Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What We Have Been Up To!

I really have been riding - 6 days a week - I've just been very lax at documenting this summer.  I have been very good about reading everyone else's post!

What have we been up to?  Working on that canter.  Don't get me wrong - Riva knows how to canter.  Me...still learning.  Riva and I together...making progress!  Have I stated lately how much I love my greenie mare?  She still has her mare moments - I told my husband that is part of her charm :)  But she tries hard.

My lovely talented daughter has been trying to get out once a week to ride the Diva and give me a lesson.  This has helped tremendously in several ways.  One - I am a visual learner and watching Lex while I listen to her instructions gives me a clearer idea of how to achieve the same results.  Two - Riva will try to avoid work with Lex the same as she does with me (at least I know Riva is not just pulling stunts on Mom!).  And three - Lex is getting quite good at instructing and her riding ability has improved more than I could have imagined in the past year.

So the canter...I am doing better at asking correctly and getting the depart fairly promptly.  Keeping the canter going - some days are great, some not so great.  Something new that we have been doing the past week and a half is warming up and cooling down around the 'galloping tract' at the barn.

Now you see how dry it is in Indiana!
Alexis took Riva around it about 2 weeks ago and then walked beside me while I rode Riva around it.  I used to hand walk and long line Riva around this tract a lot before she was started under saddle...of course, that was awhile ago.  Lex assured me Riva was perfectly capable of calmly going around the tract and it would be good for her brain.  It is fairly flat - except for the back side which has a slope.

Now we are up to 2 laps as a warm up.  We walk the first half, trot the second half on lap 1 - then trot the first half and canter the second half on lap two.  YES - we CANTER outside of the arena!  I love it and Riva seems to enjoy this.  My ideal would be to have more places like this to work on canter.  Riva goes forward easily and maintains the canter until I ask for trot or walk - which means I am relaxed and going with the motion.

Then we get in an arena.  Be it the dressage or the jump arena, I just can not seem to get that same canter (except when Lex is giving us a lesson and I think that is because Riva is afraid Lex will wallop her if she breaks gait!).  But, I am not worried about it.  Just like trot, we will get there.  Speaking of, trot work is going very well and I could not be more pleased with the way Riva is going.

I only have to look back one year to know how far we have come.  This time last year - we were working toward getting her feet correct and her knee healthy.  Heck - I only have to look back at our show pics from April to see the progress we had made by June.

Looking forward to two schooling shows in September and our continued progress - we are going for that Intro C test!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Verdict is In

Here you go Emme! ipickcrazy

The vet has spoken...

First and last jumping picture I will have of Riva :(
My awesome horse husband took Riva for her yearly check up on July 13th to our vet for x-rays of her left knee and both front feet.  She forwarded the x-rays to our farrier and left him a long message as to changes she wanted him to make for Riva's next shoeing, as her angles were off a bit - vet wants her heel reduced on the right club foot and the toe taken back on the left foot.  After going over the knee x-ray with my husband...she said absolutely no jumping...ever.  Can't lie that I was not really sad to hear this.  Riva seemed to like the little jumping day we had.  Our vet said trot poles are fine - even raised on one end - as long as she just trots or canters over them.
Our vet explained that the impact from landing on just that left knee (like the pic above) could further damage the cartlidge and she would be done - as in a pasture ornament for the rest of her life.  No surgery to repair it would make her ridable again.  Our vet said dressage is great, no restrictions, basically Riva can progress as high as any other horse is capable of (with a skilled rider!).

So, we will be doing lots of this:

Sorry for the repeat pics...my husband has been working with our OTTB, Cheers, instead of taking pictures of me...the nerve :)  Maybe I will take a day off soon and take photos of my hubby and the extremely chubby Cheers!  You all will think I am lying that he used to be a racehorse!

I have to give a blog plug to Sarah at mybrainonhorses.  We got to meet last month at a show and she recently started this new blog - check it out!  Sarah is a good writer, posts lots of photos, and keeps her blog updated much better than I do!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Camp / Show Wrap-Up

Alexis competed her project horse, Lillith, at the CAF Combined Show on Saturday.  Poor little mare had to be tired...Alexis, too.  But they perservered and rose to the occasion by placing First in the Starter Event Derby with a 32 in Dressage and no jumping faults!  Not bad for the first show for Lillith and three weeks of training Alexis put on her.

Pic from camp:

A potential buyer came and watched her compete on Saturday -  little girl just getting started in eventing.  What young girl would not want a sweet cute black mare?  Hope they end of taking her home instead of Lillith heading back to Chicago.  Would be fun to see her around at local shows.

Pics from the show:

Alexis also rode her first Second Level dressage test in a schooling show...she was a bit nervous but did a great job.  I was even more nervous than her - I was her reader!  I had to ask how to pronounce Renvers :)  Proud of my daughter!  Hope I can become as lovely of a rider as she is someday.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Best Part of My Vacation

I work at a school and normally have 4 weeks off every summer.  Our district, along with many in the surrounding area, is switching to a 'balanced' calendar.  I had 2 1/2 weeks off...of which almost every day was over 100 degrees.  I like warm summer days, but really?

Having those 2 1/2 weeks off did allow me to ride mornings, which I had never done before.  I liked it!  Only other person ever riding was the BO / trainer - quiet - Riva was always ready to go.  Our barn switches to night turn out in the summer.  I would arrive soon after they came in, before Riva had a chance to begin her day long napping under her fan.

But, the best part of my time off was the past 1/2 week.  My daughter, Alexis, was fortunate to get to attend Event Camp at Come Again Farms in Sheridan.  The horse she qualified for Regionals on and was supposed to take to event camp, was moved to another facility in June, so her trainer was searching for a replacement for Lex to take to camp.  Trainer was able to borrow a sale horse from a facility in Chicago where she regulary visits to give lessons. 

Lillith arrived two weeks prior to camp at the barn where Alexis is a working student.  Super cute black warmblood cross mare, just 5 years old, with no previous jump experience, never been off the property, only ridden indoors, basic w/t/c  training only. 

Lex and Lillith on the last day of camp:

Lex really enjoyed this mare - super sweet and up for everything, from stadium to cross country to dressage - just took it all in stride.  Many times during camp, she was the 'leader'.  Walked right in to the water jump like an old pro, jumped up and down banks, ditches, nothing fazed her.

They ended up getting a private lesson with Dorothy Crowell on the last day, due to the other camper that was scheduled for the same stadium lesson had her horse come up lame.

If anyone is interested, she is for sale :)  Trainer likes she will easily go Training Level as she progresses.

I was able to audit on the first three days of camp, but sadly had to go back to work on the fourth day.  I learned a boat load from all the trainers and watching the various campers.  Clinicians at the camp were:  Dorothy Crowell, Leslie Law, Sharon White, Jennifer Kaiser, and Jennifer Conour.  Lex got to take at least one lesson with each of them.  What a great bunch of trainers - all so down to earth and approachable.

It was great to watch the progress - esp on x-country - of many of the adult women participating in the Green as Grass and Starter divisions.  I witnessed several woman jump solid obstacles for the very first time, canter and gallop in open fields, and jump a stadium course.  Fun bunch of women and a few men. 

Maybe next year...

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Like many parts of the U.S., we are in the middle of a heat wave and drought.  I am thankful for my air conditioned house and truck and that we did not get hit by the storm last Friday that knocked out power to many of you.

I have canceled my lesson the past two weeks due to the heat - I haven't seen any lessons going on at our barn during that time, so pretty sure everyone else is doing the same.  What does surprise me is how well Riva works in this awful heat.  We are keeping the rides short, varying the routine by doing jump arena one day - dressage arena the next - just longe work - and a day completely off every few days. 

Since Riva did so well last Saturday when Lex and I went out to ride in the morning, instead of the normal late afternoon / evening rides, I decided to try it again yesterday on the 4th of July.  I assumed several people at our barn would be taking advantage of the day off of work and slightly cooler morning temps to ride, but I was the only boarder there. 

As Tuesday evening was a dressage arena ride, I headed to the jump arena.  I removed the random trot poles we had scattered around on Monday evening and left just the 4 in a row that we had previously been using.  The random pole trial on Monday seemed to jazz Riva up just a little too much and she wanted to pull to every trot pole she saw!

Pictures are still from last Saturday:

 I like the lift the pole work is giving her.

Yesterday, Riva warmed up quickly, seemed so focused just like she was on Saturday.  I loosened her up with a nice stretchy trot, throwing in circles, leg yield on and on the fence line, and diagonal direction changes.

I decided to ask her for left lead canter before we went over the poles.  I gave myself a pep talk using all the directions Alexis had given me last Saturday - get myself balanced, equal weight in the stirrups, outside leg back while I sit a beat and kiss...and off we went cantering!  I have been having issues with steering on the left lead so I concentrated on squeeze and release on the inside rein while keeping my outside rein steady and at her withers.  By our second attempt, I was able to keep her cantering the full arena on the left rein.

I switched to the right rein and once again, she was responsive and cantered on cue and did not veer to the inside (which was the previous issue on the right rein).   We got up to two full laps of the arena on the right rein.  I then was able to get a turn across the middle of the arena and about 3/4 of a 20 meterish circle.

I did take her thru the trot poles a few times on each rein and finished up with some work on stretchy trot circles.  She does these fairly well at home - will see how she does at shows when we move up to training level.

My goal is to show Intro C at CAF in August.  The canter circles are at A and we have to be able to pick up the gait in the first quarter of the circle and be back to trot at A.  Something to work for!

I just like this trot pic :)  Riva looks nice...I have more to work on - elbows back! - heels down!

In other news, my husband will be taking Riva to our vet a week from Friday for a re-check on her left knee and both front feet.  She will take x-rays and determine if our farrier should continue with the corrective shoeing as he has been doing for the past year or if any changes need made.  Alexis, of course, wants to know if we can begin jumping her.  Our vet said last year that Riva would probably not be able to ever do more than green as grass type jumps, due to her knee.  Will see what she says after the x-rays. 

Happy belated 4th of July everyone!