Adventures in Dressage Land I

     Normally I write about my exploits with Jellybean or Oberon, but today I am taking a detour and writing about something specific to my riding. Ok, and maybe one of my other favorite horses, Knots. Knots is 15.2hh something. He has some kind of drafty head and smaller hip. He has a very laid back attitude on the ground, but has been known to have enough spunk under saddle to gallop off into the sunset. He is very athletic and jumps easily. He also works well off your seat and changes leads and stride length with ease. He is certainly an interesting challenge to ride.

     Anyways, Knots and I have had a great time jumping around and galloping through the pasture. We haven’t worked so much in the arena on anything like contact etc. So here goes our first dressage lesson. We got to the arena and exactly the time to start (all kinds of preparation and I’m still running late). I hopped on and we started trotting around a circle. The instructor watched for a few minutes and then started making comments about rhythm. She talked about the importance of keeping the same rhythm the entire time. So we worked on keeping the same rhythm while she made some minor comments about posture.

     As we continued through the lesson, we started talking about the importance of the horse bending around your leg. We applied inside leg and used the rein to bend to the inside while pushing the horse out to the outside leg. Knots didn’t get it. His first reaction was to fall onto the leg I was using to push him over. Since we were having trouble the instructor broke it down to a simpler movement. We stopped in the arena and started executing a turn on the forehand. As before he tried to lean first, but then he decided to try something different and figured out the whole turning thing really quickly.

     And so we moved on to the walk, and trot, and eventually canter. Knots figured out circle left easily, but circle right is proving to be more difficult. As he became more tired, he wanted to fight my right rein more, but hopefully we can keep improving. The real challenge here will be making more time to ride. Cause that is always my challenge. Time isn’t free, and apparently my time is highly desired by other things, like my degree plan.

     I am really excited to start taking some lessons, even if I can’t ride Boberon the Lame. It will be nice to have some concrete goals instead of just po-dunking. I do enjoy po-dunking, and I am not sure I have time for anything else, but I really enjoy planning. This instructor has indicated she might be willing to trailer to XC schooling for gas/mileage fees, which sounds to me like I need a vest 🙂


Lessons and Lameness

     Tomorrow, Jeannette has signed us up for a dressage lesson with Sarah at Denali Sporthorses. Hopefully it will go well, but I am a bit apprehensive. Its been awhile since I rode in a real lesson. These lessons are going to be centered around dressage, which a the tricky part of eventing. At first, we wanted to go off site and ride some schoolmasters. I’ve been told many times the only way to feel is to have a horse that knows. So off we went. Unfortunately, dressage programs with schoolmasters seem to be lacking in this area, so we are settling for a trainer who will give us lessons on our own horses. Luckily, Oberon is an ideal lesson horse for this scenario. Except he’s off. 

     Last week we got Oberon all saddled up for Robert to ride, since he got some sweet new riding apparel for Christmas. Oberon was a tool. Over reactive and spooking for fun. Then he started gimping around. He looked like he had some pain in his right hip. So the ride ended. The next day, I got him out to work him a little bit and see if the hip was bothering him from the start. Aside from his spookiness and over-re-activeness at the beginning, he was ok. As the ride progressed though, I could feel him getting sore. So we ended again. He had yesterday off in the pasture, and all day out today.

     I got him out today to get started. Maggie and I decided he is being a TB, and needs to get focused before I ride. He needs a job so he doesn’t feel like he needs to spook. So I lunged Oberon around, without and then with side reins. He did ok, still a little bit fruity, but not sore. Until he did some cantering circle right. That really seemed to get him a bit sore. So I decided not to ride.

     At this point, it seems like there is a stiffness or a muscle weakness. I know he banged his hip straight into a metal gate a few weeks ago, and the soreness might be working out at this point. He isn’t starting off the ride lame, only after a little bit of work. I’m hoping we can keep “working it out,” but I will have to see. In any case, the moral of this story is that I will not be riding Oberon in the lesson tomorrow. This is a disappointment, but also not that big of a deal. Knots is a worthy substitute, and I have spent a lot more time working with him. AND! He will probably be the one I take to an event. To be continued…


    We had a great session tonight! I decided to throw caution to the wind, and I just went for it. Jellybean has been stuck in a stall for quite some time, and I decided I wanted to ride her tonight. I showed up and got her tacked up. I started lunging her and she definitely took some time to calm down. It didn’t help that the temperature was dropping and we were in the cutting pen under the lights. Jellybean snorted around and blew and flagged her tail and galloped around and tried to buck the saddle off. Obviously none of that worked, and she was forced to pay attention to me anyway. I don’t know if she was completely unresponsive, or she couldn’t see me. Her responsiveness to my voice commands was kind of crappy. In any case, we went through our “warm up” after she finished galloping around. I made her walk and trot and canter and we did several transitions. Then I took the lunge line off!

     Since I had no handsome assistant tonight, I just walked Jellybean over to the gate and hopped on (I really need to work on my one legged jump). Jellybean was just bored, and tried half heartedly to walk off. Once I was mounted we walked around the entire arena and worked on walk/stop and turns. I was thinking about trotting around, but I didn’t want to push the envelope too much. Jellybean did great, especially considering we haven’t worked in over two weeks. Whew. Thank goodness 🙂


     And the temperatures keep on dropping… the low tonight is 18. Now this is nothing compared to my family in Ohio, who are all expecting below zero temperatures… but nevertheless. I snuck out to the barn during lunch and threw Jellybean and Oberon some extra hay, since the daytime high is 33. Jellybean is going to borrow her boyfriend’s turnout sheet tonight, just for an extra layer. Luckily its supposed to be warmer later in the week.
NickerDoodle Blanket_Melanie_Eberhardt

2013 in Review

     Happy New Year! 2014 is here, along with lots of new ideas goals and dreams! Before we move on to 2014 goals, I think it will be good to reflect on Jellybean’s past year!

Jellybean made it to the farm on January 5th, and we got started working on ground manners immediately. I convinced her she had to pick up her feet, and she wasn’t allowed to be aggressive towards me, even at dinner time! We played in water puddles, and got started in the round pen.

Jellybean also got to wear a blanket and then tried to jump out of the paddock! During a Texas warm snap, Jellybean even got a bath (which she definitely didn’t like). Benny helped Jellybean learn to pony around and then Jellybean learned the basics of long lining with the halter. At the end of the month, Jellybean got her rabies vaccination and took a few days off.
February started off with a bang, when all the horses escaped to the hay field next door, except Jellybean, who preferred to be alone. She also moved into a stall and started getting breakfast.
In between the rain showers, Robert learned how to work with Jellybean in the round pen and Jellybean learned more about long-lining. The saddle was also introduced, and Jellybean didn’t really have any concerns! Robert built some cavaletti this month, which Jellybean has barely used, although many other horses have used them extensively. We finished out the month with some good saddling exercises.
Jellybean wrote her first blog post and then had a snotty nose!  Jellybean also met her new sister, Ginger. We tried calling Ginger Peanut Butter, but it never stuck. 

Ginger moved right into the training program, and helped up with Jellybean by ponying her around.
Jellybean banged her leg and got to wear wraps for a week or so. Then we worked on long lining with the saddle. Jellybean got a cold, and had to learn about penicillin and needles. Jellybean  hit a new low with her treatment of farriers.

May was the big move into the paddock! Jellybean and Ginger moved into their own space as soon as Robert and I redid the shelter to make it a bit safer. Jellybean learned how work on the line instead of just the round pen. It rained a lot again.

School was finally over, and I was hoping to spend some more time with the horses! Jellybean started coming into heat and started being a scandal! She started flirting with Cash and some of the other boys through the fence. June was really hard for us, as Ginger passed away. The official report said salmonella poisoning, but I don’t even know. Jellybean officially turned two on June 11th! Robert spend more time working with Jellybean on the ground, and then the vet came! Jellybean had her teeth floated and got all her shots up to date.

The real excitement of the month came after the vet, when Jellybean was lethargic from the rabies vaccination again. I rode her! Jellybean had a lot to say about that, and the month ended on a good note 🙂

I was on vacation in NC for half of the month, and Robert worked on Jellybean’s training. I did bring her some new clothes and toys when I got back. Jellybean learned all about the bridle in July, and made some massive progress. At the end of the month, we missed barn time with the condensing of apartments into a house.

More riding in August, and building on fundamentals. Jellybean had lots of turnout time, and then developed some eye goop. After a lot of rinsing with saline, she seemed to clear up. She went on a trip to pick up Jeannette’s horse Panda, and gave no fuss about the trailer. We also dealt with the farrier aggression, and that is luckily not a problem anymore. Jellybean also let me trot around with her for the first time, and started tweeting!

September meant the beginning of crazy work. Jellybean still got worked, and we ran into an issue with moving forward. Jellybean didn’t really understand what my leg pressure meant. The rain started for real, and our daily training sessions disappeared.

Jellybean wasn’t impressed by the cutting pen, and was a little bit naughty. I made some serious plans in October, because I felt I wasn’t giving Jellybean enough time. This is certainly true, and I was feeling very overwhelmed with teaching and research and teaching lessons and riding and sleeping. Then we continued building to Halloween! We even had some spooky events when the feed keep being overturned and eaten. Pesky raccoons.

The rainy season was building, and the stalls flooded very badly; Jellybean even got moved for a few days. At the beginning of the month we bought Oberon, and Robert told everyone his first impressions. Most of this month was spent feeling guilty about not riding Jellybean and dealing with the massive mess the rain made. We also went out of town for a week during Thanksgiving.

Whew. End of the year. Robert and I continued to be extremely busy, but we did manage to spend a little time dreaming up goals and dreams of 30 day plans. The ponies enjoyed our busy-ness, as they got to spend a lot of time hanging out, instead of being ridden. We did have a memorable experience with the farrier, who informed me that Oberon apparently has navicular… And then it was Christmas, and then the end.

Looking back on this year, I am completely impressed by how far we have come with Jellybean. I think I need to be a little nicer to myself, and remember, Jellybean isn’t even 3 yet. Plenty of time, and this time I feel like we aren’t progressing will be well spent grow-up time for Jellybean. Stay tuned for some beginning of the year glamour shots 🙂