Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Dressed for the Festivities!
Today we had a group ride at the barn with about seven horses. There was lots of jumping and then a trail ride in the back 7 acres. I had a great time, though I had sea legs when I dismounted. Guess I'm not used to two hours in the saddle :D

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Back to Bliss

Yesterday was the second riding day in a row and Antsy-Pants was back. So, I worked on schooling him with lots of leg yielding. But I could still feel the energy bundled somewhere beneath the sound of his grinding teeth. But at least I wasn't scared to take charge which is exactly what I did. After all, I wanted Antsy-Pants to move out. So I worked him to a pretty good sweat. Both of us really. He had a nice roll afterwards and even some carrots.

Today was day three-in-a-row. Today, I immediately knew Saint-Sam was back. In fact, he was summer-loving, Sleepy-Sam. PERFECT. Instead of getting a mini rocket ship when I asked for big steps, I could feel how he was safe and solid. Even his ears were doing a lot more listening my direction then they have of late.

After our ride today... so happy.
We did work a little yielding at the very beginning. But after some trot work, I was brave and jumped without supervision over several jumps. Sam was his angel self today. I was so happy. I gave him the reins and leaned down and hugged my pony. YAY, he's back. Just gotta keep him here. :D

I bet it had nothing to do with riding three-in-a-row and also not during dinner time, but instead it was all because we had a chat before I got on. I told Sam that I wasn't ready to move up yet and I wanted Saint-Sam today. Yep, that was it. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Antsy-Pants, a winter pet

It's becoming a regular occurrence that Sam has what I like to call, 'ants in his pants'. I ask for a trot, we go blitz forward like there's a carrot at the end of the arena. I ask for canter, we careen forward like there's a bee on his butt. I can feel the energy. He's pretty decent about listening, to collect, and get calmer. But I have to ask several times and while he's not doing anything dangerous, it takes longer then I like and I'll admit I'm a little nervous. Leftovers from the last horse I owned who would get very naughty when she felt her oats.

I've been riding less often, not feeling very motivated to leave my warm house. Feeling too tired to drive the four miles to the barn. Waaah, poor me. But also, Sam is in great condition and it's winter, so he's feeling great! In the summer, I have slug-pony. I am starting to correlate the multiple of days off in a row with antsy-pants as opposed to Saint-Sam when there's only 1 day between rides. In the summer, I rode about 5-6x/wk. Lately I've riding about 3x/wk, four if I get my butt in gear.

Since I hadn't ridden since Saturday's lesson, I wasn't surprised when I had antsy-pants today. We trotted some ground poles and I half-halted through them all. Yeah... no jumping today. (too scary for me) So, my trainer had me work some boring 'dress-sidge' as we call it while in jump tack. Shoulder-fore work this way, that way. All the while my pony was multi-tasking between moving his legs and grinding his bit. He does that. On dressage days. Little leg yielding here and there and look, soft, compliant pony.

We trot the poles again and I get a good listening, gentle pony. Saint-Sam is back! We press our luck, work 2 sets of ground poles and through in a small jump. Weeee!! Normal hunter pony!

Lessons learned:

  1. Ride Sam at least every other day, especially in the winter.
  2. Keep horse's feet moving sideways/crisscrossed when he wants to barrel around the arena.
  3. Keep getting more comfortable barreling around the arena otherwise I'll never get to try cross-country.
  4. Stop scaring my trainer with my poker face. She has no idea if I'm scared or not. So now I'm required to yell 'woah' when it's scary so she knows I'm actually trying to stop my horse and not just breezing Sam around the arena. Besides, then my horse will know what I'm trying to do too ;)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet week

I had a great jump lesson on Saturday. We worked on distances between crossrails at the trot and canter, both in collection and regular. Sam was kind enough to offer leads when I yielded him, even if he didn't always get it right. :)

We then jumped in between sets of crossrails, effectively making figure 8s. We had several really nice distances. I still forget to count if I'm doing a course, but I imagine that will come in time.

I've only ridden dressage once over the last 8 weeks. Sam had that hoof bruise for three weeks, then I was busy getting my jump position back. I had a dressage lesson the week before and my posting trot was just all over the place. Doesn't help that a few weeks ago my jump trainer hiked up stirrups again, so hanging my legs long isn't really in my vocabulary right now. I took myself off the lesson rotation for now. I want to spend some time just getting familiar again. I like to be a very good student, which translates to practice 'at home' and bring my best work to class.

I'm excited for this week's jump lessons (I take jump lessons every Tues & Sat). Tuesday will be more confidence building - which I had lost during Sam's time off. But on Saturday, Christmas eve, we'll be having a group 'fun time' with my trainer and several other students all riding together. Maybe we can do a little drill team action as well :D
Sam won't eat these.

Sam LOVES these.
On Saturday, a barn buddy was saying how none of the horses except one liked the treats she just got. I was puffed how Sam would like it. He's a notorious treat-monger and unabashed beggar. So, she gave him one. Then he literally spit it out onto the ground. Wow. They smelled like they'd be yummy, but I wasn't going to try it. If it's not good enough for Sam... Luckily for him I had his trusty peppermint stick waiting in the wings.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Padding along

Because I know better, I decided to get a Thinline bareback pad instead of the Parelli recommended by my trainer. I've even used her Parelli on a previous horse. But no, no... I scour the internet and decide to spend a little less and try to get a little more bang. Said pad arrived today so I hop to the barn to take it for a spin.

Thinline Comfort Plus,
best pricing from:
It fits ok. The back is really skinny looking, I'm not even sure my butt is going to fit. I do use a pad underneath to keep it clean. Probably a good idea because I had to girth it almost to the last holes. I do like the girthing system and that it comes with a girth - that was part of the appeal. I get on and it's cushy enough I guess. Here's where I point out that Sam is SUPER comfy bareback. I have no problem riding without a pad - I'm just looking for some extra stick and some appropriate cush to keep us both happy longterm.

We go round and round in the arena. Nothing more then a walk since I'm not ready to trot yet. Only trotted bareback on a lunge with prior horse. And then I start noticing my tailbone. Like, I can tell I have one. I can feel it. I reach back and there seems to be a ton of padding right there.

So I take off the pad and get back on with nothing. Ahhhh. And I'm sticking fairly well, even in my jeans. I can feel my tailbone, but probably because I'm aware of it now. Reaching back, I realize it's right where Sam's spine is. By itself, no biggie. With AP pad and Thinline panels inside bareback pad, I'd say it's an extra inch added. And the Thinline is bend centrally up right, uh... there.

Parelli pad on someone's cute pon-eh. 
The pad was shipped folded in half and it's winter, so it's cold (like 35 degrees) so it's not molded to the horse's back or anything, so it definitely had some peakness to it. But aside from that, it just seemed proportionally wrong from my view while I was sitting on it. It didn't roll and seemed to stick really well.

That's probably my biggest fear of the Parelli because that uses a different girthing system - which rolls on a stablemate's horse. But that rider actually jumps in the Parelli, so it can't be all bad.

Plus Parelli offers a free 30 day membership during which I can buy the pad for the member price which saves like $70. And free shipping this week. Merry Christmas to me, and Sam too. :)

I still like the overall idea of the Thinline pad, but perhaps it's just not the best combo for me and my horse. Or maybe in the summer it will fit better. I do use an Ultra Thinline pad under my jump saddle, so I do believe in the product. I guess it's time to find the perfect western girth and pay homage to my wise trainer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curls R Us

Sam is 1/2 curly horse, but you can't really tell in the summer. Not so in the winter. While he doesn't get ringlets in his mane and tail, or curly-cues that make his coat look like a poodle, he does grow a pretty awesome soft, crushed velvet pattern.

September 2011

November 2011

December 2011
He does wear at least a rain sheet this time of year and it's a 'wug' that goes up his neck a bit. You can kinda see right where it ends, defining the thicker section of his upper neck.

He's pretty darn cute. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cold day

First lesson of the morning, 30 degrees outside. There's ice crunchies on the top layer of the outdoor area. I've got a jacket on and Sam's got his fleece quarter sheet on, so we're not feeling it so much. Although at some point I don't think I could feel my pinky toes. But eventually we warm up and lose the layers.

My lesson went well. We worked on walk to canters which Sam has nailed since he reads my mind very well. And then we trotted some figure 8s of jumps and trot rails. We also worked on counter-canter which went beautifully when I remembered to keep asking for it, instead of trotting the change.

I have definitely noticed in the last week that my cardio has really stepped up and I can ride much longer without needing a break. I can better focus on key areas of riding improvement instead of just gasping for air. I'm definitely noticing when I make mistakes, what they are, and what I should have done instead. Now if I could just figure out which lead Sam's cantering on when we're riding straight.

One great winter essential is my Sperry rain boots. Not only are they super stylish and help me remember what spring looks like, but the micro-fleece inside is pretty darn warm and cushy. I've been wearing them to and from the barn, they're perfect for fetching my horse from the pasture and easily hosed off to keep my car clean on the way home. Although this week, it's been dry and freezing, so no mud to wash off. Bonus that I got them at outlet pricing.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A beginning

I have to start somewhere. Might as well be here. Might as well be about something I know. Or at least, I like to think I know. I would say welcome, but you've probably stumbled in without care and are just as eager to leave. You could be right. Just another dull horse blog. Perhaps. Time will tell as there will be telling with time.

For now, let's just start at the beginning. I've been riding solidly for the last 2 years, first with my Appy mare who is now retired and now with Sam who is a registered American Curly Horse, though he's 1/2 Appaloosa. In the winter, his coat is like crushed velvet rather then curls.

Sam's first day home.
Sam's about 15.2hh and almost 14yrs old. He's super cute and super sweet. More then once my jump trainer has said he's an angel and takes awesome care of me on course. We take dressage & jump lessons weekly, riding 4-6 times a week.

October lesson, ignore the chicken wings.

Thus the journey begins... an adventure with my pony, an adventure in writing. I blame SprinklerBandits for sending me over the edge.