Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dressage Show or Rodeo?

First show of the season...small show...only about 35 horses in attendance...might as well get the bucks out!

Riva gave Alexis a bit of a rodeo ride on Saturday while in Training Level Test 1.  Canter was not on her agenda in the spooky indoor arena. 

Due to a minor eye emergency with Alexis, we did not get any riding in at the show grounds on Friday evening.  Lex is fine now - she got sawdust lodged in her eye while driving the tractor at her working student position on Friday afternoon.  We dealt with that after getting the Diva settled at Come Again Farms.

One of the things I love about Riva is how calm she is becoming about going new places.  She walked off the trailer and into the stall with zero drama.  She had one neighbor and when we came back by later to check on her Friday night, she was calmly standing by her new BFF, dozing. 

Saturday morning came too early, but we were at the show grounds by 7 am.  Riva must have enjoyed her 'hotel' for the night - shavings all over her!  We got her groomed and tacked up - then off to the indoor warm up.  We learned that the dressage tests would be inside, due to the buckets of rain that fell throughout the night.  Off course, Riva having been to this farm only once before, last Spring - never had stepped foot in the indoor where the tests were taking place.

Lex warmed up Riva and I walked her out by walking around the show grounds.  We put her up to relax and went over to watch some dressage tests.  Pulled Riva back out about 30 minutes before her first test for Lex to ride again.

Lex got Riva into the designated arena with no problem - but of course, the judges table set up at 'C' was pretty scary - as was the open door directly behind judges table.  Lex got her settled with a little extra time (the ride before hers had scratched).  Test was going well until the canter at 'A' end - which was the big overhead door to the barn - dark and creepy inside the barn, then bright light at 'A' end.  Diva decided canter was not on her agenda - Lex said 'oh yes it is'  - and the dressage whip had to be used to back up the canter request demand.  Riva (always the Diva) had to protest by bucking and generally throwing a tantrum.  Then test was back to normal, until the canter request demand on the other rein. 

Needless to say, 2's were the marks for the canter portions (Alexis's first 2's).  Rest of the marks were 6's and 7's.  Not horrible and Alexis took it all in stride - note the kissy pic :)

Lex decided to have me get on Riva immediately after her test - they were scheduled for 1 hr apart.  I rode her in the indoor warm- up, then rode her around the outdoor grass warm up until time for my test.  Riva got very relaxed - she walked on a loose rein with 2 other horses, around the grass pasture for about 15 minutes (which is really good for the Diva).

Lex assured me I would not get 'Rodeo Riva' as long as I didn't have to touch her with the whip.  No problem there - she trotted very forward into that same scary indoor - looked twice at the judges table and decided it would not eat her - and proceeded thru our Intro B test.  I was happy with it - Riva stayed very forward, good rythmn throughout the test.

Riva got her first blue ribbon with Lex on board (don't tell the Diva they were the ones in Training Level Test 1, Novice Horse).  I got a pretty white 4th place ribbon for Intro Test B. 

Next show is April 21th in Edinburgh.  This is always a busy kinda crazy show - Dressage and Combined Training.  Throw in the fact that the show grounds is next door to Camp Atterbury - guns being fired, planes flying over...exciting!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

And the Pictures Continue!

My one and only New Year's Resolution was to post more pics of Riva on my blog.  Thanks to my great husband...I am not having any problem keeping that resolution.  I do believe the Diva is on her way to becoming the most photographed horse in history!

The mild Indiana weather certainly is not hurting - the trees and grass are blooming and making for lovely rides outside...LOVE.

I had a lesson last evening with my trainer on Riva.  We mutually decided to just lesson on Riva for the time being - until I need a refresher on the schoolmaster, V.  My trainer was happy with my position - I still need reminders to keep my hands even (right one likes to creep forward) and keep my elbows back and relaxed.

She first had me run thru my Intro B test - 1st show this weekend!  She was happy with our tempo and rthymn - our trot down the centerline and halts were good at the beginning and end, the medium walk was good, downward transitions were good.  Things to work on - circles, free walk, upward transitions.  All in all - she saw more good than bad.

Halt at the end of test:

 After running thru the test, we focused on free walk, 20 meter circles at walk, then trot, then finished with upward transitions.  We had our first lesson on working with contact - Lex has been helping me with this so the concept is not brand new to Riva.  My trainer was very happy with Riva's willingness to try and not get angry. 

Working on circles with contact:


On the upward transitions, she helped me with Riva's tendency to push her nose out when going into trot.  We got a few decent transitions with Riva remaining on the bit and ended with that.  I took Riva for a nice walk out around the property after the lesson.  Such gorgeous March weather!

Cooling out walk:

I spent about an hour after our lesson mane pulling.  And I am less than 1/2 way done...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Some Fun & Games

Sunday we had a Spring kick-off barn party - food, beverages, and some fun with our ponies.  Weird March weather continues, so we had sun, not much wind, and near 80 temps.  Gotta love it!

Nine horse and rider teams joined in the games, which included keyhole (pretty funny with mostly dressage horses), crepe paper race, egg and spoon, boxer shorts relay race and a 'soccer ball' race.  Can you believe we forgot the nothing to prove how awesome team Riva did!  (Alexis and I took turns on Riva - and Alexis even did keyhole with our OTTB Cheers - bareback with a halter and lead rope for reins!)

After eating, we all went out to catch our horses, quick groom and tack up.  Love that Riva came up from the back '40' of her field when I banged on her gate with the lead rope hook.  Not only that, she chased off the other 2 mares in her field, when they came up with her - and then returned to stand patiently while my husband put her halter on.  This time last year, we had to chase her around the field to catch her.

Once tacked up, we headed out to join everyone in the outdoor jump arena.  Riva was very UP with all the activity going on in 'her' arena.  We normally are the only ones in the jump arena, since most of the riders at our barn are dressage only.  I had Lex jump on her and literally gets the bucks out - yes, she threw some good ones.  Lex got her focused and then let her canter, full out, several times around the arena.  Once she got it out of her system, she settled and was ready to play nice.

We had a blast - Riva and I rocked the egg and spoon game - course I never had to go up against Lex and Riva - who won that game hands down!  Lots of fun - sweaty tired Riva by the end of the games.  I think it was good for her mind to do something totally different, but in her environment. 

While I don't have pics from the party, here are some from Lex in a training session with Riva and I:

Canter Proof!!

Working on contact

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Can See It!

My husband was out of town all last week for business and made the comment that when he came back, I wouldn't need his help anymore with Riva.  He is my eyes on the ground all thru the week, to remind me to quit nagging with my leg, get my elbows bent and back, heels down, etc.  While I still needs his eyes - he was able to see much progress when he came out to the barn with me Sunday afternoon. 

Here is a pic from our ride on Feb. 28th: 

Sunday March 11th: 

Differences I see:
     *  my elbows are bent and back
       *  my posture is better
         *  Riva is accepting contact!

I am amazed at the changes in Riva in one week's time.  Over this past weekend, Lex was able to ride Riva on Friday and Sunday.  She was able to go from working on Riva accepting contact at the walk last Friday to accepting contact at trot this past Friday and started Sunday with accepting contact at canter.  And Sunday's ride was outside - when the horses were being let in at feeding time - and did I mention...our resident donkey was wondering around free grazing?!  I do love my mare :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Belated Birthday Presents

Lex turned 18 while in Florida for her working student position so others got to share in her special day...nice people that they are, she had a pizza party, complete with a birthday cake, presents, and cards. 

Since she was about 15, we had talked about getting matching tattoos when she turned 18.  Our original plan was interwined horse shoes.  I decided to add a cross to mine - but she kept changing her mind about what she wanted to add.  Friday night she decided - our appt was Saturday.

My husband said I would back out...


The other gift for Lex, my husand gave her yesterday.  He had made the frame out of mahogany and the shoes were pulled from Hennessy the day before he was put down.  The photo was from her Senior Pictures session - the last time she sat on Henny.  We all got a little emotional when she unwrapped it.

Fun weekend and the weather was fantastic!  Lex rode Riva for me Friday evening and Sunday afternoon - pics to come from Sunday's ride.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Dirty!

Lex was able to come out last Saturday to ride the mare for me.  They worked on bending, contact, and some collection.  Riva is a quick learner and now only throws bucks when she gets overwhelmed and confused.  I love that in the many, many pics that dad/husband took - Lex is smiling all the time!

A few pics from Saturday's training ride:

Yikes - she is so dirty!  I most definitely want to body clip her next winter.  She is smelly and super hairy.  Our Mid-West winter has been very mild but the weather changes day to day.  I don't feel comfortable giving her a full bath yet, but boy does she need it!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dressage Clinic with Toine Hoefs

No...I am certainly not ready for a clinic with a big name international trainer (not yet!) 

Alexis was fortunate to take two lessons on Thursday and Friday with Toine thru her working student position.  The owners of this lovely Fresian paid for Lex to ride their horse in the clinic.

This is the second time Lex has taken lessons with Toine and he was very pleased with her improvement since she last rode with him in the fall.  Clearly, the 5 days a week riding 5-6 horses a day is paying off!

A few pics from the clinic - Lex on Katerina:

Lex will be showing this horse over the summer - at First Level, I believe.  I think they make a lovely pair!

Friday, March 2, 2012

An AaaHaa Moment!

Let's start with aaahaa moment was at THE CANTER!  Yes, I achieved left lead canter on Riva yesterday in the outdoor dressage arena.  2 full laps - thank you very much :)  And it felt AMAZING.  I keep reading about how most riders like this gait the most and I had not figured out why...

Yes, I have been working on canter, on the schoolmaster "V", at every lesson.  I can cue her canter, from the walk or trot, and my riding of this gait keeps improving.  But I can't say I have loved it yet.  I have to remind myself to breathe - keep my legs soft - go with the motion with my seat - keep my hands low and allow.  But I have not enjoyed it yet.  I feel out of control.

That did change yesterday on Riva - now I so want to master the canter and ride it all the time!  Riva's canter feels so different than "V's".  It was smooth and up - and I was able to just ride it and enjoy the feeling.  Bonus - I had steering and speed control.  I was not getting good bend on the right lead yesterday, so I did not attempt right lead canter.  I am hoping Lex is able to come ride her this evening and help me with this. 

In other news, I had my weekly lesson on Wednesday on "V".  We worked on 20 meter trot circles, leg yield at the walk and trot, and canter.  Next week's lesson will be on Riva. 

On Tuesday, the weather was just too mild not to get outside.  (As if I need a reason to ride outside!)  Husband got a new camera over the weekend with our tax return and took some pics.  Now I can look at pictures and pick apart my position!  What I see -

    *  elbows need bend
    *  once elbows are fixed - contact should be better?
    *  heels down - at least they are level now!

At the trot - preparing to turn right

At the walk

On the lunge

'Please don't criticize my hair!  Mom sooo needs to pull my mane!  

On Monday, all the horses had their Spring shots on Monday and Coggins test.  Our vet advises light work on the day they have vaccines - so Riva had a short light lunge session and an easy ride.

Many more critique-able riding photos to come!