Lesson Ponies

This week the “exercise of the week” was bounces. Bounces are great for helping the rider to have an independent position. They also help the horse adjust their own stride. Once you’re straight, the rider has to support the horse with the leg through the line. Bounces are basically multiple jumps in a line, with no room for any cantering or trotting between the jumps. So they have to immediately jump the next jump as they are landing from the previous jump.

Gracie and Jellybean both got to be lesson ponies this week. Jellybean could be questionably described as a lesson horse on the regular, since Ashlynn takes lessons, but Gracie hasn’t really been helpful as a lesson horse, especially not with jumping.

UNTIL NOW

I give you video evidence of the ponies in action, and my awful squeaky voice telling people “LEG! LEG! LEG!”

 

 

In other news, one of the other horses in the lesson ran straight into Jellybean’s butt, so hard that he bounced off of her… and she didn’t kick him. What is happening in this world?

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September.

Well we made it! This month hasn’t been the picture of productivity. It rained for a week and we felt the effects for about two. I had some really nice rides at the beginning of the month, including a great one without stirrups in the dressage saddle. I feel like it really helped me stretch out my hip flexors.

Most of the rest of the month has been projects inside the barn with minimal riding. My ponies are getting ready to make another move. We are going to pour some sand into a paddock and give the paddock life another go.

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Jellybean has gotten fantastically quarter horse-looking. She has had a sleek appendix shape for so long I had gotten over the idea that she was going to look like a big ole cow horse one day…

Ashlynn is taking Jellybean to a couple of shows this weekend, Topsider this weekend, an xc schooling, and then Pine Hill in October. Jellybean’s first show. I feel a little disappointed that I’m not going to be the one to take her, but I like the partnership between Ashlynn and Jellybean, and I’ll be there watching.

Looking forward to the fall, I’m thinking about taking Knots to the Pine Hill HT in December. Redeeming ourselves from that awful show in July. Then maybe we can start looking to novice in the spring. I’m also looking into some riding instructor certifications. They are all expensive and questionably useful. But they give insurance discounts.

Robert got to test ride a new lesson horse, you probably saw the video on Instagram.

You can all look forward to a recap of the show from Ashlynn, and hopefully some more consistent posts as the heat cools off and we come inside earlier.

August heat

The high today yesterday was 101 with a heat index between 106 and 110.

Even the cats are panting.

There is a cold front rumored for this weekend, and the high on Monday showed below 90.

Knots and I have a dressage lesson Monday morning.

Kids are going back to school (sad day)

Did I mention it is going to be 101 today, plus heat index?

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No students all week… lets have some fun!

Our last week of summer camp was last week, and this week is a “mini-vacation” of sorts. No riding lessons or students in the morning or evening! What could we do?

I rode Knots this morning and we worked on the same fan/bounce exercise Maggie set up last week. Last we we practiced it with some tiny crossrails, and it hard not to rush, especially with such a need for steering. Basically, you ride through the bounce and then the outside jumps are five strides and the inside jumps are six, even though some of us… ride a four-stride and a five-stride.

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Terrible fuzzy drawing, sorry.

We warmed up with a super lazy walk/trot/canter. Knots had already eaten breakfast, but he was feeling sluggish. He also kept staring at Gracie devouring his hay… I haven’t been jumping with spurs, so we just went with it. I spent some extra time moving my hips with the canter, maybe I can stay away from the chiropractor for a bit longer. Long story short, crooked horses make or cause crooked backs and painful hips. But, what came first, the crooked horse or the crooked back?

Anyway, I set the cross rails up to about 2, 2’3″ and the verticals to 2’3″/2’6″ (who measures anyway? even though we have four jump sticks now).We warmed up over the two outside jumps, just one jump at a time. Then we put it all together. Through the bounce, over the outside jump, around, back over the other outside jump, and back through the bounce. Its kind of like a keyhole. And! There are videos!

 

Knots was being very relaxed, and I was trying to sit up and let him figure it out. I did push a little on the second video. We are really starting to build an adjustable canter, and its making life so much easier!

I think the rest of the week will be some more riding and a lot of catch-up/scheduling things, but looking forward to fall I think there will be a bit more time to focus on some horse training.

Oh! And since you loyal readers care about more than just horses, Robert asked me to marry him last weekend, and I said yes! I’ll try not to put too much wedding fun on the blog, but who knows what we will decide to go with?!

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Jellybean News

Hello all! It’s Ashlynn, back with some Jellybean news.
I’ve been on vacation, and am currently on another right now. While I’ve been at home, though, exciting things have been happening in Jellybeanland. As an overview: lease began, new training, and tricks.
After the first vacation, Pony Club camp, and a show with Tank, I started helping with barn camps and riding Jellybean. We also signed a lease, which means I have a lot more riding time with Jellybean. On the flat, we’ve been working on listening to my legs more, especially my right leg, and using the outside rein. We tried to figure out poles, and we pretty much have them down for the most part…I think. Our current training goal is to prep for an event this fall. Our other long term goal is to master flying changes. This will take a bit, as it does need some foundation work first.
Since I have more time with Jellybean, I have also decided to teach her some tricks. I have started to teach her how to “hug”, and more tricks will come soon. It was fun to teach her, after she understood what was going on.
Hopefully, Jellybean is being good back in Texas. When I get back, I will start to post more as we progress with our goals.

Business as usual

Lots going on right now!

Ashlynn is leasing Jellybean and getting in lots of ride time. Before she went on vacation at least :p

Knots and Gracie have moved into the barn, since they both suffer from being easy keepers. This is actually somewhat counter-productive, since camp kids are constantly feeding them treats. Lets be real, I’m constantly feeding them treats. Sigh. They approve.

Knots didn’t work too hard after the show, but he did have a standout lesson in the last week where he actually lengthened his canter in a grid without rushing. Also, I uploaded the terrible video of my run out at Pine Hill. The ugly right?

Gracie has gotten some love from some of the barn kids. Including some jumping

We also took a lovely trail ride this weekend. Jellybean was the horse of choice for one of the instructors that doesn’t have her own horse. Jellybean just cantered along and did everything she was supposed to.

That’s not entirely true. She did spend half of the ride plotting to kick Vinny, and almost succeeded in breaking my knee cap. Luckily Vinny moved over quick enough, and I paid better attention.

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Horses are such fun 🙂

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July 3rd Horse Trials recap

I guess its fitting on some level that this post took me a week, since this show was exhausting! Nothing like riding all day in 95+ degree, 50%+ humidity conditions. Long post, but lots of information and pictures 🙂

We decided to leave fairly late: 6:15 am. We got to the barn and loaded up, then stopped for some breakfast tacos and ice before driving down. We ended up being about 30 minutes behind the ideal schedule, but that was mostly ok. It just meant we got to speed walk the beginner novice xc course.

I’ve been dreaming of moving up to novice soon, and one of the things holding me back is the introduction of combinations on cross country. Imagine my surprise when I found a four-stride bending line out in the back of the property… I had a mini-panic moment, and resolved to ride actively later. After some drama llama-ing. And then more llamas.

After check in and walking the course, it was time to jump into my dressage gear and get Knots ready to go.

 

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Knots warmed up really well. We worked on some serpentines and transititions. He was quiet in the canter and just really relaxed. I had planned for a 30-40 minute warmup, but he was happy with less. I walked him around until the steward mentioned we were next. Then I started up the serpentines again, and serpentined right into the arena. He is much better working into the arena, instead of standing around and then coming back into work.

 

I didn’t get the scores until later, but 40!!!!! This is a personal best for us. Our other scores on this test are 46.8 and 49.5. Progress!

After dressage, it was time to cool out and go walk the stadium course. Stadium at Pine Hill is always inviting, usually without combinations. Whomp. An average two-stride line and a long five, short six stride line. Theme of the day. I decided we would get six and that I needed to ride forward for the two.

Our stadium warmup was hot and cold. Knots didn’t really want to ride forward into the bridle and I kept getting jumped around. I think there was something going on with my choice of pants and underwear, but maybe I just forgot how to sit. This was the beginning of my massive fail at bitting my horse properly. (See, I told you I would talk about the good, the bad, AND the ugly in my training diaries.)

 

As you can see, a bit frantic. Sucking back from the bridle, miscommunications. Penalties. Six strides on the related distance and three in the combination. It was ugly. Especially since we’ve been riding so well at home… Somehow the still photos looked incrementally better. Troy Roane takes excellent photos. Number 17 is actually a lovely photo of cross country, on my list to buy sometime.

As you might guess, I was very disappointed in this round. And clearly the bit was too much, but what about cross country? I had the full cheek snaffle in the box, but last time cross country was where I really needed brakes. Why take the brakes off right before you needed them? I didn’t have a lot of time to think about these problems, because it was time to ride Vinny’s dressage round. Robert was a champ and helped me take care of Knots, and then it was onto the next pony with a clear mind.

Vinny was strong in warm up. He didn’t want to slow down, and he wanted to lean hard on the bit. We practiced some ugly halt transitions from the trot, trying to maintain some level of flexion. The steward was a little confused and tried to tell us we needed to ride the test 20 minutes early, but after he checked his watch he was good to go. I think its always key to remember the people running the show are volunteers, and there is honestly never a reason to be rude.

We eventually had some semblance of a half halt in the trot and tried out the canter. No right lead, but I think he just doesn’t really understand the cue very well. Time will improve that. Anyways, our test:

 

It looked a lot better than it felt. There are only a couple of moments when you can see me struggling hard. We stayed in the arena and even picked up the correct right lead on the second try! Vinny pulled down a 42.5, which I was very happy with, considering he was evading contact as much as he could throughout the test and I was practically hanging on his face #dramallama. Funnily enough, the judge was very pleased to see a draft cross with some energy.

After our dressage round, we had about an hour before the stadium round. Lunch time. Vinny’s owner cooled him down and gave him another round of snacks, and we grabbed some concession stand food. I only ate about a half of a BBQ sandwich; when its that hot its hard to eat. I did drink about 10 gatorade/waters during the day though.

Vinny’s stadium course was the same as Knots, except the two stride line was gone. There were some suspicious potted plants in front of the standards though… Our warm up went really well and we tried to find some shade to stand in as we waited our turn.

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This was the part of the day that was really starting to be hot. Luckily there was a very solid breeze blowing.

Vinny was lovely. We didn’t canter much, I wanted to be sure he didn’t try any funny business. And we haven’t been cantering all the jumps at home, perform like you practice or something. He was a really good boy. He looked at the plants on the standards, but went right over.

His professional photographs are very nice. Number 12 shows the uncertainty at the plants. Number 21 is a nice XC photo. Number 6 shows his best form, although questionably too much effort for such a small jump.

After Vinny’s stadium, there was another big break before Knots’ cross country. I tried to hydrate some more and eat something. Eating didn’t really work out. My fearless leader and I walked the XC course for Vinny.

Then it was time for warmup. No more coat and off for the fun part. Except the bitting. We were riding in a slow twist, which I have ridden Knots in before to success. Remember High Point Schooling in January? Rode in a slow twist and it was perfect. I think I forgot to consider how much consistent riding has happened between then and now. He generally slows down, and hes actually getting to the base of the jump now, things he didn’t do when the bit was first used. And so cross country in July…

Honestly, it was awful. And all my fault did I mention? We came out of the box good, then off to the first jump. He looked at it and would have refused if I wasn’t game on. Very un-Knots. Then he charged to the second jump, much like last time. This is the part of the course I brought this bit for, and it didn’t do anything. I still didn’t have brakes, because now he was scared of my leg and the bit. Bad words happened here.

He really tried to stop at the second jump. I got him over and we charged off again. He hesitated before the uphill mushroom about four strides out, and I pushed on. And then he charged off again. I couldn’t get the line to the next jump, the uphill log, from the charge. I said more bad words and we turned a circle. Knots listened a little bit, and then we went up the hill. As we were coming down the hill, he finally started to relax, slow down, and pay attention.

This was important because that nasty combination was coming up. We rode it like a champ. He hit the first one with his hoof, and the second one was great. We had a little galloping stretch to think about where we were in life. I planned my huge releases.

The next few jumps went well, 7, 8, 9, 10. I put my leg on, he jumped, I stayed far out of his face. We came around over the mini brush jump and up to the water. He actually hesitated coming in. Rob got a great video. Knots doesn’t actually like jumping down into water, and we’ve only schooled it a few times. Since there wasn’t water up to the edge, I didn’t think about it being a stopping issue on the course walk. I got a little forward, but we quickly regrouped.

At this point I was starting to be tired, three jumps left, but we had really worked to get around. The rest of the course was uphill, first the train coop, then a step up, then the teal roll top.

As we came up to the hill to the train coop, I didn’t put my leg on. Knots ran out. Maggie got a video, you can see I’m moving about as slow as molasses. Here is where eating more food would have been helpful. We circled back around and I rode more aggressively, getting jumped out of the tack in the process. #ugly

The last two jumps were uneventful, and I was just happy to get Knots home without further trouble. I jumped off Knots, loosened the girth and started cooling Knots out and telling him about all the cookies he was going to eat. I’ve never felt so crappy after a cross country round.

After taking care of Knots, we had some time before Vinny’s round. I was canvasing people for light snack foods, and one of the student’s dad let me annihilate his tupperware of strawberries and blueberries. After a recharge, I was ready for Vinny’s trek around the field.

We warmed up, nothing too wild, and then headed to the startbox. He was very looky, not too sure where we were going. Out and over the first jump, no big deal. Just a little wiggly. Second jump, third jump, boring. Although there may have been a tiger beside that awful tree stump.

The fourth jump was next to the water, and he was concerned.

Vinny was a little sideways at the water, but once he realized we were going around he was better. Then he saw the sand. We actually walked a little bit. I probably could have trotted him, in retrospect, but I really just wanted him to have a fun round. Slowing down seemed like the best way to not make it a thing. And a horse that slows down when scared seems safer long term than a horse that runs away from danger. Just need to install the buttons.

We went up the hill to jump up the little log/step up. I thought this would be the scary jump, but he didn’t mind at all. Over the box and then over some sand (!) and beside the ditches (!!!) to jump over the big box. We cantered up to the finish line.

He was such a good boy. His owner was at the top of the hill to help pull off his boots and we put some cold water on him. He wasn’t even that winded, go fit pony trotting around the field! I think he would have been a little winded if we cantered up the whole thing, but who knows. Maybe he has more arabian than percheron.

All in all, it wasn’t a total wash of a day. Knots and I had a great dressage test, stadium and cross country were learning experiences for me.

knots scores

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This end of the day picture seems to appropriately sum up how we felt:

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Vinny had a great first competition. I think this was a great confidence building round. He even earned a ribbon!

vinny scores

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Shamelessly stolen from Vinny’s owner. He’s so handsome!!

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