was glad to help, anxious to start my drive home, but glad to help and play with my horsemanship on 2 different horses.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

David Lichman - 2 days of horsemanship

A great first day with David Lichman in Yoder! I woke up early and drove the 2 hours to arrive around 8:20 am. Long drive and I was pretty tired, but so enthused to be with some great people and friends learning more about horsemanship.

I indicated on my personal info sheet that I was really focused on getting more athleticism from my horse and being a better rider. I let him know that I wasn't doing much freestyle riding lately, more focused on finesse and dressage. He made a point of helping me improve and I was quite thrilled!

Gem warmed on the ground beautifully. We had a good connection and could have played at liberty as the line was always slack. Once on his back (I chose to ride western on day 1), things went just as well. David helped me understand how to ask Gem to be more naturally collected by letting him know I wanted his head lower and his back more rounded, and then helping him learn to travel that way on his own. That was incredibly cool and I had some great, great moments on Gem the first day.

I sometimes felt like I wanted more to work on under his tutelage, as this group has wide varieties of skill levels and we don't seem to do things as a big group very much. I asked David a couple of times to give me more to work on and he obliged. We played with getting more of a collected posture from the ground and I found that to be an interesting challenge.

At the end of the day, I played for about 30 minutes with Tammy's new horse Bently. A gorgeous warmblood gelding, he doesn't have great ground manners and Tammy wanted to see him improve his appreciation for his human's space. A very nice horse, he responded positively and got with the program immediately. I enjoyed playing with this horse for the first time.

Gem did an amazing job as my level-headed and responsive partner on day 1 and I got to stretch my horsemanship and riding. Loved it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 days with Jinita - Day 1

What an amazing start to a new perspective! We talked for a bit and then watched "If Horses Could Speak". A very eye-opening video about the anatomy of a horse and how we, as riders, can get top performance without jeopardizing the horse's physical self.

We then went out and played with some concepts such as riding more forward (to avoid weighting the back farther back where the muscles don't support weight well). We played with the web halter vs the rope halter, to avoid intense pressure on the nucal ligament. We watched how the horse moved with these changes from the ground. They naturally extended the hind legs slightly more and dropped and relaxed their head and neck. Very interesting!! Gem had a decent headset already so I didn't see much of a change when I went to the web halter. The saddle placement was definitely better, though.

We were going to ride next and I decided to start with Z. Well, when I went to the pasture to get her, I noticed Starlet was in a bad way. As I got closer, I saw that her rump had been torn open vertically just under the tail. Oh, poor girl - she was very hurt. I let Z go back to the herd and I led Starlet in to the barn.

I have no idea how she did this. There was no indication in the pasture of a struggle against fencing. We'd had a terrible hail storm and I thought maybe she sustained a kick where a hoof snagged her skin. I just don't know. Regardless, my vet couldn't come for about 5 more hours and instead of finding a different vet sooner, I decided to wait for my tried and trusted Dr. Walters. I didn't treat her besides 2 grams of bute and putting her in the stall with hay and water. I decided to do the rest of the day with Gem since he was already with me and ready to go.

We rode for a bit then and Jinita started to help us address our riding flaws. My big offense: over-riding! This was a little tough for me to understand. We took some video so that she could help me understand. After some discussing and watching the video, I think I realized that my legs are too far forward. Once I started riding with my legs more under me, she became happier with the picture.

It was a neat first day full of information that caused me to rethink my existing views on riding, saddling, and online play. I ended up meeting Tom about 9:30 to get Starlet stitched and we didn't finish until 1:30am. Day 2 was going to be a challenge with a lack of sleep.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Going Aussie, mate?

I've been doing lots of research on saddles and I really want a lighter weight saddle for endurance. I'm using my western which is about 30 lbs and covers more of her back than I'd like (traps in heat). I know I'll need to spend about $1k to get something that will work for well - you get what you pay for with saddles. Tonight, I decided to pull out some old saddles I bought years ago for endurance and see if there's any chance I could make them work.

The horse that matters is Zarah. I have an Aussie endurance saddle that is lightweight and secure so I tried it on Z. It fit ok, maybe just a slight bit tight in the shoulders. I added my CSI pad and tried it out. She has plenty of should room with the pad and she seemed comfortable in it. We rode around the property a bit and I felt positive that I could make it work. I'll need a breast collar and a seat saver, but I think we could make it work. Otherwise, maybe I could get a few hundred bucks for it and put it towards an Ortho-flex or Timberline or Desoto.

A few miles will tell the story...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Indian Creek with Deb

Got out early this morning, picked up Deb and went to Indian Creek with Gem and Z. I decided to ride Gem and Z got to be free. She led a lot of the way which was fun because she likes to MOVE! Gem bucked for the first time in about 6 weeks when Z cantered off. I think his rear cinch was too tight and I adjusted his saddle. He did fine the remainder of the ride. We went about 12 miles in total. Gem didn't want to leave the herd when I went to get the horses, so I'm trying to decide if he should be in his own herd again. He's been with the group for about 1 week. I gave them each a touch up trim before leaving and booted all feet except Gems hinds. Gorgeous day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

KK and Rain

I had planned to condition Z tonight with a long ride, but life got in the way. Instead, KK and I went out and played with Rain. We washed and conditioned her mane, hosed her legs (she just had a heat cycle), and I trimmed her mane a bit. Then Kendall hopped on and I helped her practice her seat bareback as Rain went up and over obstacles. She had a fun time and I'm always glad when she gets on a horse. After Kendall was done, I asked Rain to go over the barrels a couple times. She's a terrible jumper! :) But, such a great horse.

She went back to the herd looking groomed and pretty. Nice to focus some attention on her for a change.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dressage Lesson #2

Whoo - this one was physically challenging! I was sweating and breathing hard throughout the lesson.

We focused on my leg placement, Gem with contact, getting more forward if he over collects and allowing the canter if he continues to offer it. KC wants to see a faster and more productive canter. I tried to ask for more energy in the canter and often got the gallop. He did quite well, though!! He worked hard and really tried. He wants to stop and I'm trying to figure out how to keep him forward w/o "driving" him forward. However, it seems the dressage riders tend to drive forward in the seat. I'll continue to figure out the best way for me to get things done with him without damaging our relationship.

We did find a really nice place in the trot with him feeling back to me and carrying the bit. That was lovely. He also did very nicely with picking up the correct leads every time. Making my outside leg long and back really sets him up well. I lengthened my stirrups today, too.

I'm going to add spurs to help me be lighter with my leg, mainly because of where my heel hits him and how much I have to wrap my leg around him.

Great lesson. Ready for the next one!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gem on the trail - more progress!

Another great day on the trail with Gem. We made it our farthest yet. He was was safe and sane. He didn't do anything silly. I took my time with him. His feet were getting quite stuck as we hit his threshold and I honored that by turning him or backing him to move his feet again. Interestingly, he's happy to go south on the trail (also away from the trailer) but he doesn't want to go north (the way we normally go).

Regardless, we'll keep going! I was thinking today as I rode that it's been months since he offered a buck. Maybe that's all behind us. He's doing great.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Conditioning in the heat!

Covered a cool 14 miles in not so cool weather. It was high 80's, but with nearly still air it felt super hot. There's an interesting haze over the area due to multiple fires (over 20 at this point) in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The sky isn't the normal pretty blue color and from Sharptail where we rode, Denver was in a fog.

Anyway, it was super fun riding with Christy and her friend Melissa. Z did great and there was plenty of horse left at the end of the 14 miles. I wonder if she could do a 50 soon. She's also having no back issues - which is great! Using my green gel pad and it's working beautifully. I had her wear boots on all 4 today (bares in front, gloves in back). I was glad as she seemed to move out with no reservations. We joked about her "engine" a lot of the ride.

Z did great loading in the trailer. I was prepped to spend 10 or 15 mins helping her feel ok in the trailer, but she loaded right up! Yesterday's prep work was well served.

I would have ridden other horses, but D and I had a date with the tennis court. I did a BFL run in the morning, rode the 14 miles, then played an hour of tennis. Feeling energetic and great.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Light day

Cowboy and Chrissy - she got on a little but she was feeling nervous today.

Light riding on Gem in english saddle - he was lethargic! Practiced our new dressage a little bit.

Some trailer loading with Z. Big progress.

Too tired to do much. Big conditioning ride tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Our first dressage lesson

I found a new dressage instructor last weekend and I scheduled a lesson as quickly as I could. Tono day was the first lesson and I chose Gem as my partner. It was a fantastic lesson and i will go again next week. i also committed to practice with Gem at home. Looking forward to this new area for my horsemanship joruney. I'm truly hoping to go to a schooling show this summer.

Things I learned:

1) when cantering, the inside leg is the gas and the outside leg goes back
2) Gem really falls on the left shoulder - is he favoring a leg?
3) my legs need to be further back and my thighs should open more
4) no neck bending in dressage really
5) Use my inside leg to keep him cantering
6) transition down by straightening my lower back (essentially, stop riding - but a different slant than I've used in the past)