Weekend Riding II

The weekend spilled over into the week a bit, and now I’m late writing about it. Such is life.

Knots went to the weekly dressage lesson. We test rode a new saddle, and now I’m purchasing!! So exciting ūüôā We didn’t have any real breakthroughs, but I did forget the side reins. We actually rode just fine without them. I was really surprised, in a good way. He definitely had places of greater resistance, but nothing as dramatic as I was expecting. We did again talk about my hands. I need to close my fingers and be soft through the elbows instead of trying to be soft by opening my hands. This is going to be one of my next challenges.

Tuesday Jellybean got a ride. We test rode my old dressage saddle to think about which dressage saddle I liked better. New saddle will be so exciting. Then we did a little jump school through the gymnastic. Balance balance balance. I have so much work to do. But Jellybean was awesome. Its such a fun feeling when she locks onto the jump and just goes along. I just have to keep pushing myself to stay with her no matter what. And stop letting go of the reins :p.

Video evidence:

 

Since I’m late finishing up this post, I can also tell you a bit about this weekend.

Friday afternoon Robert and I decided to evaluate his saddle options. He currently has a 19in Thornhill Pro Trainer with a wide tree. Unfortunately Gracie is more of a medium, medium-narrow girl. We just wanted to see how¬†Robert fit in¬†the different saddles, my new all-purpose, and his Thornhill. (You can kind of see in the video that the flap is too long on my short legs. I need an actual close contact saddle, which means either Rob likes the new saddle or I resell it.) And it turns out, Rob fits just fine in the new saddle, which also fits Gracie much better. Win win. Now I just need to sell some saddles and buy a jumping saddle for me. To be continued…

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The stirrup is too short here, but you can see the knee to hip area fits this saddle pretty well. 

The rest of the weekend had limited horsing around. Saturday morning I coached a couple of students at a schooling jumper show. We had a great morning, and the kids met their goals. Sunday was a no go on the riding, work calls. We are going out of town on a business trip next weekend and the following week, so limited riding for the next couple of weeks. But then, all the riding posts! Stay tuned for more hints of saddle drama. 

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Weekend riding time I

This weekend was a little bit more hectic, we had some work things to do and I’m still working in all my “spare” time on finishing up my degree. Nevertheless, I made it out on Saturday and Sunday. Lots of words and less pictures, sorry ūüė¶

Saturday I worked with Knots and Jellybean! Knots got a dressage school. We worked on some of the same exercises from the last lesson: trotting figure 8s and me stretching tall. We also worked on moving off the right leg better and not running from the left leg. We had some canter work which was really good to the left, but to the right we were falling into the circle very heavily. There was some stretching, but there was also a snatch of the reins out of my hand. The most exciting part of Knots’ ride was when he actually lifted his back a little bit at the trot. Its a crazy feeling when he does it; it feels like he is suddenly lighter. I kept focusing on sitting up straight and pushing the energy from my legs and seat out in front of my hands. One day we will both be in shape to ride like this all the time.

Jellybean had a more exciting time. I groomed her and then we went to the cutting pen where a jumping chute is set up. After trying to get her to come through it on her own, I grabbed the lunge line and tried to help her figure out what I wanted. Except then she started dropping her shoulder and running into me. That had to be firmly corrected, which unfortunately was made worse by the crazy neighbors next door raining buckshot (or bird???) down on our barn, and probably the arena. Byron was really terrified too; I think he was actually shot at some point in his past life, he has some birdshot embedded in his face and paws.

Anyways, we eventually figured out how to go through the chute and I made the jump bigger and bigger. We finished out with a 2’3″ oxer, which she stopped snapping her hind end so dramatically over. Next time I’d like to have more jumps for her to think about and maybe some higher, wider things for her to practice over. Oh, and a photographer! I couldn’t coordinate the line, whip, phone, etc.

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Sunday was a fun afternoon. Rob and I headed out to the barn to see the ponies with the intention of jumping Knots and riding Jellybean on the flat. Jellybean went first, and she was having quite the day. Mind wasn’t present. at. all. We spooked at the flappy-flaps on the side of the arena (banners). We spooked at the water trough. We ran across the arena just because multiple times. We watched the tin roof flap a little.

It was definitely a baby ride, and I tried to find something good. We basically managed the spooking and worked on some of the things from the last dressage lesson, ie allowing the bend, turning on the forehand, and general transitions. We finished off with a little bit of moving off the leg in an almost side-pass way.

Knots started off a little up too, but my stirrups were also like three holes shorter than I ride with on the flat, so it might have just been general challenges. Unfortunately I got too enthusiastic at the beginning of the ride and planned something too big for him to handle gymnastic wise. I set up three cross rails at 10 feet apart with a 4.5′ placing pole (oops). I should have reviewed the distances before I started. Basically the placing pole messed him up and I lost balance and we were frantic for the rest of the ride.

I imagined us trotting in and cantering with big bold ROUND jumps over the cross rails, unfortunately I got flat, frantic instead. I fixed the exercise and tried to salvage, but even with canter poles and a last cross rail, he was still very upset. We kept trying to calm down, and eventually ended with a small vertical, big X, small vertical with limited drama. Got to start out good!

Here is an example of frantic and flat with my poor position making things worse:

 

This was one of our smoothest jumps, but its still pretty rough. So much work on the jumping front for both of us.

Another flight with the Jellybean-kite

For the weekly dressage lesson I decided to bring Jellybean. Mostly because I actually rode her between the last time Sarah laid eyes on her, unlike Knots. Jellybean got breakfast before we left and I did something completely stupid that luckily didn’t end in death. While she was eating I walked up behind her and started to put a shipping boot on her hind leg. By some miracle of God I didn’t get kicked, she just jerked her leg forward. Amanda, be more aware!!!

Anyways, we loaded up the trailer in a fairly boring manner, Jellybean appreciated getting into a lit trailer instead of the dark trailer of the last week. We drove down the road and arrived just on time. We brought a breakfast taco, and hoped our offering cancelled out our lateness. One day we will be on time.

As I got Jellybean off the trailer and tacked her up, I saw the kite fill with air and lift off. Jellybean was snorting and checking everything out. I tied her to the trailer (on the opposite side as Bear) and she started screaming for Gracie (spoiler alert: she wasn’t on this outing). I put the saddle on (whew, it fits now. It didn’t fit last time I tried to ride her in a dressage lesson… a year ago.) and then the bridle and walked her around the trailer. She was still looking at everything. I started getting her girthed up and she just kept spinning around me. Maggie asked me if I wanted help holding her. I declined and continued playing the spin around game. Sarah asked if I wanted a lunge line. I also declined and mounted up.

We walked a lap and then immediately started trotting around. There was this terrifying rope thing swinging in the wind across the field (hammock) and then there were flowers in front of a large log stack. Scary life.

Anyway, this doesn’t end with me getting bucked off and falling in the dirt. Jellybean calmed down and we got to work in the arena. We worked on trotting in a nice rhythm and just a little bit of inside leg to outside rein in the trot. Then Sarah had us work on the turn on the forehand. Jellybean did two steps immediately, and then the trick was to get her to stop anticipating the movement. Hmm.

We switched sides back and forth asking for the turn on the forehand and Jellybean started to get frustrated so we did some more trot and worked on a figure 8. Then we came back to the work on the turn on the forehand. Sarah explained to me that we want to teach Jellybean that she can more her face and neck without moving her body. We worked on that at the walk a bit. Walking straight while turning the head from side to side. We also increased the amount of bend we were asking for in the turn on the forehand. Jellybean was trying really hard at the turn on the forehand and she was trying to wait for a cue instead of guessing.

After a little break, we worked on some cantering. We cantered two 20m circles at the end of the arena and then continued down the long side trying to maintain rhythm and balance. Jellybean was very balanced at the canter, and Sarah seemed pleased with her. Circle right Jellybean even stretched down to find the bit and get a little help with some balance. Sarah pointed out that this was really good, and that one of the nice things about baby horses is that you can teach them the aids are for helping, not hurting.

We were finished after the canter and we walked the horses out and chatted a bit more. I was pleased with Jellybean’s brain power. We made it through the kite moments without any actual drama and then we figured out how to turn our head without our body a couple of times. And she is looking to the bit for support. This was a really positive ride, and definitely helps me continue to be excited about our progress.

 

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Jellybean almost got stuck in the fence grabbing at that tiny piece of grass

Flying a Jellybean-kite

Spoiler alert: I’m pretty displeased with my position over basically everything, but in the spirit of documenting Jellybean, the good the bad and the ugly are all part of the story.

Friday we made it down to Pine Hill for some cross country schooling. Jellybean loaded right up on the trailer with the other ponies attending. She only pawed on the trailer until we headed off.

Once we arrived, the fun started. Jellybean was very concerned about the strange trees. Bellville features pine trees, and Jellybean seemed concerned that she could see through them. Not as many oaks down here. We tied to the trailer and then left the ponies to sign in. Jellybean was more settled with Quest and Cowboy by her side. She kept flipping from side to side and looking.

We tacked up and I was pleased to notice that Jellybean has grown into Knots’ jumping boots! Some people fit tack and equipment at home, but other people show up late. Sigh. We walked around while everyone else got tacked up and then we mounted. Jellybean didn’t really trot off, but she did jig all the way down the hill, mostly straight, but sometimes sideways.

This really amused me, since I’m choosing to take it as proof of her thoroughbred blood. When we got to the bottom of the hill we spooked at a person standing behind those fuzzy trees again. This was still amusing, because it was so out of character. Hmm. We trotted around and warmed up a little bit, still staring at everything. I got distracted coaching some of the students and Jellybean mostly stood there.

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I’m on the right, Jellybean doesn’t look crazy here

As everyone went over the log, we headed over to the start box and started rolling. Lots of coaching (Maggie was distracted at this point, she is having a bad run with stirrup leathers). I did take Jellybean over a couple of times, and I wasn’t very impressed with myself. I need to shorten my stirrups! It seems like my brain should have registered that after riding the weekend before. Especially because Jellybean is determined not to hit the jump with her hind end.

I also can’t explain what is going on with my hands. She was being really good though, she stopped being so excitable as we got started. She never really cares about what the other horses are doing, and so she was just going along.

The next jump was the brush, which she went right over, except when she decided to put her foot down in the jump (?). Again, shorter stirrups. I’m kicking myself. The next time was better for Jellybean:

 

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Not beautiful

Back in the woods lives the steep hill with a log on top. I decided to walk Jellybean over it, but forgot it was a BN log. Luckily it was a short log, and we managed to walk up and down the hill without drama. I don’t know that she has ever experienced such a steep hill, living in the land of flat.

Anyways, after that little bit, we spent the rest of the time helping the other riders and hanging out. We did play in the water at the end of the outing.

One more log to jump over after the water and we were done. No major dramas, just crappy rider position. Jellybean did a great job!

 

Lesson recap: Dressage fun

Weekly lesson scheduled, and first lesson ticked off! This week we were at the farm, but next week we will begin hauling over to Sarah’s place. Its going to be exciting seeing where we get with a weekly lesson. Of course, it will be better if we can ride regularly, but we’ll see.

We started off swapping some gossip and saying hello, since the last time we rode with Sarah was well before Christmas. Then we got warmed up. I started Knots on the serpentine exercise we have been working on, and he settled into it nicely. We trotted up and down the arena a few times before giving Sarah our training recap. Basically haven’t ridden much, but got three dressage schools in recently. I told her he was stretching down at the canter a little bit without changing pace and verified that yes, that is good!

I moved back out to the rail to canter and worked for the good transition. Sometimes when we stand in the arena middle we are a bit sticky getting back to work. We got to the canter and I focused on sitting tall while he cantered along. He did actually offer a little bit of stretch while Sarah was watching, so that was good.

Once we were fully warmed up, we talked more about sitting tall as he stretches without dropping the reins. We started working on a 30-40m figure eight and trying to adjust pace, slower and quicker trot. Knots was overbending circle left while fighting the bend to the right. As we came through the middle of the figure eight he got tense and threw a few steps of tranter. At first I was leaning in anticipation, but as I worked on sitting tall he got better. He also improved when we continued on circle right until he didn’t get excited coming through the middle.

I’m pretty happy with this lesson, considering ride time has been limited since last we met Sarah. She could tell he was trying, and that is real improvement from Knots. We finished up with a little curry and lots more peppermints. And now riding is over until the weekend. It looks like our Pine Hill schooling is being moved to Friday afternoon, since there is another rodeo for our favorite cowboy on Saturday in Crockett (1.5-2hrs away).

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GIVE ME COOKIES

Cross country schooling with the kids

Weekend one of cross country schooling, check! This weekend we headed to the open schooling at High Point Farm in Plantersville. They have a variety of friendly, introductory cross country jumps in a large field on a windy hill. This was the first outing with some of the kids, so we made sure to start them off right.

We made it about 20 minutes down the road and had a tire die. Ok, we brought the floor jack and we had a spare. A nice guy who saw the trailer roll up let us borrow some kind of tire iron, because of course it was the one thing we were missing. Wham bam. When I was digging around in the trailer I realized I left my helmet at home. Whomp. A really great parent ran back and grabbed it for me. Our barn family really is the bomb.

As soon as we arrived at the facility, we got stuck in the mud. I always forget how poorly the facility’s parking drains. It doesn’t help when you have seven horses in the trailer. Just sink in the bog. Luckily, while we were getting warmed up, the dads came to the rescue and got us on good ground.

All good life lessons for the kids. How to overcome haha. Anyways, we got warmed up and Knots and I went over the warm up oxer. I was getting a little bit left behind, so I tried to fix my position. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that I should have taken my stirrups up a hole until I looked at the pictures. Oops.

We started over the starter jump. I jumped over the beginner novice/novice jump and then over the training/prelim starter jump! Weeee

Knots wasn’t really snapping up his knees like he often does. We were doing a good job of getting to the base of the jump. I was still a little shaky following along.

After the starter set we moved to the tires and jumped over those. Not too exciting, we have tires at home. He is so handsome with his clip.

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Next we jumped some barrels and played on the up and downs. I had a really good run through:

Things were going really well at this point, we jumped over the novice lattice thing, which gave us a little bit of trouble. I got left behind and landed hard, but we worked it out and had a nice jump.

We tend to jump pretty flat (right jump) but as we were getting a little deep Knots had to really round up (left jump). This was causing me a bit of trouble. About this point we realized we were running out of time, so we kicked it into high gear. I wanted to jump one of the novice combinations, the fake ditch and then four (?) strides to a bench. So off I went. I went off too quick for Robert to get a video, oops.

I jumped the baby ditch and got lined up for the bench and we got too deep. Knots rocked and jumped (a la pogo stick) and went over. Robert was watching and he said that Knots knocked me with the saddle in the air. Then we landed and as he cantered off he knocked me in the butt again. And down we went. I have a mental snapshot of being upside down looking at Knot’s hooves thinking, please don’t hit me as my head hit the ground and I rolled over my shoulder. Knots bucked up the hill until one brave mom stood in front of him and he was corralled. I hopped right up and went up the hill. My head was hurting, so I planned to be done for the day. I remounted and helped the kids get over the green box of death (which isn’t the ‘scariest’ GAG jump anymore).

I did a little bit more jumping when we got to the water, Knots and I jumped down in to the water a couple of times. Last time we were here, he wasn’t very into jumping into the water, but he didn’t care a lot this time. We finished up jumping the beginner novice/novice jump into stadium.

My head felt better, and I don’t think there are any concussion symptoms, so instead I just got to be a good example to the kids of what to do when you fall off. Another day in the life. We had a pit stop at sonic on the way home and finished out the day. Knots really enjoyed the trace clip, he was barely sweaty, except under the saddle (although, one of the dads pointed out he looked like a fat guy in a too-small sweater. oops). All in all a good day. We need some more work on going over higher jumps with appropriate stirrups. I need to keep pushing my butt back and bend a little bit more over the jumps. Thanks goodness for pictures. The new bit also made things more adjustable. You can really see it in the video, he was actually listening to the half half. I changed him from a regular snaffle to a slow twist full cheek. Now I just need to buy one instead of borrowing.

Dressage lesson this week and cross country schooling with Jellybean on Saturday, stay tuned!