Saturday, July 22, 2017

Tiago Ernesto Clinic 7/8-7/9

Last weekend I headed back down to the Navasota/Brenham area to ride in an invitation-only clinic with Tiago Ernesto, the head trainer at Haras Dos Cavaleiros. If you're at all involved with Iberian horses or working equitation, you know Haras. The clinc itself was at Watts Way Arena, the last place I showed Dylan. The owners of Watts Way have fast become my friends and I was excited to have a chance to ride with someone as talented as Tiago. 

In July in Texas, it's HOT. This year has been especially weird because while temperatures have been slightly lower than usual - staying in the mid to upper 90s - the humidity has been outrageously high. I don't mind it being hot, but the humidity kills me. Remember this because it will come into play later.

Several of the people that were supposed to come to the clinic couldn't, as the original date has been scheduled for June and then later changed. (I originally couldn't go, but when they changed the dates I jumped on it!) There was also a lady who was supposed to bring a couple horses but then had the fuel pump in her truck go out, so all in all there were only about 5 or 6 riders a day. I was slated to ride late afternoon on Saturday, and then morning on Sunday, so that I could trailer in on Sat and then right back out again on Sunday without getting home to late. It's about a 4 hour trailer ride for me one way, if there is no traffic. 

It's hot. Yes that's sweat and dirt on Dylan's back!

I headed out by about 8:30am, only to run into I-35 being shut down not too far into my journey. Some other small bobbles and I arrived at about 1pm or so, with plenty of time to deposit Dylan in his stall, eat some pizza, and have a peach daiquiri. It was unbearably hot and humid in the arena - even though it's covered and the swamp coolers were running full steam, there was no wind at all that day, and therefore no breeze to stir the stifling hot air. The evening before, I had gotten a little heatsick while trying to clean out my trailer tackroom, and while I sat there in the arena sweating and watching the other riders, I started to feel like I was wilting. I drank and drank and drank all the water and Gatorade that I could force myself to down, knowing that my 4pm ride time was coming up. My friend J helped me tack up Dylan, and feeling like I had done all I could do to hydrate myself, I climbed on for my lesson.

What surprised me about Tiago is that he's a young guy. He can't be older than I am, if he's even that old at all. But he's an incredible rider and trainer. He watched Dylan and I warm up, whereupon I just trotted around posting for a bit and doing some stretchy canter to limber him up. For all that I'm excited that I can post again, I still don't seem to be able to do it all that well, and when Tiago came in the ring he told me right away that he thought I had an easier time in the canter than trot. He's not wrong, but I told him it's completely different when I sit versus when I trot, and I showed him that. He had that look on his face of "ah, yes, she's not lying." I told him one of the main problem I have is with changes - either they're fantastic or they're terrible, and there's not a lot of play inbetween. On the short diagonal, Dylan was starting to get flat and rushy into his changes, and I was too hot and tired to be able to keep that under control. So, we played with surprise changes in places he didn't expect them - down the quarterline, in the corners, random places around the arena, which really did help him. When he knows they're coming, he can get quite forward, and it's hard enough to keep him under control when I'm feeling great much less when I'm not.

We also played a bit with passage/piaffe, and whether Dylan knows how to do it. K said he has a bit of both started, and I've certainly sat on him when he was offering piaffe not on purpose, but this was the first time anyone has taken a stick and asked him from the ground to give it a try since I've had him. I'm not sure what Tiago was asking or how, but Dylan was not sure about it and didn't get a step of real piaffe. He did, however, offer something akin to passage and we went with that. I would trot along on the circle, then ask him to come up a bit more in front and almost feel like I'm sucking his back up higher through my thighs. It's a little bit hard to describe, but it came. As I understand it, having almost no experience whatever with it, every horse and rider has an individual way of doing piaffe or passage - installed a little differently, ridden a little differently. All lower level horses might be able to canter from the same cue, but not all upper level horses will learn passage from the same cue. Or something like that. Maybe? I don't know enough about it yet to say, but I hope to learn.

We also worked on bending him at the canter on a 20m circle - bending him to the left, bending him to the right, with no change of lead and no falling in or out. THAT was my undoing. I was already exhausted by this point but determined to carry on, and I don't really remember too much beyond this point because my head got all kinds of fuzzy. I just remember  when we finished, we had some good work, but Dylan was clear about the fact that he was stick-a-fork-in-it-done. He kept breaking to trot over and over, like he just couldn't hold it, and I probably looked like I was going to die myself. We both went to cool out, and both of us were panting exhausted. Dylan looked just as hot and miserable as I was - I stripped him of his tack straight away, and went right to the wash stall to start strip cooling him. Poor guy.... he skidded around in the wash stall three times like he was skating on ice, partly because the washstall was slippery and partly because I think he was just that tired. I felt like I was fully cooked to death, and I hosed myself off too. 

Back at the guest house, after thoroughly cooling Dylan down (although to be honest I don't remember much of what was going on, I think J moved my tack for me but I'm not sure), I flopped down onto the bed in the AC and closed my eyes for a few minutes. I slugged down as much Gatorade and water as I could handle, and eventually the room stopped spinning. A cool shower and some Ibuprofin (and more water) later, and I was feeling a bit more like myself. I checked on Dylan again, and he too was cool and eating and drinking. I felt good enough by that time to go out to Brenham with J and Tiago for some dinner and some ice cream. When we got back to the guest house, the other ladies staying there were all piling into their souped up ATV to go for a drunken midnight offroad adventure, which I of course decided to come along on. We were speeding through the night watching an approaching thunderstorm light the sky up with lightning, and I thought to myself, "I'm going to remember this night."

And apparently everyone in Brenham was also there that night

The next day I woke up fairly early, feeling much more like myself and glad to be riding early. My ride time was scheduled for 10am, which is much more reasonable. It seemed to be less humid too, which also helped. I asked J if we could set up some single slalom and double barrels in the ring, since I've had some trouble with both, and she agreed. Our warmup was a bit quieter than the day before, and Tiago again put us to work with some lead change work and some trot work, alternative between a fairly slow collected trot and some bouncier passage-ier trot.

I think instructors sometimes don't know what to do with us, because I generally come into a lesson going, "I'm having trouble with this thing." The instructor says okay, go do that thing and show me. So we go and do the thing, and it always goes fine, so the instructor then goes, "well... okay, but it's fine?" They also always tell me to go do a thing, and I go and do it, and it goes fine. Not to say that I'm any kind of great rider, but Dylan is a great horse who just does whatever you tell him to do. If I sit up and ride him well, it goes fine. If I ride like a sack of potatoes, it goes poorly of course, but if I can manage not to be too much of a weeble it's fine. Louisa always talks about how it's cool to teach us because she can tell us anything and we can just go out and do it for the most part, but that makes it hard for a new person to come in and teach. There just sort of aren't big huge problems. Or well, my big huge problems are hard to replicate because they usually only show up in competition. Tiago sent me off to work on the single slalom, only not the entire thing. We worked on doing the first pole, and then the last pole. And then adding in a pole, or just doing a single pole. He had me think about just pushing the horse over and changing leads versus doing big loops between the poles, as there isn't really enough room. He told me he thinks the single slalom is the toughest thing to do, and I agreed with him. But what he stressed to me made so much sense, and I just hadn't thought of it that way before - maybe you have to do it a certain way in competition, but in training there are no rules. If you want to do just one with a change, or two with a change, or a couple with changes here and there, you can! You don't have to do it one single way when you're training. You can do whatever you need to do in order to train the horse to change quietly and cleanly where he needs to. We applied the same thing to the double barrels - we made the circles as big as I needed to make them, and put the changes in where I needed to put them in to make them clean. Then we made the circles smaller, and the changes were still clean - so that fixed the issue and there wasn't anything to work on. He felt very strong to me and I didn't feel like I had good control and lightness with my canterwork, but Tiago said it looked just fine, so at least there was that. He's been a little strong in the canterwork in the snaffle, so I may put him back in the double on and off to help regain a little more lightness.

I also put J on him after our lesson was over - she trotted and cantered around on him and had a blast! He was a good boy for her, and she was all smiles. I sat on one of her Nokota horses the day before too, but just walked him, as he was just as sweaty and hot as Dylan was.

Yes, she wasn't minding her melon, but I was so that's what matters. 

It was a fun weekend, but slightly expensive. Worth it to get some good ideas through about training certain difficult obstacles. Changes are hard with Dylan as you need to sit perfectly in order to get them cleanly, and I only sit perfectly about 10% of the time. It's hard!

The heat was the biggest bummer of the weekend. I actually was so heatsick on Friday night that I locked my keys in my truck for the first time in my entire life, and didn't realize it until morning when I couldn't find them. I had to pay some guy a hundred smacks to come out on a Sunday morning and break into my truck for me. That sucked.

Dylan laughing at me

We were supposed to be at Haras this weekend for their Summer Festival show, which is a B-rated WE show. It was going to be really really hot, but J was going to be there, and she encouraged me to come. Unfortunately, due to the heat, the show was cancelled at the last minute. It was a real bummer, but I guess it's not too bad of a thing. It's SO hot, and it's only going to get hotter as we get into the thick of summer.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

End of June Analysis; July Goals; Midway Year Goals

Like most people I know - probably everybody - I can't believe half a year has flown by already. It seems like it's going extra fast this year, and I've been going nonstop crazy busy for the entirety of it! I've had so little time to blog all year and lately I've really been missing it. Which is a good thing, really.... when you miss something you make an effort to come back to it. 

This year for the first time I'm also going to check in with my yearly goals, and see where we are on the checklist. Some of these goals will be altered, some added, some deleted, and some of them are of course already completed! So far the year has been really successful, albeit entirely too busy. 

One more thing I'd like to do this next month - interact more with other bloggers. I read a lot of blogs, and do a lot of "oh damn I meant to catch up on this person's stuff", but I rarely comment. I'd like to make that effort, because as a whole bloggers have always been a really supportive, really fun and really interesting group of people. It's good to stay in better touch with the community. Admittedly I'm terrible in real life about keeping up with people I know too, so maybe it's just a general problem that I have. I'm stupidly busy and it leaves me little time for socializing. 


O-Ren June:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!
Success! She is a great momma horse. The best one I've had.

2) Try and successfully get bred, finally... we are almost out of time for this year. 
Well, we weren't successful here. I should have cultured her at the start of breeding season and for some reason I didn't, probably because of how easy it was to get her to catch last year with no culture needed. As a result, she had a minor uterine infection that needed to be cleared up. She's been back to the vet twice for treatments now, and should be in the clear - but now it's too late to breed. Texas is too hot and it's too hard on both neonates and broodies to have them late in the year. If they're not on the ground by early May, it's just too late in my opinion, unless you have a barn with stalls and a million fans (I do not). But, we'll put her back to work this year, toodle around and maybe do some shows, and then breed again in the spring. With a culture ahead of time, of course.

Cregga June:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!
Success! She's a great little babe. Kind of obnoxious with her mouth and not very fond of water, but she stands reasonably well for trimming, grooming, and flyspray. She also has had her mane clipped and did great, leads super well, and has been trailered several times now with mom to the vet. She still is weird about loading with the ramp - she always creeps to the side and jumps onto the trailer instead of walking up the ramp, I have no idea why though as she is happy to walk off the ramp! - but she gets on and rides well.

2) Send in registration papers
Success! She was also microchipped this month by the vet (which she was a pill about, but only for the tiny little needle with the local block). She no longer fits into the foal stocks at the vet (!!), so now she gets to go in the adult stocks. But anyway, the papers have been sent in and the microchip papers have been sent back - now we are just waiting for DNA paperwork to get here so we can pluck a few hairs. I also have to send some pictures of her to them, and maybe harass them some more about the DNA stuff which isn't here yet.

Dylan June:
1) More lessons! Both dressage and WE!
Success! The weather has been ridiculously uncooperative this month, with rain literally every weekend (in June... in Texas... wtf), but I was able to get in two lessons with Louisa and one with Tarrin. I'd like to take a lesson every other week with Louisa, and always am happy to get in with Tarrin ANY time she comes up this way, so this was a great month for me.

2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis - working towards 4th level!
We're getting there! Quarter pirouettes are no problem but I'm still learning about how to perfect the halves. 4-1 does not have any pirouettes in it, so if I don't get there quite yet that's not a big deal. 4-2 has quarter pirouettes, and 4-3 has half ones - it's actually a really cool progression in the tests. I'm confident in doing 5's, and sometimes I can bang out a couple 4's, but I'm really not solid in these yet because I get scrambled in my counting. Dylan also tends to get to the third change and wants to get fast and flat - not sure if this is him or me. I'm pretty confident I could go out and do 4-1 right now and not make a total embarrassment of myself. K reminded me a few days ago that he isn't nominated for All Breed Awards but he SHOULD be, and all I need is one more score at 3-3 to get nominated. The cut off date is Aug 1, but if you pay a late fee you can submit scores through the end of Aug (and Sept, but for even more $$). So, probably what I will do is do another dressage show at the end of Aug and do 3-3 and try 4-1!

3) Compete in the Decatur WE show!
Well we would have, and we were ready to go - but it was cancelled due to weather! Oh well. It was rescheduled for November so we'll just go then!

Pangea/Frank June:
1) Pony some babies - maybe! 
Frank ponied Pax once this month - and it went great. If the weather stays nice he'll keep dragging babies! Not P though... she's looking pretty rough this summer. We'll see what happens with her.

2) Frank especially - head out for more trails! If it's not too hot!
It's too hot! 

Pax/Uma June:
1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 
Success! But that's a pretty easy goal to meet!

Zu June:
1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
He hasn't been yet, but only because I pulled the divider out of my trailer due to having to take O and Cregga back and forth to the vet so many times. Dylan has been riding in the trailer without the divider and does fine, but I can't really take anyone with him until I put it back in. I'll make Future Hubs help me with that since it's a heavy and super annoying task.

2) Lunging with harness
Success! Mostly he's been going with a surcingle, but it's fine, because he lunges fine with either.

3) Wearing bridle
Success! Everybody likes that little thin mullen mouth I have. He still needs to wear it more until he's *really* used to it but he's doing super well.

4) Start back with long lining, small amounts, if lunging is going well
Haven't done this yet but honestly I think I need a handler to help me really connect the dots in his head, and unless I can talk Future Hubs into it, it may not happen just yet. 

Sriracha June:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
Success! And we did a bit of free jumping with her and Zoodle too, sort of.

2) Wearing bridle
Success! She too likes the little mullen mouth more than anything else.

3) Wearing harness
She's been wearing a surcingle but not a harness - because my mini harness is a moldy old partly broken piece of crap. 


O-Ren July:
1) Continue being a good momma horse!
2) Get back to work.... start riding again! And driving again? Depending on the tiny brat child and how unhelpful she is... I don't need the kid climbing into my carriage. 

Cregga June:
1) Continue learning about leading, brushing, feet handling, bathing, and clipping!
2) Finalize registration papers - if the stuff ever gets here...
3) Learn a bit more about walking/trotting in hand and standing still, like she would need to do for a show

Dylan June:
1) Regular lessons and clinics! Both dressage and WE!
2) Continue working on pirouettes and 4-tempis as usual
3) Compete in the Haras summer show... as a prep for the actual Haras Cup!! 
4) Ride in a clinic with Tiago Ernesto!

Frank June:
1) Pony some babies - maybe! Trails if it's not too hot!

Pangea/Pax/Uma June:
1) Grooming/trimming every 2 weeks 

Zu June:
1) Go off property with Dylan for lessons
2) Lunging with harness
3) Wearing bridle

Sriracha June:
1) Lunging - walk and trot
2) Wearing bridle
3) Wearing harness



~ 2017 Goals! Midway Year Review ~


Dylan 2017 Goals:

1) Compete 3rd/4th level on Dylan (USDF)
- So far - have competed at 3rd and have qualified for SW Championships and Regionals as well as secured Bronze scores at 3rd!

2) Compete at Intermediate level in Working Equitation
- Intermediate B to be more precise - and have been very successful so far!

3) Compete at the Haras Cup
- This is in October and we're planning to be there!

4) MAYBE - IALHA Nationals
- Probably not, since Regional are literally wrapping up the day before Nationals starts... but I MAY take Cregga to Nationals instead!

5) MAYBE - Andalusian World Cup
- This one is going to be a definite no. With a brand new truck to pay for as well as alllll this other stuff going on.... too far and too expensive. Maybe next year! Or maybe in the future with Cregga.

1) Compete 3rd/4th level (USDF)
2) Compete at Intermediate B level in Working Equitation
3) Compete at the Haras Cup
4) Attend Southwest Dressage Championships, and Region 9 Regionals
5) Compete in and complete 4 of the 5 Heart of Texas WE Series Shows


O-Ren 2017 Goals:

1) Have a happy, healthy, bouncing baby!
- A huge success! What a nice baby too.

2) Consider whether or not we are breeding her back for a second time
- Well, we tried but did not succeed.... but we will plan on breeding her back next year.

1) Have a happy, healthy, bouncing baby!
2) Put her back to work! Under saddle and in harness
3) Maybe show in a Games Day show? Or play around with some WE?


Pax 2017 Goals:
1) Continue baby school - wearing a bridle, being ponied on the trails, etc.
- Pax is doing great, right where I want her to be for her age. She is ponying better than she ever has, which means come winter she'll be more than ready to go off property for ponies. She wears a bridle and has worn a saddle too.

2) Show in the FEH at Meadowcreek (and maybe some other small in-hand shows for fun?)
- Success! She also showed in the Texas Rose FEH and was 2nd (out of two... but whatever.) She was dead last at Meadowcreek but I knew she would be... she's not exactly Rolex quality. What was more important was getting her off property by herself and having to do something. It did really make a difference for her!

3) Keep growing up and being a horse! 
- Success! And she'll keep on doing just that until next year.

1) Continue baby school - wearing a bridle, being ponied on the trails, etc.
2) Show in the FEH at Meadowcreek (and maybe some other small in-hand shows for fun?)
3) Keep growing up and being a horse! 

Pax has met all of her yearly goals!


P 2017 Goals:

1) Go on some trail rides! 
- She's been on two and that's the end of that. She's sort of dwindling towards the afterlife at the moment so I don't expect I'll be back on her ever again, save for maybe one more ride before she leaves the planet, whenever that is. She's not doing so great as we come to the midway point of the year... so we'll just see.

2) Continue being the resident baby-dragger
- Frank is the resident baby-dragger now!

1) Hang in there until she's not ready to hang in there any more.


Lendri 2017 Goals:

1) Continue trying to make her a driving moole!
- Even though I hitched Lendri a few times, I had that bad gut feeling that it was not a good idea and that I shouldn't do it any more. So... I stopped. And in March Lendri went to a client's house to keep her foundered horse company! It was a great thing - she and the horse love each other, and the people love her, and I get to see her every 3 weeks and keep an eye on her. It couldn't have been a better arrangement. They renamed her Clementina and they're in love with her.


Zoodle 2017 Goals:

1) Continue to solidify lunging
- Goal in progress. He continues to get better and better at this!

2) Teach long lining and long line all over the place!
- Haven't done this yet... but I need to!

3) Take him off property for lots of exposure and despooking!
- Still haven't done this yet... but again, I need to!

4) Later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects
- Need to get goals 2-3 better accomplished first!

1) Continue to solidify lunging
2) Teach long lining and long line all over the place!
3) Take him off property for lots of exposure and despooking!
4) Later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects


Sriracha 2017 Goals:

1) Continue regular handling as usual
- Success - but she always needs more. The more time I put into her the better she is.

2) Continue learning to lunge
- Success! And she is still learning!

3) Teach to long line
- Not yet.., and I think she will be a little while before she ever does. Lunging to her sometimes still means "running away from the person in the middle, in a circle."

4) Maybe later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects
- We will see how far we get with this one! She's a tough little booger and she lives up to her name for sure!

1) Continue regular handling as usual
2) Continue learning to lunge
3) Teach to long line
4) Maybe later in the year - learn about drag shafts and dragging small objects


Uma 2017 Goals:
1) Continue growing up and being a moole!
- Uma is Pax's age so she has a lot of growing up left to do before we decide if she's big enough to drive or not!

2) Continue regular handling - and later in the year, start introducing simple concepts of lunging and wearing harness
- Haven't done this yet but I think she will handle it pretty well! She does wear boots and that's just fine.

1) Continue growing up and being a moole!
2) Continue regular handling - and later in the year, start introducing simple concepts of lunging and wearing harness


Big Frank 2017 Goals:

1) Go on some trail rides!
- Haven't trailered him anywhere but he's been ridden all over the neighborhood and is great! He doesn't love being ridden alone but he's happy to go with a baby in tow.

2) Teach him to pony? 
- Now he ponies like a champ! He's great at it because he's so big he can just plod along and drag them as he needs to.

1) Go on some off property trail rides! With babies in tow!


What I wrote in January at the end of the post:

"I think it's going to be a good one. My biggest focus this year is going to of course be Dylan, but I also want to prep and show Pax in the FEH (and maybe some schooling shows in hand?), and I want to make sure Zoodle gets the exposure he needs. I have a lot of hopes for show season, we're getting married this year (finally after being engaged for like four years), I hope to buy a new truck this year, and of course O's foal is coming. There are other things too which are just as exciting but less relevant to the blog. I'm not quite sure which direction our country is heading in at the moment, but I fully intend on making the best of it either way."

This has largely held up to all be true. Dylan has been and continues to be my main focus - the mules have gotten less work than I expected because I've been too busy focusing on Dylan, but that's all right. Pax has competed in two FEH classes and not killed anybody. Zoodle should be starting to travel off property within short order. The wedding planning is well underway but of course not anywhere near done!! I did buy a new truck and I love it, although the truck payment sucks and it did take a big dent out of my show fund. O's foal is of course here and every bit at awesome as I had hoped.

So far, a pretty successful and awesome year, I'd say. Here's to the next 6 months! This is when it's going to get REEEEEALLY crazy!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Riding Riding Riding

It seems so weird and exciting to say this, but I've been riding a LOT lately, and not just on Dylan. I have been riding him of course, obviously, but I also have been riding Frank,and the other day I had a wild hair and decided to saddle up O herself and see what happened. Yes, O!

Dylan is a good boy

I've been feeling really physically good lately, like my leg is mostly functional and mostly pain free. I know this sounds completely stupid, but I've been able to post lately... post! Posting is a big deal. I haven't been able to post at all in maybe 3 YEARS because it would leave me completely crippled. When you can post, you can deal with greener horses. I could get around it before with Dylan because I could warmup in walk and canter, and then move to sit the trot, but it's only because he's advanced enough for that. (Now that I can post though, our warmups are so much better because I can really get him stretching and loose.) But I've been sort of thinking about O and wanting to get her back into a bit of work without the risk of having a baby jumping into a carriage with us - and maybe wanting to try some WE with her too. I've thought about it in the past and she might not handle it well, but Intro level is pretty simple walk and trot stuff. Maybe we could give it a try!

O has not been ridden in nearly 3 years though, save for one or two hacks here and there. She was actively driving up until June last year, but hasn't been in work at all since then. Dylan and Cregga FREAKED when I pulled her out, and she did wiggle and scream for them some, but she also ate from her haybag and stood to be groomed and tacked. I picked the trusty ol' bloo bit for her, took her back out to the field, and hopped on. 

And she was perfect. I feel like my defensive habit of getting stuck in chair seat with my lower leg pushed forward has been steadily evaporating, and she was happy to let me put my leg on her. She's so NARROW compared to Dylan... like riding a wobbly broomstick versus a thick sturdy sequoia. Riding him has made me so very aware of every little movement. 

I think it's time to put her back to work. 

Cregga not happy that mom was out and about... here she is about to run into the water trough


I've also been back on Frank after a hiatus off of him. I hadn't ridden him all last month just because I've been too busy, and it's been raining constantly. I hopped on him the other day and took Pax for a drag around - the first time I had done something with her since her last show in April.


Despite what that last picture suggest, she was amazing. She was still very jiggy and hot and spooky the last time I took her out, but her two in hand shows really seem to have made an impression on her. She was completely cool and calm. And since she felt so collected and Frank felt so good, I think it's entirely possible that when the weather cooperates they'll be more than ready to go on off property trails together. 

And last but certainly not least, Dylan has been going great under saddle. Here's a clip from our latest lesson with Louisa - the exercise we were doing was renvers to a 10m circle to shoulder in down the long side, then medium across the diagonal, to really activate the hind end. As you can see it pretty clearly worked!

When he's not in lessons, he goes for hacks...

That mane.... :/

And rides at WD of course.


He's going great. I'm feeling better and better, and starting to ride less like a weeble and more like a proper person again. It takes so much time and effort, but I am getting there. I am getting there!

Since I decided I should give WE a try with O, I decided I should also break Dylan to drive. What do you think?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lessons Reports, and Weather

I had two lessons this week or so - one with Louisa, one with Tarrin. I was also supposed to have a lesson two weekends ago with Tarrin but it got rained out, much to everyone's surprise. Rain in June? In Texas? What is happening? 

Both of these instructors are complementary to each other in that they both have similar things to say about the horse, and the same ideas about how to get there, but with different (but complementary) ways of executing things. Louisa uses a lot of visual imagery, which is a learning style I process very well. Tarrin is excellent at pinpointing an issue and prompt to get you right to fixing it. Both of them are focused on me as a rider, because both know how much changing something in my body alters this horse. All of his issues are not really *his* issues, they are *my* issues. And when they fix me, it fixes him, automatically. This is why he is so completely priceless - he doesn't tolerate fools, and he doesn't give you any freebies whatever, but he's also completely safe. He makes you work for it, and makes you be correct, but the second you get it, he gives all of it to you.  

Dylan is shocked that old man Gringo (who wanders loose on the property) would come and steal *his* cookies right out of the tack room

In the lesson with Louisa, I started out with a really, really, really relaxed stretchy warmup. Up until a few months ago I was not able to post at all due to the pain in my leg, but during and after the last show at Tyler, I started giving it a try. Much to my delight I've been getting better and better at it, and with less and less pain. It sounds so stupid to be struggling with something so simple - I'm showing 3rd level and I can't freaking post? - but it truly was causing me pain beyond what I can even describe. Now though, with all my physical therapy, I'm posting mostly pain free and can now utilize that whenever I need to. 

Where I've been using it is in my warmups. I've been making so much more use of stretchy work at the walk and trot instead of doing warmups at the walk and canter (because that's just how you have to do it when you can't post). As a result, I'm able to unlock his back that much faster, and relax him that much more. He really does like to stretch, but he's just as quick to get short and tense at the base of his withers, much like every other Spanish horse on planet Earth. But when I start my warmups with a long, loose, stretchy walk and trot, it loosens all of that up and it warms my muscles up too, so that I can find where I need to be better and faster.

I put him back in the snaffle for our lesson and have kept him back in the snaffle. The pelham is getting shelved for the time being, because Dylan is just *better* with it. As always, the more I just pretend like I don't have reins, the better he goes. When I get to micromanaging his face, everything goes down the toilet. We warmed up at the walk and posting trot, just doing some simple bending and stretching. Then we got to more of the meat - cantering squares with quarter pirouettes in each corner. It's exactly the same thing - just forget about your reins beyond simple positioning, and move him with your body. In pirouettes especially, which I am just learning about, my first instinct is to tilt which makes me lose my inside seatbone. The second that lifts off the saddle, he's quick to spin through his pirouettes almost like he wants to be a reiner, and he'll swap out behind. But if I really sit down and think about things in slow motion, he is a thousand times better. I just have to think my way through them. 

There wasn't too much else that we were deeply focused on, aside from a few flying changes. He was a little slow to switch from right to left, but we edged around that by cantering down the long side in a bit of shoulder fore to the rail, and then executing the change on the far side of the ring. He's been so good with his changes that I honestly think he was more tired than he wanted to admit after doing the quarter pirouettes (or, maybe I was). When we got back home, Dylan also had a chiropractic appointment that showed he was much looser in his withers but had both hips out - so that also probably wasn't helping much!
Even though it wasn't too complicated of a lesson, the work was just so quality. It felt so good. It felt SO good. All of that stretching in the beginning meant all of the execution of things was just so fluid and so connected and just so good. If I can get that kind of connection everywhere.... that will be magical indeed.

Yesterday I rode with Tarrin again in preparation for the scheduled show today (stay tuned for an update on that at the end of the post). There are rules in the Confederation for WE that state that private instruction from a judge ahead of a show is not legal, but a clinic held by that judge right before a show is, which I think is really great. We rode at 8am, which I was very thankful for given the fact that it's about 113 degrees outside right now with high levels of humidity. Tarrin asked me first thing what I was wanting to work on, and I talked to her more about the last show and what I think went wrong. She pointed out his one major flaw - he likes to lose his haunches out towards the right. He does this in both directions and it's something I don't always really realize is happening until it's too late. To combat this, she parked herself in the middle of the dressage course and held one end of the garrocha pole, while I held the other. I had to go around her in walk, trot, and canter while holding the pole in one hand in both directions. I was not supposed to move her, or move my hand - the pole was supposed to stay perfectly balanced in the same spot between us. Talk about HARD - it completely relies on use of your body while trying to keep the horse on a perfect 10m circle, including through transitions.

Dylan's first inclination in that exercise is to drift his haunches toward the right. And as usual, this is mostly something I allow him to do without realizing it - I'm stronger in one direction than the other, so if I am not definitive enough with my outside leg and seatbone, I lose the haunches. It's not something you would even really see if you were watching us go, because it's very minor - but this exercise highlighted it. And it's not something that makes too much of a difference when we're doing simple things, but it gets amplified during changes or pirouettes. By the end of the exercise, I was so much more aware of the problem than I had been before. And it makes total sense.

From there, Tarrin had me ride my entire dressage test one handed. Now remember, I have almost no experience with real one handed riding, much less one handed dressage. Dylan does not neck rein. Or well, he sort of does like the rest of my horses do when we toodle on a long rein on the trails - they just sort of pick it up but it's certainly not like actual western horse neck reining. I wasn't really sure how it would go.

To my surprise, it went much better than I expected. What a surprise... when you ride with your body the horse goes well, who knew right!? He had no problem whatever with walk half passes and walk pirouettes - they were just as good as with two hands, which surprised me. The trot work wasn't stellar, more like not-quite jogging, but he leg yielded well and was responsive. I had some trouble with my reins getting too long, and had to adjust them a few times. Tarrin said short reins are my friend - that way I am never tempted to pull back, only to lift upward slightly if I need it, and make small adjustments left or right. The canter work started out a little funky, as I was struggling to figure out how best to keep him straight, but once I got a little more organized the canter instantly got better. If I just stay out of his way with my reins, he's got it, but the second I get a little too one sided or a bit heavy in the contact, he's all kinds of crooked. I have a tendency to be a little heavier on my left rein when I ride one handed, and Dylan made that perfectly clear when I came in for my first flying change from left to right... and he kept counter cantering on the left. He was just doing exactly what I asked even though I did not mean to ask for it. We tried again, I got organized and sat in balance, and he had a perfect change. Our next two changes were also perfect and not only were clean, but were straight and with the same good cadence coming out of them as going into them.

I actually really enjoyed riding one handed. I felt like it forced me to be better because I didn't have a choice, I didn't have the crutch of reins. Not only that, but the horse became perfectly soft and round in front as soon as I had full control of his body.

I am an awfully long way from going Advanced even though it's just the next level up, but I'm starting to feel like... maybe I could do it. (Although, if you look at the dressage test and imagine riding that with one hand... might be awhile before we ever get there.)

It was a good lesson and it wasn't actually too heavy on the workload, which was good because at 8am it was already a billion degrees. We got our coursemaps for the show, looked them over, and then headed back home to finish prepping for today.

And then today actually happened.....

What the hell!?

I was awakened at about 1am by a house shaking roar of thunder. Not surprisingly, after wave after wave of deluge, the show was cancelled this morning and rescheduled to November. So that's the second time in a month that Tarrin drove up here to Decatur and then got rained out. Damnit all!

Out of two planned clinics and a show this month, I only got to ride in the one clinic. Boooo. Next month I also have a clinic (with Tiago) and a B-Rated show at Haras. Both of those places have indoors so they shouldn't be cancelled unless there is something dire happening! I need to go back over my show schedule beyond that and confirm what I really want to be shooting for in the fall too.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Another Photo Dump

As usual I have all sorts of good photos to share from this past month.

Zu will be 3 in July! Wearing a bridle and surcingle and lunging so much better 

Ehhh.... right. They obviously can't actually breed since he's gelded and they're sterile anyway but they like to... posture. 


Never. Ending. 


Frank has been shedding for 5 months now. Next year I'm just going to clip him and be done with it

Pmare looking sort of eh going into summer. She is 21 now

Mules... so sassy. 


Pax has started cycling regularly and Frank is the recipient of all her affections. 

Zoodle lunging like a champ

Sriracha  also lunging, with surcingle and bridle 

Did I mention I broke my big toe and dislocated my thumb recently...

Free jumping

Ladies looking shiny

More lunging!



Another mule! Wait no it's just Pax

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cregga, 4 Months Old

Cregga will be FOUR months old in three days! I sticked her about a week ago and she is THIRTEEN HANDS. THIRTEEN. 

She is almost completely shed out of her babymange stage. She is now a very pretty steel color, sort of bay-ish still but with lots of white hairs. I am not sure what color she wants to be and she's not either, so we're just going with whatever it is. The steel has changed to sort of more brown with the exposure to our hot Texas sun. I imagine she won't stay dark for very long.

From bay with some shedding....

Chasing Moo

So pretty

The Bullfighter Babe

To more shedding...

Future Hubs and the Mangey

Wtf is even happening with that shag rug coat

I took O out to give her a bath one day and Cregga was NOT having it. She took the opportunity to try out for the Spanish Riding School. 

So fresh so clean

That courbette tho!

We trailered O and Cregga out for baby's first ever trip to the vet, and first ever trailer ride. It took a minute for her to get on the trailer, and she insisted on jumping in instead of putting her feet on the ramp, but she did trailer well and loaded back in just fine. 

Unfortunately the reason for the vet visit was to check and see if O was pregnant, and she was not. We bred back again this month and we find out on Monday if she is pregnant, but I'm pretty sure she isn't. We've had all sort of breeding trouble this year and I'm pretty sure we're not getting anything out of it. But, we will try again next year. 

Being a good girl at the vet

Dad's girl

What color is that....


Returning the pest favor

And the Pestimus Maximus

The mohawk was getting out of control...

So I roached it. Half clipped it and half scissored it since the clippers died. She did well with the clippers!

I was also able to get some more video of the babe in action. Man she can move!!!!

Gigantisaurus Rex

Cregga comparison 2 days old and 3.5 months old

Cregga and Future Hubs - newborn, 5 weeks, 12 weeks, 16 weeks

She has gotten better about all of the things she wasn't too sure about. At 4 months old she clips, leads, ties, bathes, trailers, stands to be trimmed (within wiggly baby reason), and wears a flymask and flyspray. Although like dad, she doesn't love wet things on her. 

Why am I wet ITCH IT OFF

Smelling and marking mom's pee spot.... idk why. And I have no idea what color she is trying to be as of today!

Taken today

We will find out if she has a sibling for next year on Monday, although I'm pretty sure she does not. Disappointed there.... I really like this cross.