Friday, September 28, 2012

We've Already Won (remind me of that after the show!)

Last night was a brief dressage school in the indoor - test run thru - scrub down the mare - load up the trailer.  Thank you to awesome horse hubby for cleaning my saddle and bridle!  He makes all the ladies at our barn think their spouses/boyfriends are slackers :)

Riva was pretty good - still fighting that right lead canter...  Halts and centerlines were spot on - left lead canter was nice - medium walk and free walk I was very happy with.  Barn owner's daughter was watching when I ran thru my test.  I rode by shaking my head and saying that at least our walk work was good.  Husband told me later last night that BO's daughter told him that I have become a different rider this year.  She said she remembers my previous trainer getting after me to be more aggressive - growl at Riva when she was naughty, kick like a pony clubber, ride like I mean it - all things that I struggled with last year.  Well - not anymore!  I can growl, pony club kick, ride like I mean it now!  But, it is always nice to hear someone notices.

Impatiently waiting for quitting time - jump in the truck and head to the barn.  Quick dressage school at the show grounds this evening.  Then off to eat Mexican food and drink margaritas with my super husband.  I show on Saturday at 12:05pm - excited!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Count Down To Show!

Monday was part conditioning part dressage school day.  We did 3 nice forward laps around the galloping tract with long stretches of canter.  Love Diva's canter on the backside of the tract - so smooth and floaty feeling.  We went into the outdoor dressage ring and worked toward recreating that canter in the arena.  It is getting there - if I let her stretch out long and encourage lots of forward (leg is working better than whip) first than I am starting to be able to bring her back and get brief moments of canter with more contact.  Left lead circles are feeling good - right is still tough, getting and keeping the bend.

Tuesday was a drizzly day and the outdoor arenas and gallop track were too soaked to ride in.  Indoor it was!  One other rider was schooling when Diva and I were ready.  Started with some power walking and long, low forward trot to warm up.  I began to take up some contact and ask for more power from behind - lately, this has caused resistance when schooling in the indoor - yesterday, no attitude!  Lots of good girls for that! 

By the time we moved on to canter, another rider had joined us - Riva's studly Belgium Warmblood love interest - but she stayed focused and with me.  Ok - who took my mare and left me a new one?

First rider finished up and studly WB went outside for a walk in the rain - so we ran thru the Intro C test.  Only obvious error was Riva broke to canter on our left 20 meter trot circle - my fault as I used a strong leg aid to ask for more forward.  Canter departs where prompt - ride lead 20 meter circle needs more accurate shape.  Halts were relaxed and front legs square.  We ended on that!

Riva has two areas of rain rot on her hind legs - low, near her hoof.  Yuck - never had that ailment before.  One of the boarders had some cream she has had success with and let me try it.  Will see how it looks tonight.

This afternoon will be lunge only - Thursday another dressage school before we leave for Edinburgh on Friday.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Last Show of the Season?

We show at HHP in Edinburgh this Saturday - no ride time yet - this will most likely be our last show of 2012.  Octoberfest and CAF shows in October conflict with Regionals in KY (daughter will be showing in KY).  CAF has a November show - but I hate cold and battle Raynaud's syndrome.  So, one more time at Intro C for this year.

How will we do?  No clue as of today!  Riva has been quite the 5 yr old, mare, green bean, diva the past few rides.  She is one happy camper when we work on the galloping tract - but not so much in the dressage arena.  When asked to work with contact in trot, she likes to avoid by cantering.  When brought back to trot and asked again, she will kick out, buck, etc until she finally gives up? and gets with the program.  Exhausting and back wretching, to say the least. 

Alexis came out to give me a lesson yesterday and saw what I was dealing with.  Time for a trainer ride!  After some impressive bucks and attitude (of which Alexis can handle much better than her old mom), Diva became the nice sweet willing mare that she can be.  It is like a switch has to flip and then the attitude is gone.  Maybe when she turns 6 that switch will stay flipped - one can only hope.

We worked on a new exercise - Lex would have us trot in shoulder in on the quarter line half way down the long side, then ride across the diagonal to the opposite quarter line - changing the bend as we went (thinking leg yield) and repeat down the other side.  After a few passes of this exercise, she had me trot a 20 meter circle then go back to the shoulder in / change bend on the diagonal.  We ended by working on cantering big then asking for some contact at canter - once she gave to the contact, we did a trot transition. 

Took a nice walk out around the pond - galloping track was still muddy from storms that came thru on Friday night.  No pictures :(  Hubby was re-grading the outdoor dressage arena - in hopes of getting a ride in out there this evening.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I finally decided on the Dressage Boots 2 for Miss Riva to protect her accident prone legs and so far, am very happy with them.  After Riva's bump on her front leg that resulted in a week of stall rest and wraps, I started researching boots.  Thank you all for your helpful suggestions on what to buy and what not to buy.  Until I was able to order the boots, I used Alexis's old front jump boots that Hennessy wore. 

I ordered these from Smart Pak last Wednesday and they were on my front porch on Friday.  Love
Smark Pak!

Riva has never had back boots on, so it took her a few walk steps to adjust.  She seems to warm up so quickly since I started using boots.  I had thought that her knee caused stiffness issues but maybe she was catching her front leg with a back hoof frequently and causing soreness.  Now, she trots right out with no stiffness issues.  Would have put boots on her long ago if I had known this!
For the past two glorious fall like weather days (only 60 degrees when I rode yesterday afternoon) we have warmed up on the galloping track - 3 times around, alternating trot and canter work - with very little walking and then in to school in the outdoor dressage arena.
We are concentrating on canter circles with prompt departs and smooth downward transitions.  Also working on our trot diagonal - aiming for some extension.   Have been working on the stretchy trot circle (we will need this in Training Level next year) and Riva really likes this - I am working on keeping a connection and encouraging her to lift her back and stretch.  With the weather change, forward has not been a problem - the horses definitely respond to the chill in the air!
I have to say, it is so fun to work on canter now.  I am starting to really like this gait!  I do have to remind myself to keep equal weight in both stirrups - esp. my right side.  I chant to myself  "right leg, right foot, right leg, right foot"...helps me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Daughter/Trainer Brag Time!

Alexis competed at Harmony in the Park Dressage Show last Sat & Sun in Edinburgh.  She showed the horse that she will be competing on at Regionals in KY next month.  They had a stellar test on Sat. - 74.5%...her highest score ever...of which I missed.  Husband and I just went on Sunday to be unpaid help watch and cheer everyone from the barn on.  She competed Training Level and ended the weekend with the Training Level High Point Award for Juniors :) 

Loot she took home!
Pretty mare she was showing - Emerald
As always, very proud of my girl and happy for her success!  She will be coming to Edinburgh with me at the end of September as my trainer. 
Congrats to Sarah of mybrainonhorses.for a great weekend showing also at HHP!  She was very busy showing multiple horses, but shouted out a hello to me as she rode by.
Also, good to see Austin of guineaforaguinness. at the show!  She was busy volunteering as a ring steward.  Looking forward to seeing her competing in a few weeks at HHP.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Back to Work

Riva and I spent our ride time Sunday and Monday just hacking around the galloping track - short, easy work for Riva which makes for a happy mare. When I think about it, this is good conditioning work for both of us.  There is a hill at the back that we now trot or canter up - good back end muscle building - we trot and canter 3 times around with no walking.  I worked on keeping Riva straight and coming from behind, worked on me keeping balanced and equal weight in the strirrups.

Tuesday, Alexis was able to come out to give us a lesson.  Lex got on Riva first to see where we are at.  She worked on canter transitions with contact and keeping the contact.  Riva had her normal opinion about this at first - kicks out, little bucks - but quickly got over herself.  Lex had me get on and we focused on the same - canter transitions with contact and keeping the contact.  We worked on our canter circles at A - left is good but on the right lead, I have trouble getting her into the corners.  We set cones so that we had to go between the cone and the rail - which worked well.  Now if I can remember to put out the cones when I have the outdoor to myself!

Wednesday Riva got a much deserved day off.  I think we had worked 10 days straight.  I did go out to the barn and groom her.  I got out Cheers, our OTTB, and groomed him up and hopped on for a short walk around the indoor.  He was ok - except our BO was lunging a boarder's horse and every time she said 'Trot', Cheers trotted :)  After she saw this, she told me she would wait to canter until I was thru riding.

Thursday was a rough day at work and I looked forward to getting out to the barn and riding.  Thankfully, Riva was well rested, forward, and eager to work!  We did our normal 3 lap galloping track warm-up then trotted into the outdoor dressage to school.  Left canter was very nice - right is still a work in progress.  One of my cones was still in the front corner, so that gave us better circles at A.  I was proud of Riva - another boarder was riding her giant belgium warmblood in the outdoor - Riva always gets distracted by this horse (I think she has a love/hate relationship with him).  Anyway, she was perfect.  We cantered and trotted numerous times by the giant with no issues from Riva.

Tonight will be another dressage school then Saturday and Sunday off.  Alexis competes at Harmony in the Park at Edinburgh so we will be traveling to watch her.  She is riding the horse she will be taking to Regionals in KY next month.  Looking forward to the trip to Lexington!

Monday, September 10, 2012

CAF September Show

I survived, met the goal I had set, and feel good about it!

Friday afternoon, we made it out to our barn only to have it start raining as we loaded up Riva.  Thankfully, I had loaded the trailer with everything needed, except a bale of hay, so we didn't get too drenched...that would happen later in the evening.

Daughter met us at CAF and after getting all necessary equipment into the barn, we tacked up Riva and took her to one of the indoor rings to school.  Riva was very UP, despite being at this barn several times.  There were many more people there than normal, and several more children and ponies than usual.  Riva is very leary of little ones - ponies and kids!  And goes on high alert around them - grows to 18 hands, prances, snorts, etc.  Charming.

So daughter got on first to get Riva paying attention and navigating politely around the ring.  Just before I got on to school, the storm rolled in...lightening, thunder, driving cold rain and wind.  I tried to ignore the storm and focus on schooling - and it went well.  We got in several nice canter departs and were able to get in some decent 20 meter cirles.  We worked on trot to canter to trot transitions, a few trot diagonals, and a couple of center line halts.

We left Riva with her yummy alfalfa mix hay (stored up in our barn for winter and everyone to take to shows) and headed to our fav Mexican restaurant in Sheridan.  My sweet husband got soaking wet loading my tack back up in the trailer for the night.  Found out in the morning we got over 2 inches of rain over nite.

My dressage test time was not until 3:14, but we arrived about 7:30 am to feed Riva.  I got her out and lunged her briefly, took her out a few more times to hand graze and stretch her legs.  The air was brisk Saturday morning and she was excited, but managable.  I got her braided and looking reasonably clean.

Since we had lots of time on our hands, we were able to watch many dressage tests and stadium jumping rounds.  Love watching little ones on ponies!  We got to watch the little black mare that Alexis took to event camp, Lillith, being ridden by a young girl who is trying her out to buy.  They took 4th in Green and Grass Combined Training in the Junior division and looked super together!

About an hour before my test, we got Riva ready.  Alexis got on to school her briefly - Riva was trying really hard and was not quite as reactive as Friday night.  We headed over to test about 10 minutes before my test time and found they were running ahead, so I went in the ring.  We did not get a chance to school in the outdoor arena on Friday night, of course, due to the storm.  But Riva tested there in June.  She seemed to remember and handled the arena well. 

Warm Up!
Right 20 meter trot circle

Left canter circle

My goals for this show where to get canter at the correct time and keep it - get the correct leads - and to ride more or less 20 meter circles.  And we accomplished that!  The right lead circle was small and earned a 5, but the left was better and earned us a 6.  Our entry halt was crooked and she only briefly halted - ending centerline was much improved.  Actually, the entire second half of the test was better than the first. 

I earned an 58.25 for my first Intro C test and took Second Place.  I was ok with this - much better than where I started with Intro B.  I have 3 weeks until we show again in Edinburgh and have several things to work on.  I feel confident we can improve on the canter by then.

Many thanks to my trainer daughter, wonderful husband, and my sweet mare who seems to finally be growing up! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

We Survived Intro C!

Full show report pending!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Indoor Lesson

We got dumped on the past few days...not as much as originally predicted, but more rain than I care for.  Lesson was inside yesterday of which neither the Diva or I was excited about - but always good to get a lesson with Alexis.  We started out but right away I could not get Riva in front of my leg.  She was not being hard in the mouth, just sluggish and on the forehand. 

Alexis had me hop off and she worked her in hand for a bit then jumped on.  She got Riva moving and quick off the leg.  I hopped back on and of course, immediate difference. 

Here is pre-trainer ride:

Of course, I was not helping with my position.  My body seems to think if I lean forward and throw my hands at her, she will speed up and lighten up.  My mind knows that does not work and Lex worked on my position after I got back on. 

Here is post-trainer ride:

Hmmm, amazing what happens when I sit back!  Dang those elbows though - I do know how to bend them.

Lex rode Cheers around while she gave me my lesson.  She is trying to work with him each time she is out to the barn.  He is so fat - but cute :)  Can you all believe he is an OTTB? 

We ended by running thru my Intro C test.  We got canter at the correct time and trot transition at the right time.  And when I watched the video, it looked better than I thought it felt.  Have not uploaded the video, as it takes a thousand years!
It was good for me to run thru the test inside, since if it rains next weekend, my dressage test will be in an indoor at CAF.  As we have shown there several times, I am not worried about being moved to the indoor.  I am looking forward to next weekend.  Our last show was at the end of June.
Portions of the Intro C test to work on this week - after reviewing the video:
 - free walk (fine line between a good paced walk and Riva breaking to trot)
 - trot down centerline after opening halt (I need to concentrate on keeping Riva straight when asking for trot transition - she tends to fall to the right)
I did finish pulling her mane yesterday, trimmed up her fetlocks, bridle path, and muzzle.  Now for a whitening bath everyday and maybe she will be fairly clean next Saturday!