Sunday, November 27, 2011

Belated Thanksgiving Post

Fall, which it my absolute favorite time of the year, was a hard season for our family this year.  Dealing with the lose of Hennessy has been tougher than I could have imagined.  Thru it all, though, we learned how caring the horse community is.  Total strangers offered comfort thru kind words to Alexis and myself and it was amazing. 

When Hennessy was laid to rest, my husband cut his tail and gave it to our barn owner's daughter, at her request.  Everyone at our barn pitched in and had this made to give Alexis. 

Hennessy's name is engraved on the silver portion of the necklace.  Alexis was home on Friday and had came to the barn to watch my lesson.  Our barn owner gave it to Lex  - she was pretty emotional.  Lovely gift and she will always have a part of Henny.

I am thankful for compassionate friends, family, and 'strangers' that I may never get the chance to meet.  I am blessed!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And now I wait patiently...

for this to arrive!!! 

Connection | County Saddlery

I sold my SUV over the weekend and placed my order yesterday for a County Connection, girth, and leathers.  Will take about 12 weeks, according to my rep. 

 In the meantime, our barn owner's daughter is lending me the use of her County jump and or dressage saddle.  Her gelding is re-habbing from an injury and she is graciously letting me use them.  While they are not a perfect fit for Riva, they fit much better than my Kieffer.

Soon the Princess will have her very own custom fitted saddle...I am sure she will be pleased!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Third Lesson on the School Master

Friday was my lesson night on the School Master - I will call her 'V'.  I arrived a few minutes early and hurried down to Riva's stall to check her leg.  On Thursday evening - I had all my tack out and ready to go, hurrying a bit to try and get outside for a quick ride in the fading daylight - only to discover Riva had a small wound on her right front fetlock.  Quite a lot of dried blood was around it - dang...but thankfully no swelling or heat.  I cleaned it up and coated it with antibiodic ointment and put her back up for the night.  She was not lame on it, but I didn't want to take any chances.

So I popped in to her stall to check on the wound - looked fine.  No swelling, heat, she wasn't sensitive about having it touched.  I threw her some extra hay - she made quite a lot of noise last time I had my lesson...I assume voicing her displeasure at me giving attention to another mare!

My trainer asked me to put a bareback pad on V and bridle and bring her out when I was ready.  Should have been my first clue that I was in for a workout.  After scrambling up on V - who is tall and broad - I found her very comfortable to sit on bareback.  We started with some holding one leg at a time out to the side at the walk - with my bent knee raised on the opposite leg.  This helped me feel my seat bones move with V's motion.  We worked on getting my position correct and then moved up to trot.  My trainer said my balance was really good and a did not have trouble staying with V.

Next my trainer had me remove the bareback pad and saddle V.  She had me contentrate on keeping the position in the saddle that I had bareback.  We again started with walk and raising my legs and getting the feel thru the saddle.  We moved up to trot and she had me work on posting smaller but more forward motion in my pelvis.  She then had me work in 2-point - this I have never done nor attempted to do.  This took some work before I could hold my balance (meaning keeping my butt out of the saddle).  My trainer wanted me to concentrate on relaxing my ankles and sinking my heels - kind of bouncing down in my heels. 

After working on 2-point for some time, we moved up to canter work on a 15-20 meter circle.  My canter cues are getting more effective - I worked first in walk to canter then trot to canter.  Working on canter in a circle was a first for me also - keep in mind I am a beginner!  My trainer said my position in canter is much improved from my first lesson and I am getting more relaxed all over.  On the last canter circle, everything started to click and V went into a nice working canter - it felt so amazing.

By the end of the over an hour lesson - I was tired and a bit sore already.  But the progression of bareback pad, to 2-point, to canter circles made sense to me in review.  I felt my position improve and my connection to V was stronger.  I love that my trainer walks around at the end of the lesson, while I cool out V, and goes over everything we worked on and answers any questions that come up.

My trainer is to ride Riva for the second time this evening.  I am looking forward to hearing how it went!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holding My Breath

I feel as it I am waiting for a Diva Riva meltdown - or someone to bring back my naughty mare. 

Each day this week has been a good ride, in my opinion.  I feel we are moving forward, however slowly, once again. 

End of daylight savings time means it is pitch black dark by 6 pm.  Pretty much ends our outside rides, except for Sundays.  I snuck in a quick hack on Tuesday evening - hurried thru groom and tack - and went for a nice forward trot around the pond several times.  Riva was happy, alert, forward - and seemed very surprised when I hopped off and untacked her - almost like 'you mean that is all I have to do today?'  I am trying very hard to end before she even thinks about slowing down.

Last night, had to arena ride...I feel awful saying that since many riders would kill for a decent indoor arena.  But indoor is clearly NOT Riva's fav place to be.  Lucky for me, 3 geldings were working also - 2 being lunged and 1 being worked under saddle.  Now bear in mind that last year given this circumstance - I would have elected not to ride Riva.  (since last year at this time - we had no brakes, steering, listening capabilities, etc)  I decided to hop right on - no lunge prior - and put the girl to work.  And she was great!  Very forward - moved off the seat to a nice walk - little leg pressure to trot - accelerated the trot with a light whip (which is new to us - not so long ago, this alone would have caused a buck or swift kick out), halted when asked - did not try once to bite the boys. 

Much, much praise was happening through out the ride.  Sweet girl received hugs and treats before getting put to bed.  I am still afraid to exhale.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Riva gets schooled, 2nd lesson on the schoolmaster, clinic & show!

Lots of catch up to do!

My new trainer / BO schooled Riva last Monday evening and had lots of good info for me.  She started with a bit of ground work, moved to lounging without tack, then a bit of body work on her shoulders, neck, and poll, then a short lounge with tack, then a ride.  First off, she complimented me on how well I have done with Riva to this point.  She did a lot of turns on the haunches and forehand to loosen her up - worked on getting her very forward at the trot and let her canter if she offered.  She worked on the beginning of getting Riva to move off of seat only from halt to walk and walk to trot.  She felt good about how Riva responded and that Riva was sweet, willing, and tried for her.  She will ride Riva again for me this Sunday.

I had my second lesson on the schoolmaster last Friday evening.  We briefly worked on a nice swinging walk, just off my seat.  I did much better at this than the first lesson and we quickly moved up to trot.  We started with a bit more contact and then went to a very forward trot on the buckle.  It is so fun to ride her - she can fly :)  My trainer then showed me some stetching, flexing exercies to do that I can do with Riva - getting her to turn on the haunches and forehand.  We moved up to canter and I still was having trouble timing the cue.  She ended up having me cue her from walk and I did fine with this.  My main issue is sitting the trot - which I need lots of practice! - and then giving the canter cue with my seat and legs. 

My trainer said I showed much improvement from my first lesson - my foot/leg position was better and my posture was better, ie not leaning so far back.  I will have another lesson this Friday on the school master - I love her!

Friday I took the day off work and went to a clinic put on my Toine Hoefs - his clinic was being hosted by the barn where Alexis is a working student.  It was very interesting - I was able to see lessons at a variety of different levels - from training level thru Grand Prix.  Alexis was fortunate to be included and took a lesson on a horse that is in training at the facility.  She was able to be instructed on counter canter - which she has not done much.  She was to have another lesson last night - I have not talked with her yet to see how it went.

Saturday, we headed to Come Again Farms in Sheridan for the last combined show of the season.  Alexis rode for the owners of a young Arabian that is being trained at her working student position.  Lex has been riding this horse and took it to two jump lessons prior to the show.  They competed Green as Grass and ended up 4th - she was able to get her horse over every jump with no faults - so the owners were thrilled :)  The owners bought this mare for their daughter two years ago - who is a tiny 10 year old now - and the daughter has not been able to show her yet.  The mare is very nervous, spooky, and needs a calm confident rider.  Lex did so well with her - it was fun to see Lex in this little girl is growing up.

I rode Riva yesterday afternoon/ the wind storm...and she was a pro!  She definitely prefers being ridden outside as opposed to the indoor and I don't blame her.  If we were able to ride year round outside, I would be thrilled.  But since we live in Indiana, it just is not pratical.  My husband thought I was crazy for taking her outside due to the wind.  Riva was very up for the lounge - wanted to canter and canter and canter.  But once I got on, she settled and listened and was great.  We did a lot of trotting - bit of canter both directions - and worked on moving off the seat.  I even finished up with a walk around the pond, just as it was getting dark.

Hard to believe it is the middle of November - with temps in the 60's today.  Driving home from the barn last night, we saw a few houses lit up for Christmas...way to soon for that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Baby is a Senior

My youngest daughter is a Senior in high school this year!  She had her Senior pics taken the first weekend of October and finally, the proofs were on line today.  Those of you who have followed her blog know she is away as a working student.  She started the position in mid-October because she completed all her school credits and was done with high school early.  She plans to come back end of May to walk in commencement.  Just had to share a few of the pictures - really there are some without horses in the shot - but what fun is that!

Lex and Hennessy

Lex and Hennessy

Lex and Hennessy

Last ride ever on Hennessy

Final Salute

Glam shot with Hennessy and Cheers

Lex and Cheers

My baby 'girls'

Lex and Riva

Lex and Riva

Lex and some of her ribbons

Monday, November 7, 2011

All Things Fitting of Post #100!

Where to begin my catching up...

With a picture of the awesome ribbon rack my husband made for me!

The shoes are old ones that were once on Riva's feet.  Hoping to add more pretty colors to it next year.

I had my first dressage lesson last Thursday evening with the BO - my new trainer.  I rode a boarder's semi-retired school master for my lesson.  Lovely sweet mare :)

I learned more in that lesson then all others I have ever had combined.  It made a huge difference to spend the lesson focusing on me.  Exactly what I needed.

I learned that I sit back too much, as in lean back.  Most dressage riders have to battle the hunter position and learn to sit back.  But not me - I have the opposite problem.  When she finally got me sitting correctly, I felt like I was leaning forward!  But a look in the mirror does not lie.

Also, I have been riding with my toes pointed out to the side.  Putting my feet in the correct position, opened up my hips and helped me relax my legs.  I spent a good part of my lesson closing my eyes in order to relax my body and let it go with the horse.  Riding a school master put me at ease to let go...never would have worked on Riva.

The BO had me get comfortable at a nice paced swinging walk and them move up to trot.  We worked on cuing with just my seat and kept the mare on the buckle.  It was amazing to change her pace with just my post.  I also had to work on giving with my arms/hands. 

We then moved up to canter, which it what I need the most help with in regards to Riva.  I have trouble keeping Riva in canter because I end up blocking her forward, because I don't have the miles to be comfortable riding the canter.  I need lessons on a horse that will be a bit more forgiving and let me get my rhythm.  It was exactly what I needed.

After the lesson, I felt exhilarated :) 

The BO is riding my Riva tonight to start working on getting her back to being light off the aids.  I can't wait to hear how it went!

I have another lesson this Friday on the school master.  This is one of the advantages of taking lessons from my BO, plus she can ride and help train Riva.  I know I made the right decision to make a change - I am excited and know we are heading in the right direction.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My horse the Therapist

I have said it before, but it bears repeating...I am so thankful for my fuzzy, opinionated, 1200 lb girl.  Just getting her out of the stall and grooming her is therapeutic.  Tacking up and going for a trot around the pond can temporarily erase the stress.  Giving her a big squeeze around the neck before I leave the barn can tide me over until the next time. I don't know what horseless people do to unwind!

Since my post after this will be #100, I didn't want a whiny complaining post - so I will do that now on
# 99!  I had a tough day yesterday - work and personal life all rolled in to one.  My job, which I have loved for the past five years, is getting stressful.  I haven't gotten to the eye twitching symptom stage yet (that was a past job), but I have always figured that I spend a good deal of my life at work and by gosh, I want to like it!  Right now, and for the past 3 months...not 'in like' with my job.

My mistake yesterday was to check on personal email at lunch time.  My former trainer (who also trained Lex) emailed me and asked how Riva was doing and if I was ready to resume lessons.  Daughter and husband had suggested to me that I should consider switching trainers to the BO where we board.  All the other boarders there (which are a whopping 4 women) take dressage lessons from her.  We originally started using former trainer for Lex - since she needed jump lessons and dressage.  It seemed logical, at that time, for me to take lessons from the same person - since we were already paying a trip fee and was cheaper to take back to back lessons. 

Now that Lex is at her working student position, it is just me needing lessons.  I had just spoken with the BO on Monday about starting lessons with her.  Not only do I need lessons on Riva, but I need lessons on a school master to work on myself, and Riva needs ridden by a trainer to further her education.  BO was happy to add us to her schedule and came up with a plan to start.  I like her thinking - she wants to work on getting Riva lighter off the aids - be able to lose my spurs.  She plans for my first lessons to be on a semi-retired schoolmaster who last competed at Intermediate level.  I am excited!

The problem - I emailed former trainer back and explained that I am starting lessons with the BO and a few reasons why I made this decision.  I was kind and diplomatic - I loved taking lessons with my former trainer, that was not an issue.  One reason I did not contact former trainer to resume lessons was whenever we just had one horse to take a lesson between Lex and I (a horse lame or other issues), she would always reschedule because she felt it was not worth her time and money to make the trip for just one of us.  She also had to drive about an hour to get to our barn and last winter, was not able to come a few times because of weather.  It made logical sense to me to start lessons with the BO who lives on the property, is a dressage judge, very capable of training my green horse and my green self.

The email I received back from former trainer surprised me.  She was not happy at all with me that I did not ask her to resume lessons with Riva and I.  I was upset with the tone of the email and will feel uncomfortable the next time I see her, which we will run into each other at shows and she takes lessons with the trainer where Lex is a working student.  I had my husband read the email and he does not take it the same way as me.

I did not reply back to the email because I don't know what I would say.  Anyone else had something like this happen?  How did you handle it?