Wednesday, August 29, 2018

This is not the dining room table....

....yet here I am, day after day, sitting in a chair.

I HATE THE CHAIR SEAT POSITION. I hate that even though I feel like my legs and core are stronger than they have been in nearly 3 years, I am still getting this ugly seat.

I think part of it is my saddle. Wintec Pro dressage saddle. But.... I learned to ride in an eq/hunter barn, where no matter what you were riding in, you learned to have proper eq and a classical seat. So I feel like there is no excuse.

It's all fun and games until I start really needing my leg for lateral work or to just get either of them to not cut corners. Then up into the chair they go.

I did the thing and asked a dressage group because, no, I haven't taken a lesson yet. Which I really really should. So much so. 2 miles down the road. No excuses, really. They said the saddle needed to be lifted up in the front, drop my irons a hole or 2, stop shoving my heel down (this has always come quite naturally to me and I find it hard to fight...) and use my core to stabilize my seat. I've been working on all of this. I've been doing leg and core work outs about every other night as well. It's still not pretty but maybe in 2 months, I can be a little less ugly at our first show.

I'm going to take off the flex irons because I think they encourage it in this saddle. Their better for short stirrups in my cc saddle. And I really wish I had someone to take proper pics.......

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

OTTB's Have the Best Lead Changes

They really do. Because it's been so mushy by the barn where my "arena" is set up, I haven't been able to canter in over a week. Not a big deal. It makes it hard for me to get him to stretch out and down at the trot. But it's just so much fun and we have to start working on coming back to a nice trot after cantering eventually if I plan to do Training Level 1. It's not so much the area where there's grass, it's the bare clay/soil from where the water line went in that trips us up. Literally. It's very slippery when the least bit wet.


Curtis and I have been having very nice walk-trot rides. He's still a bit stubborn off my left leg but we're working on it and he does better when I DON'T carry a dressage whip (usually it's just for flies but I forgot it one day and realized it annoys him for me to have it so.......). Personally, I've been really focusing on fixing my chair seat. It's terrible.

selectively chose a pic where we weren't at our worst...

Last night I wasn't even going to ride him because it was almost dark, but it's going to rain and storm all day today so I tacked up. It was also dry and after we did our lateral work and some transitions, I asked him to canter. He picks up the right lead perfectly. Which surprises me because that's the bad leg. His left lead is harder to get. I cranked his head around and kicked up over up into the left lead from his canter on the right lead and he did such a flawless change I hardly even felt it. I still can barely get Twister to do flying changed even when I'm stabbing him with a spur. But Curtis just went right into it.

i really need someone to come get decent pics of us

His canter is great and very easy and fun to ride. We worked on just having a steady beat and getting into a smaller circle (we start out using the whole arena and eventually cut down to about 30m). After the lead change I actually whooped and told him good boy and laughed and my neighbors all probably think I'm nuts but he's just so much fun.

sure, he looks asleep until he starts to gallop up the hill....

On the Twister front, we're training for another hunter pace. Because we all want to make time this time around. He trains like a 4 year old racehorse and I need either another bridle or another set of reins so I can use a stronger bit on him and easily change bits between riding him and Curtis. I jumped him last night a few times and did some area work a couple nights ago. I think he needs to come to a dressage show in November too.

ignore me. just look at the beast.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Making Progress

Last week I thought Curtis and I were getting no where. We did some light work last week in a hackamore. He had Friday and Saturday off. I rode Sunday and Monday, lightly. Walk trot. Off Tuesday. Wednesday bareback and then yesterday and today he was amazing.

Our first bareback ride was awesome. I knew my tiny human wasn't going to give me very long, so I didn't bother with tack and literally rode for 5 mins. I worked on our 90* of turn on the forehand to the left and right. He listens better to my leg to the right. No surprise there. We worked on our leg yields. Also better off my right leg, for the most part. And then I turned him out because my child was screaming on the monitor....

Instead of having my hands and reins all over, I've been riding him like I would Twister. And I think riding him bareback helped something click for him. Because I can use very little rein aid and do most of my riding with my legs now. Unlike Twister, he is light in my hands, doesn't grab the bit and try to yank me off the saddle.........

Today we introduced leg yields at the trot and when I pushed him over with my right leg he just moved right over. It was very smooth for a first time. We had a bit of a fight off my left leg but I was pretty happy anyways.


And then today I parked him between 2 trot poles and asked him to back up and for the first time he just backed right up.


He's stretching down and out more. he's becoming round around my legs. he's accepting light contact. A week ago I thought there was no way we could make a show in November but today I think it's plausible. I really want to do more cantering but now that he's doing well at walk and trot, it's too wet for cantering.

I ride him 4-5x a week. I ask him to do a lot in a 20 minute ride. But he seems to retain more and do better when given a lot of challenges in a short amount of time. And I make sure to give him an easy, fun day. I hardly ever give him a mental break in our 20 minute rides, and he doesn't seem to need it. Not yet anyways.

And by the way, how cute is my tiny human on her Curtis? Once she's ready to start showing in 4 or 5 years, I'm totally losing my horse hahaha

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hunter Pace

Twister and I went on our first hunter pace yesterday. We were invited along on the trip only 2 weeks ago and I've only been popping on him once a week or less. So I was hoping we could keep up. At home for the last 2 weeks I've been galloping and jumping in a mechanical hackamore and it was the only bridle in my box when we pulled out of the driveway yesterday.

It was about 50 mins away from us on a very nice farm. They have a fox hunting club there and start hunts next weekend. While my trailer can easily hold 3 horses, the back is still messed up from when we took Phil to his last race with us and the middle part that keeps the back doors locked just freaking fell off. We have butt bars and tied the back doors shut but I really didn't think it was a good idea to put other people's horses in there. Twister I put in the middle part so he was no where near the broken doors. He hates leaving his buddies and was a sweaty mess when I pulled him off an hour late.

Standing tied for 45 mins to the trailer, he was such a grown up. No hay. Just tied with a bungee and he just chilled out and watched all the other horses, no screaming or being ridiculous. Such a change from 3 years ago. Even after the ride when I left him tied with hay for close to 2 hours he looked bored. 3 years ago he would not have been so happy about being left alone, even with horses near by.

so dashing

So anyways. We dressed up for the costume contest and we won 3rd. No one was going to let a bunch of adults beat an adorable little girl wearing a hula skirt on a pony. Silks are hot. Especially my lycra ones and I was soaking wet. Next year we pick a cooler theme if we dress up. Like margaritas in the Bahamas...

dressed as racehorses, not a TB among us hahaha

Twister was a total beast. He walked around the grounds all calm on a loose rein and when we trotted through those starting cones he put his head down and pulled. For a fat, out of shape, middle aged quarter horse, he sure acted like a 6 year old fresh off the track horse. There was a little muddy ditch that I had to force him to walk through because if I'd just given him his head he would have cleared it and probably slipped in the mud and fallen on his face. We were a non jumping team and my teammates didn't have any desire to jump but I wanted to use it as a xc school and pick and choose what we jumped. Some of the jumps were not that big and perfect for us, especially with our limited jumping the last couple years. Some looked small as you came up to them and you got 5 strides out and said um yea no and went around. A few times I re-jumped something because hell, we weren't making time anyways. He was a little looky. But mostly I was very hesitant and cautious and it held him back. When we'd come back through for a 2nd time and I got out of his way he was awesome. He's so much fun to jump if I get out of his way.

Quite a few times, especially up hills, Twister would put his head down and crow hop and take off. He wanted to race everyone and was basically a beast the whole entire time. I kind of wished I'd put something stronger in his mouth....maybe a 3 ring..... For as little as he's been worked this summer, once he was hosed off and had a drink, 10 mins grazing in the shade and he was back to normal.

It was a 5 mile ride and optimal time for non-jumpers was 1:06 and we were like 1:30-ish so we were no where close. But we know for next year what optimal time is and can train for it. Because the winners loot is GOOD. Like fly sheets, saddle pads, gift certificates, large bottles of shampoo/ointment. If you win you basically make your money back in loot.  For 3rd for costume we got a medal, a little Kerrits zipper bag, a very nice hat which my person will probably steal from me, an Ariat hot/cold cup and a little bottle of horsie shampoo.

Just in passing on Fb while I was laying on the couch last night being exhausted, I saw that there is one at the Horse Park in a month which is also about an hour from here. I kinda wanna ask if they want to go to that one too. Because I had a great time and Twister really loved it. He's been jealous of all the time I've spent with Curtis this summer. As much as I love Curtis, Twister will always be my #1.

And omg, I've already washed these twice but they're still so dirty looking!!!! I don't care about what the boots cover but the rest?! But of course we were jockeys so I had to wear white breeches. Any tricks? Or should I just get them drycleaned???????

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Omg my horses are getting shoes tomorrow. Which is fantastic because Twister mans up but Curtis is getting sore again. I've only been walking him.

Really struggling with the stretching again too. I think I'm going to switch to a fat snaffle and see how he goes. Maybe even a hackamore.

Am I totally unreasonable to think I can take this horse to a show in 3 months?? Starting Monday or the Monday after I'm going to start taking lessons. At least every other week if not every week. I just feel like after 5 weeks of consistent riding we should be moving along more. But then again I haven't done this start to finish ever. And the last time I restarted a horse he was a total douchebag and all I did was fight with him and eventually sold him to someone who was not bothered by his douchebagginess.

basically all we've done lately

Saturday, August 4, 2018

August Goals

So a few days late but I thought I should do this post because I'm actually riding on a normal basis and training up for something as opposed to how I've spent most of the nice weather this year: hacking and messing around, riding infrequently.

-Continue riding 5-6 days a week (Curtis, and getting on Twister when possible because between the two of them I'm going to have gorgeous legs just in time for leggings and hoodie weather lol)

-Get more stretchy, bendy around my leg strides per circles until we can do a whole circle

-Pick up the left lead canter without brawling.

-Ride him around the back field alone, calmly, no spooking or bolting back to the barn ✔
        -Did this today and he was awesome. He looked at things but walked nice and relaxed the whole lap and didn't pull back to the barn. Tomorrow we do it in the evening when neighbors are out to be scary 

-Go to a lesson! I can take them on Mondays literally 2 miles away. So I just need to hook up and go. I think having some advice and instruction from someone on the ground will be a huge help.

I'm keeping it simple. Yes, I want to go to a dressage show in November. But I need to just do one thing at a time and build on it.

Friday, August 3, 2018

What he likes

This morning Curtis remembered all the things. He needed very little reminder about my left leg being there and stretched and moved off my leg so much better today. I didn't even ride yesterday! When we trotted he's stretch and move around my leg every few strides for a stride or 2. It's little and I feel like we should be so much further along but I'll take what I can get a build on it from there.

When I asked him to canter he wants to just trot really super fast. So I brought him back to a slower paced, more even trot and asked again. He picks up his right lead better than his left. I had to really stay on him to keep him cantering because he is fat and lazy.

When I asked him to come back to a trot, he comes right back down. I half halted and slowed my post and got him to come right back to a slower-tempo and stretch through his back down into the bit and remember my leg was there and to not cut corners.

I've found what is working best for him, and I hope it doesn't mess us up in the long run, is to keep my reins a bit loose. When I circle I take the outside rein and hold it above the billett strap on my saddle pad and take the inside rein and open it as a guiding rein toward my inside knee and slightly turn my hips and shoulders, like riding a bike all while pushing him over with my inside leg. I try to be very quiet with my hands and hold them steady and let my body be the half halts as I post. When he isn't getting it, I just quietly open and close my fingers.

I've also spent more time at the walk at the beginning of a ride that I have been. I leg yield and do 10 meter circles and figure-8s to get him soft. Today was 100x better than 2 days ago.

And then I rode Twister who I just get on and put through his paces like nothing. Then my trainer (SJ lol) told me I needed to go jump the logs by the garage. And then Twister became Mr Chip. The 3rd time we came around to it, I gave him a kick and a kiss and got him to take off at a decent distance. When did Mr OverJump and Scope turn into the horse who is on top of the damn jump before he takes off?!

Also no one has shoes on. Tomorrow I need to try the Easyboot Gloves under bell boots to see if they stay on Twister for next weekend. And Curtis doesn't do so well on the damp morning grass, but he doesn't feel sore anymore. I still have to trim his hinds. I think I can do it maybe 1 at a time while he munches hay or oats. As bribery to not kick me.........

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Did my left leg fall off?

Nope. It's there. Does Curtis acknowledge its existence? Nope.

Monday I took him back to basics. Asking him to move off my leg at a walk and stretch down. Then asking for the same at the trot. He was doing pretty good and we had some moments. Some only a few seconds, some that lasted for a whole 10 meter circle at the walk or 20 at the trot. Then I cantered him. It's the first time I ever cantered him and it was awesome. His canter is absolutely his best gate. It's uphill and even and smooth.

I rode Twister right after Curtis that day and Twister is a dump truck compared to Curtis.

Though it was nice to get on Twister and ask him to be bendy and round and he did all the dressagey things and even picked up his leads and had a canter that didn't drag me around on the forehand (even if it wasn't silky smooth) and I remember I taught him all the dressagey things. So I do somewhat know what I'm doing and I probably won't totally screw up Curtis in the process because Twister turned out ok. Like the way he was going Monday I would have been comfortable riding and Intro or Training Level test with a few more schools.

But back to Curtis...... He has yesterday off because I was exhausted from a sick toddler who kept me up all night. And today he literally forgot everything. All of it. After a few minutes I got him to move off my right leg and as he moved he'd stretch into the reins a bit. But my left leg? Forget it. Then I'd kick him or give him a reminder behind my leg with the dressage whip and he'd remember I even had a left leg and move off it and we'd be back to forgetting. He ignored all legs when trotting and ran around like a blind giraffe because he wanted to canter. Which, as much as I wanted to, I didn't let him do today because he didn't earn it.

So apparently Curtis can't have a day off. What worked best today was I dropped my irons and really got him low in his ribs with my boot heel. I hate to use aids like spurs so early in the game but he is exhausting me.

He was very good about me trimming his fronts today though. This horse has only not been tranqed maybe twice his whole life to get his feet done. Granted, they were shoes. But he's great to pick them and paint them but doesn't like trimming/shoeing. I did his fronts a bit and maybe tomorrow I'll work on his hinds.

Because I still haven't gotten a farrier out here. I trimmed all 4 for Twister yesterday and he jumped great today so I think he'll be ok in 10 days for the hunterpace. And Curtis seems less sore as well so maybe the karatex is finally working. So if I can' trim Curtis and Twister myself and my person can help with my dumptruck of an appy, who needs a farrier?!