Jellybean might almost, maybe, growing up

The barn was a crazy place today. Early this morning, the pony club descended and had their monthly meeting. I kind of floated around making sure people weren’t having trouble with the facility, and I watched a few kids ride. Then we drugged Jellybean and headed home for an afternoon nap.

Later in the evening we headed back out, and I decided to ride Jellybean. Rob was going to ride Gracie, but we got there as Kayla was finishing up a ride. Gracie was somewhat better behaved, kind of.

Jellybean got warmed up, and then we worked at trotting over some baby cross rails. Then why not do a baby course?

 

She was a little overexuberant over the first couple of jumps, but she quickly realized they weren’t worth much effort. And look! I’m sitting up haha. This is the first course we have ever done, so bam. Milestone.

We finished up with another milestone, Jellybean was calm enough for a tiny little girl to have her first pony sit. Who would have thought? Jellybean…kids horse.

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Just kidding. We aren’t quite there yet.

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Gracie’s exciting adventures

A week late, but better late than never, right?

Last week was an exciting week for Gracie. Her normal schedule consists of being ridden by a college student (Kayla) 1-3 times per week, and an occasional hack by Robert. Oh, and she’s SUPER fat. We’re currently contemplating moving her to another pasture so she can stop eating everyone else’s food.

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Monday she got to go to the dressage lesson. I don’t think Sarah has ever seen me ride Gracie (although lets be real, we still haven’t broken 30 rides ever…), and she hasn’t seen Gracie go (with Maggie piloting) since last year this time. So the potential for a big difference.

The dressage lesson was really thought-provoking. With Knots, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching him to move off my leg and trying to bend him around my inside leg. Gracie doesn’t have a problem running away from my leg, bending is impossible, but put a little leg on and SHOOOSH! Sideways.

One of the major benefits to the college student riding Gracie is the focus on slow, relaxed, and balanced flatwork. Gracie is a big mover, and she never really learned how to contain her majesty. She’s improved in HUGE ways with the riding Kayla’s done with her.

Back to the dressage lesson, we were able to improve on that work and start thinking about the next┬ásteps in her progress towards dressage pony (eventer, lets be real). Namely, holding herself up without freaking out. So, basically the same thing as slowing down, but on 20m figures and especially at the canter. All while accepting contact. Kayla is working with very light contact currently, but I was working with Gracie to accept a bit more. Especially because that’s how I can help her at the canter.

Our trot work wasn’t bad, I just needed to work on keeping the contact consistent (I see some loose side reins in our future.) She was having trouble falling in circle left and running out circle right. This is where the light bulb turned on with me a bit. Knots really requires a lot of inside aids to do anything. Gracie needs the outside aids to support her ridiculous, all-over-the-place movements. Quite different to think about in the moment.

We really worked in the canter to help her hold herself upright and without running either in or out of the circle, which, surprise, makes her feel more unbalanced and then makes her run, starting the loop of doom. This was especially challenging circle right, she had a lot of trouble holding the canter. I worked hard on keeping my outside aids consistent and allowing her to move out without falling on her forehand. Whew. This was a great core workout, and I have to get stronger as we keep examining this.

Dressage lesson was great, gave me lots to think about. And then I got to be at the barn when Kayla started over some jumps.

Kayla has been working on the flat for several months and getting Gracie to slow down and calm down. They have been working over poles, and keeping the same attitude: its not a big deal. Gracie still gets very excited about poles. (I swear we’ve been doing poles and crossrails the entire time we’ve owned her…) Either way, this was the first time Kayla was jumping Gracie, and the first time shes been jumped since Maggie rode her after she dumped Rob at the show last fall. Hopefully you followed that. Anyways. Video evidence of her going over jumps without freaking out too much:

 

Sorry for the sideways video, it was in the moment. Definitely some solid work here, she’s doing really well. Hopefully some more solid work with Gracie and Robert will have a bit more time and they can start plotting their next outing. There is potential in there, we just have to make the time to dig it out.

Jellybean makes a new friend [again]

Its Spring Break here in Texas, which means extra ride time. Combine that with my recent defense of my master’s degree, and bam! Riding again!

Monday was dressage day. I took Jellybean to Sarah’s and she was a mess. Which is mostly my fault. I have got to start holding her accountable for being a horse and stop making stupid excuses for her. If she won’t poop under saddle, its not my problem; we’re still working! She tried the spooking game. She ran from the log, she ran from her shadow, she was worried about the flower box that the dressage letters are painted on. Luckily my new saddle has some stick, she ran sideways a couple of times and I felt glued into the seat.

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We worked on keeping a constant rhythm. Her walk was crappy and we worked on actually striding out. Then more at the trot and the canter. Use those gaits and cover some ground! I have been struggling with making her movements too small. In any case, we had some improvements, and it gave me a lot to think about with my riding.

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Tuesday was a barn work day, which means lots of projects to do and lots of time spent walking around. I logged 25,000 steps. Whew. We cleaned out the cross country field and did some general cleaning and maintenance. I also had another student try Jellybean. There is the potential for some mutually beneficial situations, but we’ll see.

We went to the cutting pen and Jellybean was doing the spooky thing again. We were concerned about grass in the wind… We worked on a circle and she calmed down and then I had the student ride her around. She was a little tense in her arms, and she wasn’t quite comfortable with Jellybean’s low head carriage, but those are easy to fix. I had her ride around and hang out and see what she thought while I walked off to do a couple of workday things.

When next I saw them, the student was telling me that Jellybean was being a little bit silly. Something about a shoulder shake and pseudo-spook and kick out. And a separate moment with Jellybean tripping and the rider moving around and Jellybean being worried. I’m was pleased that we were getting an accurate view of what Jellybean does. I always hate when you try out a horse and everything is oddly perfect.

We’ll see if this works out, it would be nice for Jellybean to have a person that can ride her on the regular. It would also be fun for this student to get more ride time with a horse that can learn a little quicker than the lesson horse. Stay tuned.

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