Jellybean meets new friends, and teaches some fun lessons

Jellybean has been meeting some new people the last few weeks. First she got to meet Maggie’s son C. He does tie down roping (calves), and I was talking with him about how I thought Jellybean might eat calves for breakfast. There was a meme that brought this conversation up:

I think it could fit Jellybean. Anyways, he rode her around on the flat and was really impressed with how smart she was. They were playing around with learning to spin. I think he could ride her and help her be cool with just about anything. Teenage boys are good for horses in that way.

A couple weeks later, one of the boarders was discussing her horse’s impending tie back surgery (roaring is a very interesting topic for later). I mentioned that Jellybean wasn’t doing a lot, and she could be an option for a back up horse while Finn recovers. And so it happened.

Sydney will be riding Jellybean beginning when Finn goes in for surgery on October 10th, and until Finn is recovered enough for regular work. So far, they have had a bit of a learning curve getting to know each other.

Sydney first rode Jellybean in a make up lesson out in the dressage arena during twilight. Jellybean was mostly doing ok, not super responsive and not super spooky. Unfortunately she picked up on Sydney’s nerves about riding a new horse. One of the habits Sydney is working through in lessons is a tendency to hold onto the reins unnecessarily. Jellybean really hated the tight reins. She tried to do right, as this is part of a cue for backing up. But the pressure didn’t stop when she backed up.

She did a couple of baby bucks and caught Sydney off guard. There were broken reins involved…

They finished out the night, but there was a lot of angst involved. I had some extra time on Saturday evening, and met up with Sydney at the barn. First we worked in the round pen. I reminded Jellybean that she knew what to do in there, then Sydney mounted sans reins. I tied those up. Then we worked on sitting up at the trot and canter without leaning or pulling on anything.

It went pretty well, so we went out to the jump field for some practice with reins in hand and then some trot jumps. Jellybean was much more attentive when the reins gave her enough room to carry her head in its natural position. She wasn’t very lazy either. She mostly moved forward promptly. Anyways. Pictures over jumps. Jellybean wasn’t really trying, which is ok. She didn’t stop, and she didn’t try to run out, except for one time when Sydney changed tracks.

This is my favorite picture.

Jellybean actually jumped this one, too bad I cut off Sydney’s head.

I think this will be beneficial all around. Syndey gets to ride a horse with a low neck, Jellybean gets to be ridden by another person, and I can focus on Knots and this October horse trials.

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Training Plans and Cross Country Schooling

Back to school has been really exciting in lots of ways. Finishing bench work, teaching biochemistry, new internship, teaching riding lessons, and riding five days a week. Jellybean and Gracie both have new partial leasers. Much more to come about the leasing soon! This post is about Knots and I schooling at Pine Hill this morning.

Treat?

I can smell them.

GIVE ME TREATS!

Maggie and I loaded up as early as possible, but we needed to get a hitch for the bumper pull trailer, and some stores aren’t open as early as we were ready. Whomp. So we drove down and ended up being a bit late, but Knots was cool. We cantered around the warm up logs a couple of times and then got right into the lesson. Unfortunately, Bear decided to be lame as soon as we got down to the lesson. Not a fun day with silly Bear deciding he wasn’t trot sound. Maggie was a champ though, and walked him around and watched. We’re trying to decide if we think abscess or the need for back shoes.

Knots and I ended up jumping all the beginner novice jumps on the course, which was awesome :). I wanted the confidence boost, and that’s what worked out. First the welcome log, then the welcome coup. Then we went over a red mushroom, up the “mound” (there are fake hills in this area of Texas :p), over a log, then down down down to a coup. Off to another log, and then we were doing well enough to get to start jumping the novice jumps. Check out the beginner novice jumps here. Just click on the number, and a picture of the jump will pop up.

The red mushroom

Its always better to see the jumps from horseback first, because sometimes I see the jumps from the ground and freak myself out haha. From horseback, 2’6″ and 2’9″ look pretty similar. For example, this 2’9″-3ish table would have scared the crap out of me if I saw it from the ground first.

The water complex was where things got more interesting. The water was fairly deep, so as we were cantering through, Knots was giving me a shower. Not such a win haha. So much water… We jumped the brush jump, then over through the water, out of the water and over the log, then up to the coal car and back around over the roll top through the water again. Whew. The coal car is fun looking:

Knots didn’t look at the jump, but I did, so we ended up jumping it a few times as I made a mess of it. There were more big jumps in the woods, and we finished out over a novice mushroom and a trakehner.

Overall, it was a really nice day to appreciate how much hard work we have been putting in. The time spent focusing on my position has really helped Knots be more relaxed coming to jumps. We went around the entire course with a snaffle and the running martingale. I didn’t wear spurs, and I dropped the stick before I even mounted. I think the lack of spurs is making a difference. I also think Knots is going to get front shoes before the show, as there are some places with a lot of gravel and he was a bit ouchy going through. There isn’t really any reason for me to not make him more comfortable.

I’m really looking forward to the show. I don’t feel like we are going to be especially scrappy going through. I’m hoping to score in the low 40s in dressage (or even gasp! break into the 30s). While I don’t think those scores will be super competitive at Pine Hill, I think we are looking to make some personal bests this next weekend. I’m really proud of how far Knots and I have come in the last couple of years. Stay tuned 🙂

Snacks after the ride

Five days in a row!!

I had quite the streak going on last week! Knots and I were on fire for sure. Some quick recaps:

Wednesday: Dressage ride. I actually already talked about this ride in the last post.

Thursday: Jump school. I freaked myself out about my beginner novice entry and decided to jump some bigger jumps. I set up a 2’6″ course and we had no problems. Knots was calm and cool. We even have a video! It wasn’t totally polished, but it was definitely not an awful place. Of course, Robert is my handsome videographer!

Friday: Jumping lesson with Amanda! We worked on a course. We did super well when I was focused, but we either ran at the jump, refused, or chipped in when I stopped focusing. That seems like an easy fix, pay attention! Easier said than done unfortunately. Knots was still pretty chill, he was actually adjustable, which was magical.

Saturday: Conditioning! We canter/galloped four laps of the cross country field. It even rained a little bit, so the ground was softer. Knots started the day at 40 bpm. The first lap went well, he wasn’t super forward but he did what he needed to do. The second lap he started blowing. The third lap was hard, and the fourth lap was really really challenging. We cooled out for over thirty minutes before I showered him off and let him rest.

Sunday: I didn’t want Knots to stand around after such a hard Saturday, so I hacked him around. We walked, trotted, and cantered around. Mostly we hung out though. I rode in side reins and he continued to be adjustable. Knots moved into a stall in the barn so that he could be on a diet until after the show. Whomp whomp. He is down to two flakes of hay twice a day and a half scoop of the easy keeper feed. He looks sad already…

Monday was a day off for Knots, because I was exhausted from school.

Tuesday he was ridden in a lesson by one of our students. It seems like it went extremely well! He jumped a gymnastic, X one stride to 2′ two stride to 2’3. I didn’t get to watch, but Maggie said he was very good, just not very energetic.

Knots gets Wednesday and Thursday off, and then we have a dressage lesson on Friday afternoon and hopefully lots of riding Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I mailed the entry today, so I need to make the time 🙂

In other news…. what have Jellybean and Gracie been up to while I keep writing about Knots? Stay tuned 🙂

Knots’ head is more firmly on his shoulders

Last week we hosted our first annual Jump for Life show. It was a blast organizing, coaching, and watching. We had a lot of big lessons learned by the kids and there were lots of prizes to go with them. Knots was a back up horse for Maggie’s son, A. The normal horse he has been riding is Simon, who is a really good guy. Simon has such a good nature. Oh, a bad spot? Ok, I’ll handle it. Faster? ok. Oh slower here? Check. Lead change? Already done.

Coaching at the show

Some other students were planning to ride Simon for the show and we could only have so many, so A got to ride Knots instead. Quick history: He was the first one to ride Knots a few years ago. He spent a lot of time working on the basics. Knots learned how to not run away at the canter (as bad) and also how to relax and stand around a bit. Since he spent so much time riding Knots before I did, A usually rode him at playdays and other fun events at the farm (Knots is super, super fast). Normally, afterwards, Knots would be completely crazy and take ages to calm down. Like need to have several rides before he would realize I didn’t want to gallop into the sunset. Even though I am way shorter than A, he was still in run mode.

Enter the Jump for Life show. A needed a horse to ride, and Knots was the guy. They practiced three times the week before the show, and Knots was stopping in front of jumps when he jumped even a hair ahead. But there was no galloping off afterwards. No crazy freak outs. He was going soooo slllooowwww. I think the combination of Knots learning more and the general improvement in the A’s position has made him less reactive. They jumped at the show and had moderate success. Knots was extremely chill, much more than I expected. They would have had the fastest round without the refusals, and they weren’t even going full tilt.

This is a chill face for a jumping round!

Back to the present: Last night I had a dressage ride on my schedule (haha I pretend I have a schedule anyways). I got Knots tacked up and decided to ride in the side reins without lunging first. Lunging is somewhat annoying, especially because I usually end up leaving my equipment out for some undetermined amount of time. Knots was totally cool with the side reins, but he was really running away from my leg. We argued about it for about 20 minutes of walking and trotting.

I tightened the side reins two holes and BAM! He stopped fighting with me. This seems very curious. They weren’t actually adjusted that tight to begin with; I usually adjust them a hole or two looser for riding than lunging. I’m still going to be thinking about why this happened. Maybe I underestimated the warm up or some other random variable.

In the moment though, I was enjoying him moving off my leg without changing his rhythm. It was kind of magical. We worked on serpentines and walk/trot transitions. Then we cantered around the roping pen a few times and made smaller circles a couple of times. It was almost like I was riding a different horse at the beginning versus the end of the ride.

I think this is a great example of how far we have come along. Instead of continuing to fight (either with the tack or each other) we can now slow the grump-cycle and communicate clearly. He knew what I was asking for, he just didn’t give it to me. I haven’t decided whether I think that’s because I was being unclear in asking or if he just didn’t want to.

In any case, I was really pleased when we ended the ride on a good note where we were actually communicating effectively. This is even more exciting when you think about how it used to take 2-3 rides for Knots to chill after a speed round with A. He really is figuring out what is expected of him. Go team!