So after thinking about the other day, I got on Simon to school him at the house, looked at the round pen, back to the riding area, then just rode him into the round pen. I left the gate open thinking we wouldn't be in there long as the last time I'd lunged him in there he'd been a hot mess. Instead he was pretty chill and we had a good session.
Basically, I figured out some things about his canter. My intent was for relaxation but as soon as I dropped the reins and asked for a trot, Simon thought about taking off but then decided it was easier to just pack me around calmly. We kept this calm and worked on steering off my seat and some other things, just with loose reins. He did all that super awesome so I started asking for canter transitions. We were able to get about 20 in and I just let him figure out his balance and things worked out fine. At least I can get SOMETHING done and I learned a lot about what he likes, knows, prefers, etc. It was also a hellacious leg workout so I can see us doing this again.
Maybe we can actually DO our cantering at the trial... maybe.
Overall I'm a pretty analytical person which results in me feeling oddly ok with everything that's going on. I also like to look on the positive side of things so I'm in the "optimistic realist" camp for most everything without exception. As I think back over what happened yesterday, I'm struggling to make a plan or draw conclusions about my rides yesterday.
So first, I rode both Jade AND Simon yesterday. This is a first for me and I feel accomplished that that was finally done (my body would argue but it can shut it right now). My ride with Jade went well. We accomplished what I wanted, built a little on the foundation we've worked on and I enjoyed myself. Mission accomplished.
Now for Simon.
I know a big part of what is going on with me and him is lack of training plans (or perhaps too many and not a solid Plan A?). I do try to have one, but then I get on him and he feels decent, then not, then really not, then I focus and try to pull on things from lessons and my knowledge and we get something sort of passable. The canter is going to be an issue for us but hell if I can't get that thing to a decent point ever when I'm on my own. It's annoying and I'm not sure what to do. I could have probably been better with my shoulders a little. That's about the only thing I can think of but I know it must've been more as it was crap for a while. I opted to work on some of my cowboy things with him when it was all going to shit and I think it helped a little with the results but I sacrificed a little of his relaxation as he was a bit WHAT ARE WE DOING OMG afterwards. Even though it balanced him up and I was able to leave his face alone to get where we needed. I KNOW to use more inside leg but he wasn't having any of that. We went down to the trot to reconfirm that but it simply wasn't crossing over to the canter at all.
I even wrecked our good right lead canter for a while. (Although I was able to end with something decent on that but we couldn't do the leg yield fundamentals we'd tried this past weekend without issue).
I was trying to get more canter done as I know more canter is really what's going to help me feel more comfortable on troubleshooting it but I also know that having him all nice and awesome at the walk and trot helps that too. I need to figure out a way to get the pieces together and I know I'm the weak point (obviously) but its frustrating that I can be decent in a lesson (granted sometimes after a while) but at home its just crap. I guess I should realize that we DID end up with 4 strides or so of good canter in both directinos which is more than we've gotten before at the house. I DID learn more about transitions with him (even if he was appalled at my spurs still).
We'll keep working and I'm trying hard to ignore the fact that we've spent $400+ on a show in 3.5 weeks that I'm now not sure we can pull off decent canters in. A lot can change in that time, I know, but I'm going to have to figure out a realistic plan, stick to it, and hope it was the right one.
I guess here's my list to work on:
Test how much my seat is affecting him (or not) in the canter
Round pen work? This would be more for me to get a good feel but he's also rubbish at cantering that way on his own soooo...
Figure out how to get a reliable transition without him skittering (we're doing pretty ok on this)
I'll figure it out, but its soo hard to be on a horse that does so well and I feel like I'm messing it up. Granted there's going to be some retraining him to work for me (or me to work for him) but its frustrating sometimes. Just need to focus on the fact that he's only been here 4 weeks and we're doing really really well for that time frame. I also found myself wanting to get back on Jade ASAP which was a revelation, but at the same time, I reminded myself that I didn't feel the same about her even a month ago so yeah. Time (y). I just hope I didn't throw money away for this show (but then again, I always want to wait until we're 100% perfect and hence me never entering a recognized show before so yeah).
I've started riding Jade this week. I'm not 100% sure of which day was Day 1, but it was last week. I bolted from work early and headed to the barn as early as I could to claim the round pen. Even with all that rushing, I BARELY made it there first and managed to forget things in the trailer, in the barn, at her stall, etc which resulted in lots of unnecessary walking. By the time I was ready to go in the pen, there were other people milling that way but I managed to get there first.
I don't like being rushed and with horses you never know what is going to happen so I decided with the crowds coming, I was going to keep it simple. Also, I've NEVER been at a barn where people used the round pen so wtf? I ran Jade through her exercises with the western saddle on to make sure she was again ok with it (our first time free lunging with it) and she was responsive and nice. I brought her to the fence and hopped on. Really the only goal here was to work on one rein stopping at the halt and walk with a possibility of a trot one too. I chose to just go to the right (more people showed up waiting) and got started. Jade figured it out quickly and so we worked up the speed. There were some forward issues (of course) but she quickly figured out that the rules from me on the ground were the same as in the saddle. We found an end point and headed out.
Next attempt I KNEW I was going to do all three gaits in both directions and I talked my brain down on the "what ifs" about her tantrums. Her tantrums only showed up at the canter and we not readily apparent so I was happy that she was trying to figure things out. Some of her trotting was sluggish so we worked on that and I got some sitting trot practice in while she figured that out. Goal was to learn that no matter what I did up there, she needed to just go forward. Cantering got a little dicey once she started getting tired but we worked through it and I one rein stopped her when she seemed to maliciously bounce/kick/buck. It's hard because sometimes to get into the canter she "needs" to bounce at this point so I have to gauge how I think she's meaning the bounce. Overall, very good ride and I felt confident, happy, and relaxed.
Today was the third ride and Miss Jade was very very good from the start. I knew I was going to be more assertive (but fair) about the shenanigans at the canter and was going to insist on a full circle around the pen without breaking along with lots of transitions as I needed. I was also going to push her fitness as well as her commitment to working so the odds of her throwing a fit of some sort was high, but from yesterday they were really mild compared to two months ago.
We worked about 45 minutes and she was very good. I had some issues (again) with the saddle slipping as she got sweaty (and started relaxing/breathing) but it was manageable and we were able to work on lots of nice trot and canter work. I rewarded the nice smooth transitions and then got onto her about 3 times due to her throwing a legit hissy fit. At the end she was super relaxed and good. I'm happy with how she and I are doing and even more happy to see a deeper relationship developing with my big black girl.
Moving forward, the plan is simply to keep round penning it until she can easily walk, trot, canter until I ask her to swap speeds and also continue to work on her "following the fence." For me, I'm working on sitting trot when it makes sense and also better position in the canter. The western saddle is great for this but I'll be looking to swap it to my cushy dressage saddle when I get the chance.
Even with my recent purchases adding to our looking spiffy, we hit Lurena's again on Saturday after I spent all morning teaching dog training lessons. The drive there was pretty brutal as my brain decided after teaching it was nap time and no matter what I did, I was just a zombie. We made it there (easily and safely) and I got started. Another really nice person greeted me and I again failed at being social. I'm always so on point for my tasks that I fail at social.
I suppose there's worse things?
I tack up and get on Mr Simon before heading into the arena. I focused on playing a bit more with the outside rein in our warmup and woke up a bit more. Lurena showed up and introduced me to the "other" rider. I apologized for being me and committed his name to memory. Hopefully he's always wearing breeches and/or near his horse. With the pleasantries out of the way, we got started.
My main goals this time were to video the ride (yeah no), focus on grouping things into categories (warmup, rhythm, suppleness, etc), and when to use what. I was hoping we'd work more on the canter and that I'd be able to get a little more coordinated and some better insight after our cool/tiring lesson from Thursday.
Overall the lesson was really good and focused on bendy things and getting Simon looser, more supple, more suspended, and more through in his body. Its always more of a mental lesson for me with Lurena than physical and I imagine for Simon it's like horse yoga. He did great though and only showed some signs of tiredness at the end so that made me feel good. We clicked nicely on most everything and if I can replicate how we ride most the time at the shows we should be decent.
The dreaded left lead canter was much improved and the outside rein deal definitely is the key for both of us to stay connected. More work on that, plus transitions, plus balance, plus the things :)
I had also mildly wondered if Lurena was always so complimentary of my riding because she's just that nice. It had sort of started slipping into the whole "maybe she's doing it to get me to come back" land because crazy!brain. But no, I watched a lesson right after mine and she was consistently and politely asking him to change X, Y, Z on his body and how it would affect the horse, etc. I managed to say something like wow, I guess you DO like how I ride and she smiled and nodded. Yay! Nice to know all those years of trying to do something weren't done in vain. Also... it was a bit fun to watch someone learning to ride (only 4 years into it) and how much fun they were having. His angle of the fun might be a little different, but I liked watching him learning.
For this riding session's saddle pad attempts, I used liquid bandage, baby powder, and the new Success Dressage Pad. I was going to use the EcoGold memory foam as well but decided to keep it simple and see how this worked. Overall, it worked really well through our long and involved lesson. Definitely going in this direction is good, so I'm happy to keep on going. If I want to nitpik things, using a piece of KT tape would have helped but then it doesn't help his back heal soooo yeah. #rambling
That's about it for Mr Simon this week, more to come next week I'm sure.
In case we've ever forgotten, I've never shown at a recognized show of any sort. Attended? Yes. Volunteered? Oh yeah. Shown? Nope.
To be fair, I understand and can translate the information for the eventing (USEA) recognized shows easily. Unfortunately, those aren't on my radar between now and the end of the year. The plan was to hit some schooling shows (dressage and one Pine Hiller) and then aim for the Halloween HDS recognized show.
So today I was looking through the dressage entries again. I've got myself and my horses registered with USDF, USEF, USEA, HDS, NTEA and GHCTA. Simon is also with the TIPS program and Jade of course in FHANA. Enough acronyms for you? Me too. Can't wait to repay all those memberships again. *sigh
So I've got all my numbers and I'm reading the prize list. This fee for that, this fee for this, blah blah blah. I'm just blacking out reading the fees and all these qualifiers so I decide to streamline it: check out the online registration. Many times just seeing the choices can make me get it. So I do that and check it out:
SO MANY CHOICES!!!!
Also, you'll notice that that is NOT the Halloween show, but the bigger show earlier in October. After looking at the Sept shows and realizing that its almost halfway through Sept and that I'm either going to show this weekend OR next, I decided to check out the October shows. I believe I can do this Championship show series (except be entered in the "nonchampionship" classes of course) and its awesome because I realized I could show on Thursday/Friday and be home to teach on Saturday.
I like showing on weekdays.
So I'm digging this show but there are SO MANY CHOICES of classes. I realized I have a lesson with Lurena this weekend so I just decided to rein in things and ask her on Saturday. Entries close on the 14th so I have time. Entries for the Halloween show open on the 15th so it looks like I'm going to be shelling out plenty of $$ for this but whatever.
Aside from the timing issue on the schooling shows, I google earthed the locations and I felt a bit twitchy about the parking/stalling scenario and I don't get performance stressed more or less at shows of any size so whatever. I believe we can get our qualifying scores for the qualifiers (still learning about these) so it won't be too embarrassing. It also gives me time to work on our canter (the thing I've deemed needing the most work between now and then and its not THAT bad) so I feel better about this. I DO need to get a coat (mine's a smidge too small right now) plus a "real" show shirt but I did find a super cool stock tie shop and ordered that from there. I'm questioning my "tall boots" as they're Ariat Sport Vs but we'll see.
So we have some spiff going on and shouldn't crash and burn. The only nagging thought I have about schooling show vs recognized show is having a "bad score" on my record but honestly, I don't give a crap and doubt we'll do that badly so ne'er. Hopefully I'm not wrong but if I am, I'm adult enough to amateur the crap out of it and move onward.
Besides, I'm hoping to have Jade at the Halloween show in Intro sooooo we might be eating our scores there :P
I'll be happy to exist on Centerline Scores!
Jade's been working on the line for the most part and as vaguely mentioned in that last post, I lost my dressage whip out in the track's infield. Why was it there in the first place? Jade duh.
So I believe it was the previous Wednesday? Thursday? I'd decided to go ahead and show Jade some one rein stops. Nothing major, but she'd been doing so well I felt it was time. I had also decided the western saddle might be the smartest/easiest way to deal with this and well, I didn't want to risk my $$$ dressage saddle.
Not that she's really been actually "bad" before but yeah.
So I tossed my saddle in the bed of the truck with the appropriate cinch and junk plus her dressage bridle. I don't have a rope halter for her and wasn't sure about using her leather one (I think it would be fine but why chance it? - I did order a rope halter the next day for her as you'll see why soon enough).
Once at the barn, we walk out and she's being really attentive. I'd hoped for the round pen or the arena but there were groups of people around BOTH plus the jumping area had the jumping people all up and in it. This basically left my out in the infield of the track which is where Jade likes to be the least. Whatever. I toss the saddle on and decide if she's a fruit loop I don't have to get on.
Except... the cinch will NOT even come close to showing my holes on the tie strap. wtf. Jade is way too massive to do this so I sigh and just toss the saddle back into the truck. At this point I'm thinking about throwing in the towel, but no. We need to get this done! I grab her bridle (wishful thinking for barebackness luls), the dressage whip I'd brought (no whip with lash whee), and her and her halter. We head to the infield. As I set her bridle down on the grass, she flips her shit out.
We work for unno, 40 minutes? on listening to me on the line and I get to where she's going pretty well. We work on disengaging and all that junk too. She does well but is basically 80% on me, 20% elsewhere. In the past that would be pretty freaking good but I aim for 100% now so I start making her really work and she starts kicking out and throwing a fit. I only have the dressage whip which does NOTHING at this point so I drop it and work with just the rope. We get going nicely and I'm happy but people are starting to cool out on the track and I'm waiting for her to freak (she hates the horses "running" up behind her -even at a walk). I'm in luck (not sarcasm) and two people decide to RACE their horses on the track. Jade, of course, loses her shit but I'm ready and just start making her work. She quickly comes back, breathes and goes oh. MAYBE NOT DEATH! We finish up with a touch more and I go to hose her off.
SO, with that day out of there, I wanted back into the round pen. I had used the one at the barn earlier that week to work on hooking on/turning in/cantering more than 2 strides to the left so I decide to check on that again. Again with that day before, we'd worked in the pen ok, but on the way back there was plastic or something so we had to work through that again. Today though, she's paying attention from the start and its not as rigid either.
Progress? I think so.
I toss her in the round pen and we get to work. Her canter is MUCH better and she's realizing she needs to KEEP cantering (or else). She still won't turn in when going to the left so I work on that and she eventually gives me something to work with aside from TOO HARD EFF THIS IMMA LEAVE. Today was, for the most part, very zen and good. FINALLY. She listened, was ready for the cues, and didn't anticipate things very much at all. I've been trying to work her a little longer for fitness/mental reasons (keep working!) and so she was pretty hot after that. It's so not like working Simon. TB > Friesian for fitness obvs.
To end the session, I worked on basic hooking on things to see where she is and... she chose to disengage and follow me. OMG! Naturally it was not as good when she was facing to the left but she figured it out and DIDN'T LEAVE ME. Seriously, this is a big deal for Jade.
We did that a few more times until she was basically hooked on the best she's ever even attempted and I call it quits. On the walk back in, she didn't flinch and was a star in the wash rack while the rain made the barn roof sound scary and people were rummaging through things on the other side of the wall that she couldn't see. Yay baby horse!
Here's a pic of her looking Quarter Horsey with her head low and relaxed from that day (and sweaty):
Thursday was another torture session with the Chiro but he'd forgotten his "tool/torture device" in Brenham so I was treated to a full manipulation with just his hands. Sounded less painful until he was talking about getting his hand between my scapula and back. Huh? That... shouldn't be able to OMG IT JUST DID! So yeah, sore in ways I'm not used to but also looser. *lesigh
So I believe I'd ridden that Thursday evening but then skipped Friday to be a mom and go to football practice instead. It was also my birthday but then that somehow meant we just ran around town at 8:30pm after practice trying desperately to find football things so P could actually PLAY in the game the next morning. I don't know how people function without knowing things ahead of time.
So a few days off for Grey horse and then we had a lesson with Amanda on Saturday. It was midday and freaking hot, but its Texas so do what you gotta do. Grey horse sweats like a fiend and is in good shape so I wasn't worried about him. Me is always another story, but I sweat balls too so whatever.
The plan THIS time was to try something sticky since his pad combo had worked so well at Lurena's. I had been whining to Jeannette at the barn THAT morning about not being able to find my Ecogold pad and obvs I'd left it at the barn and someone had scored a great deal. Although I doubted anyone would want the silly thing and it's really not like me to not put things up. Like, REALLY not like me. So stomping around in my trailer, I went to grab a Roma Impact Pad to add to my nonslip pad and lo and behold - I SAW THAT MESHY BLACK PAD!!!! So I decided to use just that and a piece of KT tape and roll the dice. Check it out though!!! # lookinglegit
I didn't want to mess with the breastplate issue (one thing rubbing at a time pls), so I grabbed the NEW Figure 8 noseband and frankenrigged my second hand bridle that I bought with him for the noseband. I knew from Thursday the thing would fit him, but the fit was weird looking for me so I cheesed out and asked Amanda for help.
LOVE HAVING A TRAINER TO HELP ME!!
Seriously, it saves so much time from fitting it, trying it, fitting it, trying it, fitting it, horse flipping out, fitting it, trying it, etc.
So now that Grey horse looked the part, we had to settle for me getting on him and wow. I should have ridden Friday. I was stiff all over and knew my back wasn't going to work right for a while. So naturally I apologized to Amanda in advance and started to warm up. It didn't go too badly and I did make and effort to just ride how I wanted rather than waiting and I think we clicked pretty well. Left lead canter didn't appear to rip his flesh off under the saddle and we didn't slide all over the place like we were on ice so that helped too. Someday we'll get this damn teamwork down.
Oh wait, its only be a handful of weeks, never mind!
The lesson commenced and Amanda didn't start us out easy (whoop!). We started over a vertical maybe and then right into doing a line that built on what we did the week before. Oh and there was an oxer in the line. I tried to just not think. Seriously, my brain is such an asshole. On pass one, we got the job done and I recalled about half my duties as a rider so that wasn't too bad or flailing. After that, it turned into me controlling my tired shoulders show and figuring out how to ride my horse. Most the time he and I agreed on distances so that was easy, it was when they were long that we had bigger issues as he actually listens to me and I'm not too worried about long distances/short distances/just get over it distances! so yeah, we worked on our stuff and me doing my things.
Part of me is really glad distances weren't hammered into me as a kid, but part of me is also sad that I never actually learned these nuances. My eye is great, don't get me wrong, but when I KNOW we're off I'm a bit like uhhh.. leg? Unno. Eventually the horses learn enough and I guess they do it? It's a bit too ESP for my current taste so I'm glad we're doing all this work now. Sidebar: I also went back to watching my old videos this weekend with my old mare to see if I dropped her at the base of fences like I seem to want to do now and I think the "issue" then is she was such a beast in general that I never HAD the chance to drop them? It was more like hold steady and just let her do her thing. I don't recall EVER putting leg on her but if you watch our warmups, you'd see why leg wasn't a requirement o.O BEASTMARE!!!!
So yeah, remedial learning is pretty cool. We ended up doing a decent course with a nice in and out at the end and yeah. It was good. I need to be stronger naturally but that'll come in time. Grey Horse is a great horse and I love that he knows his job and is willing to put up with my shenanigans in the meantime.
Also, Amanda mentioned that he looked like a Simon. That was my original name idea when I brought him home but knowing SO many Simons, knowing OF so many Simons, and people telling me THEY know so many Simon's makes me go ughh.... but she's right. He IS a Simon and whatever. I had a RPG character I loved with that name and I'm going with it.
He'll still be Grey Horse at the house so yeah ;)
Also, as I pulled the trailer out, I recalled my wayward dressage whip out in the pasture and decided to find it (DID!). As I walked back to the truck I paused to look at the jumps and... decided to see how high they were. We used to do this after lessons in high school (trainer never told us heights, just to JUMP THE THINGS) so we'd go out and giggle over what we did. I rode with 40+ year old women so yeah... we rocked :P Most of the stuff today was about 2' or so but the oxer was somewhere in Starter/Beginner Novice territory so not bad for our what, third jumping session together?
I also sent off my Pine Hill GAG Schooling Show entry. I'm the man, I know ;)
Oh and the pad + KT tape worked well (not perfect but well). Keeping on with the search but EcoGold looks to be good for us. #champagnehorse
Gosh I'm not even sure how to write this post. I want it to be some sort of recap for what to work on/what happened in the lesson but just like last time, we did so many things so well and then BOOM horse looks like second level horse and I'm like EFFING RIGHT... and forgot how we got there over that hour.
So yeah, that happened again except we apparently are clicking much better as a team on the whole. For the ongoing pad/rubbing saga I decided to go with a nonslip pad I had laying around for Piper's barrel body and the Steffen Peters heavenly sheepskin pad. Also, we tried the KT tape for the FIRST TIME. I put the tape on as we were about to load in the trailer (after shaving and cleaning his back oiy) and headed out to Lurena's. It was SO awesome to be able to take a Wednesday afternoon lesson so I might try to work it where I can do this more.
Upon arrival, the tape as still in place so *hi5. We were there RIGHT on time so I kicked it into high gear getting him tacked up and mounted. I'm leery riding in my dressage saddle now as it seems to be the prime offender (ok, it's probably ME in the darn thing more than the saddle) so I choked that back and off we went. I gave Lurena the recap on the saddle rubbing issue and that it seems to basically be isolated to when I do left lead canter transition (seriously, I feel like my left seat bone is literally ripping his skin off when he steps off QQ).
We get started and here's what I recall doing:
10m circles with overflexing and counterflexing to warm up
serpentines at the walk
leg yields at the walk (both to the left and right, centerline and quarterline)
shoulders in at the walk
more over/counter flexing at the trot
working on sitting trot
some transitions from walk to trot on the circle
trotting 10m half circles
half halts half halts
shoulders in at the trot
left lead canter - going for any balance and any flexing, good downward transitions (no transition freakouts so looks like tape + saddle pad = win?)
left lead canter down the long side + walk transition
moar half halts
trotting 15m circles with no walls (middle of the ring)
trotting some other things
idk but it was awesome
back to trot and then right lead canter
right lead canter was nice so we worked on just circle, down the long side and some inside leg under things
trotting again... there were leg yields and shoulders in at some point
more idk but it was pretty
stretchy circle starts
I forgot more I'm sure but there you go....
During our last break/ending I asked about some of the 1st level loop things and we walked through that and then gave it a shot (we kinda rocked at it). We talked about some more positioning things during the test so I can get a better idea of what is expected at which level (since I always aim for MY perfect which is sometimes/normally MORE than what the goal is at that time).
So yeah, you can tell where I was with it and where I started to lose my mind as I was in the moment. The general gist was that we're looking really good, I need to work on my fitness (this is me saying it not her but my thighs and abs agree), stretchy circle (he's not bad, just needs to be better/more through), teaching him to learn how to follow my hips (requires me to use my hips more than they want to) for work not on the 20m circle, work on the canter (duh- again, me not her saying this), and yeah... I think that might be "all."
Also, when I took his saddle off (moment of truth, right?), it looked PERFECT under there. The tape worked exactly like a second skin and I was thrilled. Now the taking off of the tape was more dramatic and I left it on until Friday AM where when I pulled the edge up, things looked weepy and gross. I felt like a failure, but left the edges up for it to air out and when Friday PM rolled around, it looked... good. I ripped the tape off, did some ointment and threw him back outside.
So yeah, another lesson in the books and I'm starting to want to video them just so I can dissect wtf went on because I can't obviously trust my brain to work once body parts are on fire with pain. Also, there are mirrors there and while I don't think I look particularly BAD (I'm up 10 lbs from this spring due to all the cray cray things we're doing and not watching my foods like I should, plus giving up soda in Feb means anything I want that's not water has calories so yeah boo), its a reminder that I need to take the rest of this flab off my ass. I doubt Jade cares, but I'm sure Grey Horse would appreciate it. Not that he complains about anything though.