Thursday, March 31, 2011

Follow the Leader

Riva had some much needed guidance on her 20 meter circles this evening, from her big 'brother' Hennessy.  L and I rode outside in the dressage arena - yes, 49 degrees and sunshine is not so bad!  We worked on one end of the arena with L & Henny a half circle ahead of Riva and I, at the trot.  We worked circles, on both reins, mostly at the trot with some walk breaks.  Riva did really well at this.  We were able to keep the horses at consistant speeds.  This exercise really helped me keep Riva on the circle and working longer than normal.

L decided to head outside of the arena to ride Henny around the pond and the perimeter of the farm.  She had walked this with him many times, but never at the trot.  Since she plans to enter quite a few combined and eventing shows this season - good to start getting him moving outside the arenas. 

Riva was not thrilled about this.  She was whipping her head around trying to keep track of Hennessy.  Never mind that she 'pulls faces' at him (as our trainer calls it) every time they get near each other - she still did not want him leaving her behind!  I kept her working for a while longer to let her know she can work with out him.

Riva did fairly well at re-focusing until I said ok to walk out of the arena.  Once her hooves hit the grass, she thought she could run after Hennessy.  She quickly learned I would NOT let her do that.  I dismounted, led her back to the indoor arean, re-mounted and put her back to work.  She was an angel inside and we ended on a good note.

At our first show at HHP, I have them stalled next to each other.  We will see how this goes - may have to stall them apart at the next show.  With L being a working student this summer, and taking Henny with her, hoping that breaks some stall bound habits for Riva.  Plus, she will have to trailer alone during June & July.  Time for the baby to grow up!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

4 Wheeler - No Problem!

My husband was working on raking the outdoor jumping arena this evening, when I brought Riva out to ride.  We had warmed up nicely in the indoor.  Riva is doing so much better at holding a nice steady canter on the lounge now - I barely have to use the lounge whip.  Another boarder was starting a lesson in the indoor - so after lunging we head outside.

Brought Riva in to the jumping arena - she stood like a lady for mounting and moved right out in to a big swingy walk.  Picked up a trot after walking down the long side - no hesitation and good speed (thanks to our lovely trainer!).  Riva paid no attention to my husband going around the arena - on the 4 wheeler plus pulling the rake.  Talk about a distraction - good mare!

Only time she jumped a bit was once she got a look at the cows in the neighbors pasture.  Now she sees these cows all the time, when we ride outside, but today they must have looked different.  One other tiny spook was going by one side of the arena where my husband had stood up some trot poles and leaned them against the fence.

Riva was so fun to ride tonight - yeah!  She was forward, good consistent speed, listening - these are the rides that make all the work, worthwhile.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Lesson night

Love, love lessons with our trainer!  L and I both had lessons tonight.  L had not planned on a jumping session - the outdoor jumping arena has not been raked recently and is too hard.  L warmed up in dressage tack before our trainer arrived.  Trainer walked in and said 'we aren't jumping tonight?'.  So...quick tack change and they jumped!  She set up trot poles - up to 5 - then threw in a low vertical.  Upped to 2 then 3 low verticals and kept raising them a bit.  Henny did great - as did L.  I always get a bit nervous though watching my baby girl jump.  Especially in the indoor when they have to make a quick turn at the end of the arena. 

I warmed up Riva outside on the lunge in the dressage arena.  She went really well - one of her pasture mates was lunging outside also and I was very happy to see Riva paying more attention to me than her pal.  I put her back in her stall while L had her lesson then got her ready to ride.  Our trainer asked how Riva has been going since our last lesson.  I went over that we are having some sticking issues again and that even though she is picking up the canter everytime and when I ask, I can't get her thru the corners.  I asked our trainer if she would hop on and ride her thru canter.

Out trainer is always game so up she went first.  She got Riva moving  - had to wave the whip at her a bit and growl at her a few times.  She got her up to canter - the 2nd corner she tried to push her thru, resulting in first a cow kick - then a double barrel buck - followed by one more double barrel buck.  When Riva realized not only was our trainer not coming off, she wasn't giving up!  So off Riva went :-)  Trainer got her full arena, at canter on both reins, before I got on.

I hopped up and Riva was forward, listening, lovely!  We worked a bit of trot to halt to trot transitions.  While she was not very fast to halt - she was quick to trot.  We went right in to asking for canter after that.  The first canter on the left rein - she tried to stop and buck at one end of the arena - I growled and kicked and got her going again.  Our trainer - poor thing, surely worked for her pay tonight - spent a good deal of time running from one end of the arena to another with a lunge whip to keep Riva cantering thru the corners.  But it worked!  We cantered both reins more than I have ever cantered Riva.  She does find the right lead harder and flying lead changed twice on that lead.  Note to self - she can flying lead change so when that teaching moment comes - no excuses!

Riva trotted long, low, and stretchy at the end and flowed in to a nice big walk.  She walked out so nice - think she was happy the crazy lady was not cracking the lunge whip and yelling at her to go :-)

Great lessons= sore body for me and L  Off to soak in a lovely epsom salt lavender bath - bliss!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lunge line cantering

Sunday, Monday, and today were all good rides!  I lunged and rode on Sunday & Monday in the indoor arena.  P helped me both days on the ground when we worked canter.  Riva is doing better each time - she is picking up the canter willingly and easily.  She hasn't been rushing or getting anxious about it.  Both days, L and I walked around the property to cool out Riva and Hennessy.  So nice to get outside and have some mild weather!

On Sunday evening, I took her in the wash bay and hosed her off.  Our barn recently had warm water hooked up and I wanted to see how she would do.  Last year, she hated being sprayed - hated the wash bay.  She walked in and stood nicely to be hosed off.  She pawed a few times, and that was it!  So Monday night - full bath time.  Riva did great - got a lot of the winter dirt and hair off.  She smells 100% better!  Maybe she is growing up.

Today, sawdust bedding was being delivered as I tacked up Riva, so we headed outside to lunge.  She warmed up well lunging in the dressage arena.  We decided to try some canter work with me in the saddle and P putting her on the lunge line.  P said Riva looked really confused at first - but she was a superstar.  She didn't get silly, rush, throw her head - so proud of her!  We worked canter on both leads.  On the left, she really smoothed out and got in the rhythm.  To the right, she was tending to fall in on the circle - but did better as we went.

Took her off the lunge and worked trot in the outside dressage arena.  Went thru Intro Test B with her.  She did well, except for the walking parts!  If we could only trot the entire test...Ok, our circles still need work.  But not bad!

Riva has been so lovely and sweet this week.  Normally, when I put her back in her stall for the night, she is only interested in what is left of her hay and ignores me.  Recently, she turns back around when I walk out and visits thru the bars.  Maybe she just wants to make sure I remember to bring back her treats before I leave...but it is nice all the same.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

We have full circle canter!

Wednesday was a gorgeous day - warm , sunny - my fav kind of weather.  I took Riva outside to the dressage arena to lunge.  She was lovely - forward, energetic, eager to canter.  Only problem was the arena was sloppy wet from recent rain.  P checked the jumping arena - way too wet to ride.  The other riders there Wed. evening were riding in the outside dressage arena.  So - great time to work on canter in the indoor, with no other riders!

P came out to encourage with the lunge whip.  He hung out at one end to help keep Riva going.  She was willingly picking up canter and trying.  She was in front of my leg and keeping her head up.  I was able to keep her at canter on the right lead for a full arena circuit - yeah!!  First time we cantered thru all 4 corners before she broke to trot. 

I was only able to get one side and 3 corners of canter to the left - but she was starting to run out of energy.  I had worked her pretty hard on the lunge cantering before riding.  We stitched to trot work and she stayed forward and listening.  We worked lots of change of direction, circles, change of speed .  Was really happy with the canter work - exciting!!

Thursday evening, the outside arenas were drier.  L wanted to work on jumping with Hennessy.  Riva and I rode around the jumping arena - worked on trot and ground poles.  P had set up 5 ground poles - at trot spacing - for L to warm up Henny before jumping.  He had them set up right next to the jump grid that L was working on.  Several times, I took Riva over the ground poles at trot, at the same time Henny and L were going thru the jump grid.  Both Riva and Henny had no problem with this - talk about a good distraction!

Both horses were focused and doing their jobs.  L and Hennessy did faboulus for their first jumping session of 2011.  First show is just over a month hoping the weather cooperates and they can get out and jump many more times before that.

When I get a bit down about Riva and my progress - sometimes thinking we should be farther along - I look at last year and know we both have come a long way.  Last year - if I stayed on Riva and tried to ride her back up to the barn, after riding in the jump or dressage arena - she would try and bolt.  So far this Spring - she walks calmly back up to the barn and halts very easily for me to dismount and lead her in.  On Thurs nite, we evern walked over the 'bridge' before going back in.  Last Spring - she would avoid that bridge like it was a black hole!

Miss Riva got Friday and Sat nights off - so hoping for a great, energetic, focused ride Sunday night.  A girl can hope!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting the Bend

Need to do some catching up on the last 3 rides!

I have not been able to lunge Riva before our rides the past two days - due to many other riders in the indoor arena.  Weather has not been good enough to ride outdoors this week.  But today - I was able to lunge her first.  She was really forward and listening - but, all the horses had their Spring shots today and Coggins test - so I was not supposed to work her hard enough to get warm...figures!  Anyway, P had me try raising my lunge line hand and keeping it up when I ask her to canter.  This really helped get her off the forehand and working from behind.  She also didn't throw her head, buck, do anything silly.  Hoping this will translate to under saddle.

Have been working mainly trot - keeping Riva forward and engaged.  Today, another rider was having a lesson with the BO in one half of the arena - so Riva and I kept to the Mare pasture end of the arena.  First big news - we rode with the big overhead door open, that opens out to the Mare pasture.  Riva went by it and never tried to bolt out with she did a few times last year!  So - she is growing up!

We worked on bending 20 meter circles.  I have a really hard time doing the things I know I should be doing - keeping my heels down, kicking only when I need to, keeping my lower legs still.  So P came out and coached me while I rode.  This works really well, when I am in the mood to be told what to do - fortunately for him, tonight was a good night!  It does help to be reminded of these things while I ride.

We also worked a bit on some shoulder in at the walk and turn on the forehand.  I finished up with some in hand work to reinforce - and Riva was good.  Really lovey and sweet tonight - probably just tired from the vet visit!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reasons Why

This post will most likely ramble...but I started this blog to document our progress and record my thoughts.  So here goes!

I had a rough night last night and I beat myself up about it.  I realize that when I am not in the right frame of mind, how can I expect Riva to be.

Started out with a cold, rainy afternoon/evening.  I should be grateful for the indoor at our barn - but I really want to get outside and enjoy some wide open space.  Riva was bred to be a hunter or dressage horse - I think she will excel at both - not because of me, but because of her pedigree - and she likes to be in the ring alone or with one other horse. 

Anyway - as I was grooming my mud ball but happy horse, there were 3 people riding already in the indoor plus my daughter.  Ok - that will make 5 with Riva and I.  Not good in my mind.  First of all, no room to lounge first and Riva has been so much more forward when I can lounge her first.  Strike one.  The 3 other people riding are experienced riders with seasoned horse - oh, and L is too.  Strike two - Riva and I are green on green.  So I slowly finished getting Riva saddled and bridled, wondering if we would get anything accomplished besides me trying to keep the Diva from sinking her teeth into another horse or landing a kick at another.  Two riders exited by the time I got ready to mount.  Swung up and within 2 minutes of riding, Strike three - Riva was not into this, not forward, doing her 'trog' - half hearted trotting. 

I am learning what behind and in front of the leg feels like now.  Had a few moments of her being in front of my leg, but much more time, she was behind.  L and I had planned to try some follow the leader with her and Henny to try and get Riva to hold the canter under saddle.  Waited until the other rider left the arena - so it was just L and I.  I agreed to give it a try.  I knew Riva was not forward enough for canter work tonight.  I am a green rider - Riva is a green horse.  She doesn't really know what a canter cue is.  But when she is forward, she offers it and says 'can I please?'.  I know what that feels like - when I get the question, and give her the cue and encourage her to canter as long as she will keep the gait.  She wasn't offering last night. 

L got Henny cantering and I asked Riva for canter several times.  She picked it up a few times - the best one of the night, she tripped and I couldn't recover fast enough to ask again.  I was getting frustrated - I know, does not help.  I finally thought, maybe if L gets on and gets her cantering, that will help Riva understand.  So L agreed to ride her.  Well, at least now I know it is not just me!  L had a difficult time getting Riva to go into canter, also.  The best stretch of canter was when L rode her like a Western Pleasure horse - so it was more of a lope.  She put the reins in one hand and swung the dressage whip along her side - not touching her with it (that would cause much bucking!) just letting Riva see it and enouraging her.

L and I talked afterwards, and she thinks Riva is trying.  That she just was sluggish last night and it will take time, work, energy...on my part!

I am hoping to look back on this post in a few months and think 'wow, look how far we have come'.  But in the here and now, it is discouraging to not be getting and holding the canter. 

I love this horse and want to enjoy her.  I spent some time just hanging out in her stall last night, after riding, just remembering why I got this horse and what she means to me.  When I am with her, grooming, riding, just hanging out - it clears my mind and I don't think about all the other stressers in my life.  I focus on the task at hand, breathing in her sweet horsey smell, sometime just thinking I can not believe she is mine. 

pic of the baby Riva and I:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shot Heard Round The World

Well - it was loud!  Let's just say I think we are ready for our first show in April - at least in the distractions department.  Our barn's neighbor decided to shoot off his shot gun last evening while I was riding in the outdoor jumping arena - not just once, but twice!

I do have to give credit to the Diva - she handled it pretty well,  We had been working awhile, lots of trot work and trotting over ground poles.  She was carrying her head pretty high - we were the only ones riding outside last evening - but over all, she was listening.

We were coming toward the fence on the barn side of the arena when the shot gun blasted.  Riva jumped forward, toward the fence, thought about spinning and bolting, but I one reined stopped her and she kinda skidded to a stop.  Then the skid caused some dirt, rocks to fly and hit the fence.  This startled her again and she kinda set back and tried to spin again.  I got her stopped and turned around - facing the property where the shot came from.  I was keeping her halted and talking to her, telling her what a good brave girl she is and the gun went off again.  This time, she didn't even flinch - but I jumped!

Ok then...get off or keep working, not knowing if neighbor was going to keep shooting or not?  Decided to work just a bit more to end on a better note.  Got her trotting again and took her once more over the 5 ground poles P had set up in a straight line.  Got our best pass of the night that time.  Walked her around the entire arena and called it a night.

I was glad we rode outside - supposed to rain all day today and it is such a nice change to get out of the indoor.  Bonus to riding in the outdoor jumping arena - L and I are usually the only ones who use it.  L is the only jumper right now at our barn and all the other rider's like the outdoor dressage arena.  With Riva being so young, and it is Spring time, I like being surrounded by the higher fencing!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ride the horse you have right now

But I liked the horse I had at my lesson Sunday afternoon!  The one I had Monday night was sleepy and pretty lazy.  We were told the mares were all running the fence line yesterday...probably all going in to heat...sigh.  So Riva was tired - she fell asleep while I was grooming her - which is NOT her norm.  Granted, grooming took some time.  My lovely horse, who never rolls, was a mud ball.  Got her cleaned up - kinda - and got her ready to lounge.

Ok - who took the horse I had Sunday?  Sunday - she was lovely on the lounge, and full of energy.  Monday - not so much.  Had to really get after her to get a canter and could not hold it long.  L was already riding and no one else was in the arena.  So she was not distracted - just Western Pleasure Pony.

Took her to the mounting block and got on.  Riva walked off fine - went into trot easily, but it was not the energetic faster trot that I wanted.  Had to keep after her constantly to almost get it.  I asked for canter after some wam up trot work - was able to get the upward transition, but no good at keeping the canter more than on the long side.  On the left rein, she threw in a buck at the canter as we got to the first corner - BAD MARE!  I yelled and growled at her for that one and asked again.  This time, she tripped on some scrap wood in the arena.   Henny tripped over it also, so I couldn't get after her for that one.

Decided to give up on canter for the night - Riva just was not going forward enough.  Was able to get her trot speed up after the canter tries, though.  Worked a lot of 20 meter circles and changing diagonals.  Worked some on walk/trot/halt transitions. 

All in all, not a terrible ride.  So much better than we were a few months ago.  I just get a bit discouraged that we are not progressing more at the canter under saddle.  I try not to worry about it - after all - I am still learning to cue the canter and ride it.  She is still getting her balance with me on her.  Just keep on asking and trying - that was Sarah's advise for the canter work.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Catching up!

Can't believe I have not blogged since last Wed!  So, back up to last Thursday.  L and I went alone to the barn - it was fairly nice out, not raining, and in the 50's.  We decided to ride in the outdoor jumping arena for a change of pace.  Riva was much better than she was out there on Tues.  She was listening and not racing around with her head too high.  She was fairly distracted by a certain gelding that she is in love with.  He was being worked in the outdoor dressage arena, next to us.  Was nice working in the jumping arena with L and Henny - much easier to stay out of each others way and lots of jumps to circle around, change direction, etc.

We just worked on trot mainly - was able to get her speed up on the long sides and collected on the shorter end.  We probably could have worked some canter - but decided to wait till our next time outside.  I also worked on her trot, walk, halt transitions.  Went the entire arena, on both reins, with lots of t/w/h transitions.  Riva did really well at this.

Did not go out Friday night - took the night off and went to see Gretchen Wilson in concert.  Had a nice surprise and was able to go backstage to meet Gretchen, get my pic taken with her, and get her autograph.  Awesome!

Sat Night - had planned to go out and ride, but started snowing in the afternoon and just could not get motivated - blah...

Lesson day Sunday!  Was really excited and looking forward to it.  Riva was a mud ball - could not even see the white on her legs when we got there.  The horses were just being let in when we arrived.  I let Riva eat some of her dinner then pulled her out to lunge before L started her lesson.  Riva was great on the lunge - lots of energy - just one kinda naughty canter transition - head tossing, pulling, nothing too terrible.  She wanted to canter, so worked on more transitions than normal and for longer stretches.  Cleaned her up some and put her back to eat more while L had her lesson.

Our turn!  S watched her walk and trot - she is really pleased with how Riva is going and loves her trot.  S put some ground poles down and we worked on those on a circle - started with one and worked up to three.  Riva really likes to work ground poles and did well.  I really felt it helped with her right bend to work the trot poles on a circle.  S encouraged me to work on this the next two weeks - not every ride - but she said this will start getting Riva up in her trot.

We then went to canter.  S liked her transitions, and that Riva is going into them when asked.  We easily got 1/2 arena without breaking out of canter.  Another boarding was lounging her horse on one end our entire lesson - a horse that Riva does not like.  When S told me to go full arena at canter, I yelled to the boarder that we were coming her way, but she is bad about keeping her horse out of the way.  As we got near the other horse, Riva tried to kick out at the horse and ended up changing leads in mid-stride,  I was not sure what happened and thought she was getting set to buck.  So next time by, we made it thru the first corner by the lounging horse, but at the second corner, Riva tried to bite him in the butt and run into him.  I hollered at her for that.  Tried one last time to make it past the lounging horse - success!  I was very determined, blocked her with my inside leg and rein and pushed her through with much yelling!  It worked though :-)

S told me to keep working on canter - more she does it, the better she'll get.  And to also work on trot poles.  Next lesson she said we will also look at what shows L and I plan to go to and try and coordinate with shows she will be attending.  So looking forward to the first show - S said we will be fine at Intro by mid-April. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Baby Riva

Pic of Riva before I met her :-) she has changed!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Will Spring Ever Arrive?

Sunday was such a nice change.  Thought about lounging outside, but it was sprinkling when we arrived at the barn.  Went thru our new normal routine of lounging first, then riding.  L and one other rider were working also, so Riva was her normal mareish self - ear pinning at the boys - but focused 90% of the time.  We just worked walk and trot - didn't attempt canter with the traffic. 

When L and I finished up riding, we decided to walk and cool out the horses outside.  L stayed on Henny and rode him around the property - I hand walked Riva.  She was most interested in the little bit of grass that is appearing.  She was relaxed - so was Henny.  We decided to take them in to the jumping arena for a stroll also.  Henny got excited and thought he was going to get to jump - poor guy.  The sand in the arena was fresh from the rain - no hoofprints yet.  I walked Riva in a straight line to check her tracking up - and she is doing awesome - her back feet land just a bit ahead of where her front feet hit - good girl!  Trotted her in hand a bit - wow...she is really looking like a hunter - long low frame and head level - lovely :-) 

Monday we arrived at the barn to a partially flooded indoor arena.  With the hard rains the night before, it left a large puddle in one end of the arena.  BO did not close one of the over head doors the night before, not thinking we were to get that much rain.  So, no lounging last night.  Hopped on and got Riva working.  One other rider and L also - so we were a bit cramped.  Too cold and wet to try outside - so we did our best.  Shortened our ride - lots of trot work, transitions, worked on speeding up the trot on the long sides and collecting on the short sides.

I plan to spend some time tonight working in hand on Riva's right bend - she is getting better - doesn't counter bend but still stiff.  Want to also work on her turn on the forehand from the ground to translate under saddle.  So tempting though just to ride - I waited so long to be able to.  But I know the exercises on the ground will only make her better under saddle.