Saturday, February 26, 2011

Feeling Lucky! own this horse :-)  I feel blessed every day that I wake up knowing I have this incredible horse (ok, some days I call her bad names) to ride and work with.  Even when I get to the barn and all 4 white legs are covered in black mud - she is all mine.  At least I know she was out enjoying her pasture and social time!

Just one other rider last night.  Riva does so much better when she is the only one in the arena or just one other rider is working.  More than one, and she feels like she has to defend her territory.  Worked her on the lounge first.  It has really helped this week to get her moving out right away - faster trot - faster canter.  Working her longer at the canter and doing several trot / canter transititons.

Hopped on and she was forward and asking to canter after one circle around the arena on the left rein.  Let her go into canter and we made it half arena.  Worked more on trot and switched her to right rein.  Got the canter transition to the right but couldn't get her to sustain in.  So I concentrated on trot and walk - worked on some circles and direction change.

Once the other rider left the arena, P came out to help encourage the canter.  Got her going on both leads - much better with him on the ground with the lounge whip.  Finished up by working on some leg yields.  Took her down the center line and asked for a few steps of leg yield, both directions, about 3 times down the center line.  Tried in trot and walk.  She did well - much better on the left leg yield to the right, but did some decent right leg yields to the left. 

Riva was eager to work and finished up strong.  Was surprised that she coorperated on the leg yields at the end.  Normally, when I try to work anything in walk at the end, she thinks she is done.  But she kept working - good girl!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Girl is Growing Up!

Past 2 evenings have been great rides with Riva.  Since our lesson Sunday, she has been forward and listening.  Trot speed is so much better and canter is coming easier.  I know my confidence is growing also, which only helps Riva.

Last night, just myself and one other rider were in the arena.  The other horse is one of Riva/s 'boyfriends', meaning she loves and hates him at the same time.  She pinned her ears twice at him, when she thought he was in her personal space - but other than that, she was focused and working.  We got in canter on both leads - about 3/4 of the arena each direction.  Lots of really nice trot work and circles.

Tonight, two other riders in the arena.  Riva was much more 'mareiss' - lifting her head and pinning ears, trying to veer into them, etc.  Kept working - got one canter each directions and quite a bit of good trot work again.  20 meter circles were a little tougher tonight on the left rein again, but once she got it, they were good.

I do love this horse!  She is a blast - always makes me think and work - I am blessed to have this girl :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Re-Cap of Monday's Ride

No riding tonight - P working late and L's at work.  Hate to go alone, esp when it is cold. 

Yesterday evening's ride was great!  Back up first.  Riva was in quite a mood when we arrived.  It was cold - she was wet (thank you very much mom for not putting a blanket back on Sunday night!).  Normally, Riva is ready to get out of her stall when I arrive.  I walked in as usual, clipped on her lead rope and expected her to happily follow me out in the aisle.  Diva ignored my tug on the lead line first - then pinned her ears at me - then backed up into the corner and grew about 2 hands...bad mare.  Had P hand me a crop - gave her a smack - and she changed her mind and followed me out.  She was not on her best behaviour to be groomed - but not horrible. 

Tacked up and put her on the lounge.  She proceeded to be lazy and mopey - listening, but in Western Pleasure horse mode.  I couldn't get her trot speed up to the right and definitely could not get canter.  Asked P to come out to help me.  He shortened the lounge line and when Riva did not step up her trot speed, he gave her a whack from the long whip on the butt - that got her attention!  She picked up a nice extended trot and canter.  I took her back and had no trouble from then on.  Switched to the left lead - no problem.  Riva went nicely in trot and canter.  Seemed to be reminded why that whip is in my hand!

Hopped up to work under saddle and the Diva was forward and ready to go.  It was just L on Henny and us.  Riva was wonderful and she did not even 'pull faces' as Sarah calls it at Hennessy - yeah!  I put her right into a nice speed of trot and pretty quickly asked for canter on the left lead.  I worked several transitions from trot to canter on the left lead - she responed well - never kept it going a full arena, but I felt good because she picked up canter every time I asked and was controlled and eager to go. 

I switched her to right lead and had the same horse - forward and offering canter pretty quickly.  Worked on lots of upward transitions, while I had energy and forward going.  Still never got a full circle - but I felt all the transitions were good.

We then worked on 20 meter circles, with lots of change of rein.  Threw in some changes on the diagonal.  Gave Riva some strechey trots to relax and stretch.  Not much walk - she tends to lose momentum and think we are done working.  Also was able to get her to extend and pick up her trot speed on the long sides of the arena a few times - esp on the left rein.  Good on the right rein also with collection on the short sides.  Still better on the left rein.

Finished up with some right rein circles - trying for bend and to get her pushed out on larger circles.  I felt some good moments where I could get her to tip her nose in and bend.  Also worked a few turns on the haunches.  Without help on the ground, these were not as good as during our lesson.  I plan to work on these in hand next time - I know she understands this - and then try and translate to under saddle.  Same with right bend - want to work on reinforcing in hand next time.

All in all - I was thrilled with how she did after working so hard in her lesson the night before.  Probably not a bad idea for her to have today off.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lesson afternoon!

After a month without ... L and I got our lessons!  We both had productive, fun lessons and things to work on for the next two weekds.  Sarah had me show her Riva's trot both ways as we warmed up - said she is very happy with the way she is going, holding her head, tracking up - she said she sees much improvement in the past few months.

Sarah had us first work on some 20 m circles, both directions.  Then, had us circle one way, as we come around the circle to switch to a few strides straight and then change the direction and bend.  I had trouble with this one, and Riva struggled with it - something to work on the next 2 weeks.  Riva had about zero bend on her right rein trot.  I think I will work in some short reining over the next 2 weeks to help work on her end.  Then we did some work on turn on the haunches.  Sarah had us work in a square - walk forward, halt, turn on the haunches in and repeat all 4 sides of the square.  I don't know that Riva quite understood this and was a bit annoyed.  I think I will work her in hand on this some in the next two weeks and reinforce under saddle.  Riva knows how to do it from the ground work we have done.  I just need her to figure it out under saddle.  Then we went to canter.  First of all, by this time, a boarder was at one end lunging her horse.  Not just any horse - one that Riva dislikes.  So Sarah said to get Riva trotting and ask for canter at C - this was on the left lead.  First time around, I lost my right stirrup and just could not cue her correctly.  Try again - success!  We had an entire lap of the areana - all 4 corners.  First time ever and Sarah didn't have to chase Riva with the lounge whip - yeah!  We switched to right lead - got an entire lap on the rein also, after a few attempts.  I was thrilled!

I feel more confident each time I canter Riva.  I am feeling more secure and Riva is not rushing in to it or head tossing, bucking, kicking, etc.  We cantered past the hated boarder horse, on both leads, and Riva made no attempt to run into or over him - Yeah girlie!  Course now P says - see you can canter in traffic...that is with my super trainer there cheering me on...we will see.  I told Sarah she needs to make me a recording that I can play on my MP3 while I ride.  Or maybe listen to while I sleep and the subliminal messages will become ingraved in my mind.

L had a fab lesson also.  They worked on getting Henny to lower his head at the canter.  Sarah had her get him really moving on a 20 m circle, with L in 2-point.  I don't know how L does it - I would have been off Henny after half a lap, fast as he was moving.  Anyway - sure helped.  Henny and L had a few lovely moments of canter with his head done.  Certainly something for them to work on the next few weeks.

P took video of my lesson.  Will get that up the next few days.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quick video update

Video from our ride on Thurs. Feb. 17th

Friday, February 18, 2011

First lunge outside for 2011

Can't believe it - but we lounged outside, in Feb., in wind  - and all went well!  Got Diva ready to lounge and the sawdust bedding truck arrived.  So P suggested I lounge her outside while the sawduct truck was in the arena.  Umm - ok...BO had just come in from lounging her horse, who is a mare also, and older and said she was crazy.  But I'll try!  Riva was a rock star - was a little looky at everything but did great.  Had to start with words and whip to get a few transitions, then switched to just whip and body language and she listened!  Success!

Took her back inside to ride, since the sawdust truck was leaving.  And it was getting chilly and dark outside.  Got on and put her to work at the trot - circles, lots of change of rein across the diagonal.  No one else was in the arena so we could change it up a lot.  Riva was not as forward as last night - but was listening.  We worked on lengthening and speeding up the trot on the long sides and collecting on the ends - she did really well on both reins.  Threw in some stretchy trot - just using legs, seat, and shoulders to turn - still good.  Tried to put her thru the old Intro A dressage test - was doing really well until half-way thru the free walk - I think Riva just does not get the point of all that walking,, she gets bored.

P came out and we tried a few canter transitions - she was great!  Did two on each lead - kept it on the long sides of the arena, but lost it in the corners.  Hoping to work more on her canter this Sunday during our lesson.

All in all - great rides the past two nights.  Still smiling!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can't quit smiling!

I wish I had a video of the big smile I had on my face when Riva picked up her first trot under saddle tonight...I have my girl back and I could not be happier!  Much as I appreciate the fact of having Cheers or Hennessy to ride the past week, nothing takes the place of my own horse.  It was like floating on a cloud!

Started Riva on the lounge first tonight - even though L and two other riders were out in the arena.  I didn't want to chance immediately getting on, after a week off of lounging or riding.  She was kinda lazy on the lounge surprisingly.  Had to keep after her to move out.  Started her to the right first tonight, which I always start to the left.  That kinda confused her, but she did fine at w/t/c.  When I switched her to the left rein, I had the best canter that I have ever gotten out of her on the lounge.

Got on, and the girl was ready to go - very forward.  I keep reading that you have to ride the horse you have tonight.  Well that horse wanted to trot and trot fast!  So we worked first on trot/walk transititions - walk a few strides, trot a few strides, walk a few strides.  That settled her and got her listening.  Then moved up to faster trot on the long sides of the arena, more collected on the short sides.  Had fabulous fast trot on the left rein - no breaking to canter or throwing her head.  Right rein was good - but not as good as left. 

Had one bad moment tonight.  I was giving her a walk break on a loose rein and she decided to charge at Hennessy - teeth barred - like I was not even up there!  Bad, bad mare...I do not know what gets in to her sometimes.  So of course the rest of our ride, I had to keep tight contact when going near Hennessy and the other horse that was still working. 

Good news was she seemed to forget she ever gave me any trouble on a 20 meter circle on the left rein - did all that asked her to do tonight with ease and no 'back talk',  She gave me some trouble with the first right 20 meter circle though, always something!  But we worked thru it and ended on a good note.

Decided not to try canter tonight - esp after the mare moment with Hennessy.  Will hope I have the arena to myself tomorrow night and can work on.

Here are a few still shots from tonight - kinda blurred - taken with P's cell cameraL

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Get to ride my girl tomorrow night!

Yay!!!  Farrier is able to work her in tomorrow afternoon.  Has been 6 days since I got to ride Riva.  Cheers will  be happy that he gets to go back to retirement for awhile.  Rode Hennessy last night - gives me a whole new respect for L's riding.  My back always hurts after riding Henny - his trot is much more up and bouncy than Riva's.  Rode Cheers tonight - he does really good for about 15 minutes, then starts getting tense and fussy.  I chalk most of that up to Riva's saddle being too wide on him and it starts hurting him.

Since Riva gets her shoe back on tomorrow, L and I get lessons with our trainer this Sunday.  Has been one month since we had our last lessons.  Really looking forward to it.  Weather is supposed to stay warm the next couple of days and then drop over the weekend.

I should not complain so much about not being able to ride Riva, since we have two other horses I can ride.  But I have this bond with Riva that keeps getting stronger and I so enjoy getting to ride her.  When she loses a shoe, I can't ride or lounge her - so we get zero training in.  We have never went 6 whole weeks between shoeings that she has not lost a shoe.  Just feel the set back - and I want to show her, somewhat successfully, in mid-April.

Anyway - there was sunshine today and warmth!  And an appt with the farrier tomorrow.  My mood is much improved!

Monday, February 14, 2011


On the farrier to call back and get a day / time to put Riva's shoe back on.  Just got to groom her up again - straighten out her mane that was not as evenly cut as I thought last night - carrot stretches & hugs.  Left her winter blanket off - supposed to be a lot warmer tomorrow and hopefully the horses will finally get to go outside.

Rode Cheers again tonight - poor guy was thinking he was permantly retired.  Better than last night.  He settled in and listened pretty well.  Rode with some traffice - L riding Hennessy, and two other riders in the arena.  Cheers has come along way from when we first got him and he thought he was in a race with every other horse.   He has a great halt and back up - wish that would rub off on Riva! 

Just lucky to have a back up horse to ride when Riva loses a shoe.  Course once P gets a saddle to fit him and Cheers, he might not share him anymore!

                                          Cheers at Hoosier Horse Park Oct. 2009

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Princess Diva lost a shoe today - so no ride for us this afternoon.  Very have to wait for our farrier to come out.  With her right front being a club foot, she is very off balance when she loses a shoe.  Puts her shoulders way out of alignment.  Been told by our trainer and farrier not to ride her when she has just one shoe on.

So I groomed her up - trimmed her mane quite a bit (every time she loses a shoe, her mane gets shorter).  I keep telling Riva that she is going to end up maneless one day!  Took a few pics of her in the cross ties - looking very bored.  Carrot stretches and back to her stall.

I really want to keep by riding muscles in shape, esp since I am not running this winter.  The older I get, the less I can take the cold.  So Cheers got put to work tonight.  I asked P to lunge him first - he was a little crazy, esp at the canter.  Lots of racing around and bucking - Cheers can be very dramatic.  Hopped on and he was pretty good.  I have a lot less trouble when him now that I have been riding and training Riva.  My confidence and assertiveness have increased so much.  And Cheers feels it.  He didn't pull any of his usual stop and refuse to move, or cow kicks, bucks, etc.  He walked and trotted very nicely.  I forget he is much more sensitive than Diva though...I spurred him when asking for a faster trot and he went from 0 - 60 a lot quicker than I anticipated!  We worked some circles and change of direction.  The best part was, he let me hug on him a bit after the ride - ok, who switched Cheers with another horse?  Gotta love him.

Here is the pic of Riva looking sleepy and bored with me -


46 degrees right now!!!  I am grateful for sun and some warmth...finally.  I am grateful that I have a horse to go fuss over later today and ride.  I love that we have been able to indulge our youngest daughter's passion over the years - first with lessons, then leasing horses for her, and then buying her a horse of her own.  Sometimes I hear other teenagers tell her how lucky she is or people say things like, you must have lots of money...ha!  L is quick to tell others that she doesn't have a fancy cell phone, video systems, expensive lap top , etc.  She does have a basic cell phone - which she bought and a hand me down lap top from Dad.  L realizes what is important in her life and I hope that is a life lesson that stays with her.

I dreamed of having a horse as far back as I can remember.  Sometimes I still can't believe we now own 3.  I so appreciate my understanding husband.  So many women on the blogs I read have husbands / boyfriends that don't get it or basically don't like horses.  I not only have a husband that willingly hooks up the trailer and hauls L and I to shows - he genuinly enjoys those 1200 lb money machines.

Pic of L way back in the beginning -

Thursday, February 10, 2011

So ready for Spring

Didn't get to the barn Tues or Wed - Tues...just too dang cold, Wed....P got home late and didn't want to make the drive alone.  Just me and L went to the barn tonight.  Lots of people there so we worked in arena traffic.  So not Diva's fav thing - I think the new show name I thought of for her is a perfect fit - 'Miss Independent'.  She lays her ears back at almost every horse we pass and tried to bite poor Hennessy when L and I were walking them out after riding.

Riva was very good on the lounge.  P got me trying not using voice commands - just body language and the lounge whip.  I really like this because I don't feel like I am shouting all the time and Riva watches me more when I don't talk.  Got really nice canter on the right lead - no bucks and nice rhythm. 

Got on and she was very forward - wanting to go at a faster speed than we had room for.  With one person lounging and 3 of us riding - couldn't let Riva go much  We did get to work 20 meter circles.  Just had to remind her that she can and will do circles on the left rein.  Did not take nearly as long tonight for her to remember what we worked on Sunday and Monday.

Once the arena cleared of the person lounging and one rider left, was able to get Riva's trot speed up on the long sides of the arena and more collected on the ends.  Did not attempt any canter tonight.  By the time we had worked on increasing her trot speed, 2 more riders had entered the arena.

Really ready for Spring and to be able to go out to the dressage arena or jump areaa.  Riva and I are so much alike - we both need our personal space!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Starting to get it

Me - that is.  We worked on 20 meter circles again tonight.  Right rein - no problems there.  I just have to keep encouraging Riva to keep her speed consistent thru the entire circle.  Went to left rein - first small circle was good .  I told her 'what a good girl'...that was a mistake because the next thing I knew I was trying to turn her left and she kept plowing straight ahead.  Back to work we went. 

I finally starting getting what L was telling me to do when Riva avoids the turn.  Drop the outside rein and pull the inside rein to my knee until Riva gives and her haunches follow thru.  Once I did this - okay after half a dozen times of doing this - I got a successful circle on the left rein!  Yeah!!!  We kept at it on one end of the arena, then trotted down to the end where she really avoids to try it.  Riva did exactly what I asked and we had some very good 20 meter circles on the left rein.

We finished up with Riva's fav - stretchey trot around the arena and then we tried some big figure eights on a loose rein.  She was very forward - good speed - lovely!  P wanted me to try a little canter before we stopped for the evening.  Tried the left lead first - got a few steps, but I couldn't get her in the rhythm.  Switched to right lead.  Riva wanted to go into canter, but I couldn't keep her going.  P came out with the lounge whip and with some encouragement. I was able to keep her in right lead canter for 1/2 the arena - and it was controlled, smooth, fun!

P took a little video of us warming up tonight.  He said to excuse the videographer :-)  Took this on his cell phone.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Stall Fever

I am sure all the horses are feeling cooped up.  They have been kept inside since the ice storm hit last Tuesday.  The pastures and all around the barn is still an ice rink.  Lovely Indiana weather.

This afternoon, L and I were to have a lesson with our trainer.  We decided to postpone to next Sunday, due to the weather.  I really look forward to our every other week lesson and missed not having it today. 

I warmed up Riva and worked on things from our last lesson.  Lots of trot work.  She was pretty forward and listening.  Little trouble with halt at first - she was interested in keeping up with Hennessy.  We worked trot on both reins and then went to 20 meter circles.  Riva was fine on the right rein.  Everything on the right rein is easier for her at this point.  Left rein is our problem area.  When I asked for a 20 meter circle on the left, she avoided big time. 

L was trying to give me suggestions, and asked if I wanted her to hop on Riva and see what she could do.  Riva gave her the same problem - fell out on her right shoulder and threw a fit about turning.  L had a bit of a 'discussion' with her and tried again.  What ended up working was starting with a very tight circle on the left rein - holding the outside rein tight and opening the inside rein.  Also kicking only with the outside leg and holding the inside leg still.  Then L kept increasing the size of the circle until they were on the 20 meter circle.  Worked!

I hopped back on to try it and all went smoothly.  I gave Riva a stretching walk break after that and then did some more trot work on a long loose rein.  She loves this and will keep lowering her head when she is praised. 

I truely believe a lot of her resistence and I want to do it my way attitude can be chalked up to no pasture time, boredom with being in the stall, and pent up energy that she doesn't know what to do with.  Hard to be 4 yrs old and in time out!

What Was I Thinking?!

This was the name my husband thought of for my blog!  While I love the would suggest I am witty and funny (not so much).  I have been reading other horse related blogs for about a year and decided it would be a good way to track my ups and downs of training my sweet mare, Riva. 

Now, for some background info.  I am a 40 something wife and mother to 2 daughters - B is in college and L is in high school.  My youngest is the one who got me into horses.  She had tried every sport known to young girls before finding her passion - riding and all things horse related.  We started out with lessons for her - which led to leasing first a sweet Quarter Horse gelding and then a very ornery POA.  After several years of this, we thought it was time to buy a horse for her.  Being just knowledgable to be dangerous first time horse owners. we adopted a 7 yr old OTTB from a resue group.  Cheers taught all of us so much - he was not the best choice for a first horse, but he will always have a home with our family.  Last summer, we purchased our daughter a better partner - a 14 yr old TB, Hennessy, with training and experience.  She is having a blast learning Dressage on him and improving her Jumping skills.  She is finding her passion to be Eventing and Hennessy is a willing boy.

So, in between getting Cheers & Hennessy, I fell for a yearling black & white filly.  A former trainer of our daughter breeds German Warmbloods.  While L was training with her, I would visit with this sweet gangly filly.  I told my husband she would be the perfect birthday gift for me.  He made my dream come true and arranged to buy her.  Now keep in mind, we knew nothing about training a yearling...but thought with support from a trainer, we could handle this.  Three years later, I would do a lot ot things differently, but I am thankful everyday for the opportunity of owning my Riva Diva.

The past two years found us moving Riva & Cheers to the current stable to board and Hennessy joined them there.  We found a great trainer to work with L & Hennessy and Riva & I.  I spent 2 years ground training Riva - from leading, to lunging, to ground driving, to short reining and finally to backing - I was never so excited as when I was sitting up on Riva's back!  We taught her to trailer load and stand thru baths.  We took her last year to two combined training shows, just as a companion for Hennessy and for the experience. 

My husband has been a huge part of training Riva - from handling her on the ground when I couldn't to holding her for vets and farriers and getting her on the trailer many times.  He has talked me thru many tough times and continues to be a wonderful support for me.
So - to the present.  Riva and I are working toward our first Dressage show in mid-April of this year.  Just Intro A & B - it will be our green horse & green rider debue!