Friday, August 31, 2018

Is it August?

I haven't posted since the spring -- boo! And so much has happened since then! In addition to giving lessons at the barn where I keep my horses, I'm also now the head instructor at a Western barn south of town. I started that gig in July and it's really taking off. I'm basically just teaching dressage fundamentals in a Western saddle. I have two lovely school horses to work with: Yeller, a very elderly palomino with a crazy sway back, who takes care of the little beginners (but still has a lope in him!), and Mojo, a nicely-put-together, solid little paint who does it all, from toting around beginners to becoming a zippy little sports car for the more advanced folks. I am very proud of a recent creation of mine: I sewed a fluffy bed pillow to the underside of a Western saddle blanket to fill in the gap in Yeller's extreme swayback. I think he'll be a lot more comfortable now that the saddle won't be bridging.

J., the awesome grad student who had been leasing Dakota, had a sudden opportunity to study in Australia, so in addition to Clair I'm riding Dakota full time as well. Dakota is schooling all of second level, and Clair is schooling all of third level. Clair threw out a crazy double spook in early June and dumped me hard. I fell with my full weight on the back of my left ilium, and boy did it hurt. Luckily I didn't fracture my pelvis. I did pass out later in the day and fell face forward onto my jaw, knocking it sideways out of alignment for a few days. But I was back in the saddle after a week! The injury did slow me down a bit, riding-wise, for part of the summer. I'm still stiff and sore but better every day.

Clair's trot half pass is just super these days. I also have a reliable, decent medium trot. At third level they want extended, so we'll just have to see how we score. Canter half pass is starting to come. The canter overall is becoming highly collectible. On the lunge she's offering pirouette canter. I've decided to push my third-level score attempt to a show in the spring. We might be able to squeak our scores this fall, but I'd like to feel solid. The next Suzanne & Gwen clinic will likely be in early October.

My husband and I successfully sold our last flip and bought the next one in mid-June. We've been working on it like mad and hope to have it on the market in 3-4 weeks. Hard work, but so fulfilling!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Cleaning up the flying changes

Clair's flying changes have gotten so obedient and calm! It has been a solid year since we started working on them. During that time the canter sort of fell apart and then came back together again, bigger and stronger. At one point I dropped working on flying changes for six weeks and went back to simple changes through walk to get the feeling of the half halt back into the canter. At one point I thought I would never get the change right to left. Now, right to left is her better, cleaner change! Left to right is slightly sticky but so close to correct. I see in this video that I'm behind the motion again (argh) so that may be the problem. I'm also working on asking for the change a hair sooner -- during the third beat of the canter. Fixing my shoulders has also made a world of difference. When you twist your torso to follow the horse's shoulders, you have to remember to keep your arms independent (outside arm must go BACK to keep the outside rein, inside arm must go FORWARD to give the inside rein).

This sport is hard. But so rewarding!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shoulders! (mostly mine)

You think you're doing it right, and then you finally get some eyes on you, and you're not! Or at least I'm not. I thought I had my weight to the inside of the bend, but no -- you can plainly see in the Dakota video that, to start, I'm on my outside seatbone. And I thought I had my shoulders following the horse's shoulders, but no -- you can plainly see in the Clair video that I have my outside shoulder back and my inside shoulder forward. Suzanne fixed me up!

In other news, Dakota is finally developing a respectable canter.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

January clinic video

This weekend Gwen and Suzanne were here for a clinic. We lucked out with the weather -- chilly, but sunny and almost no wind. I bought Gwen and Suzanne heated mini-blankets, and they were a big hit. It's something to consider for your next winter clinic!

This past week I got two right-to-left flying changes without a ground pole. Woo! I was worried Suzanne wouldn't believe me, but Saturday I got one again! It has been a LOOOONG time coming. Maybe we'll be ready for third level at the rated show in April after all. I don't have video from Saturday, but I do have it for Sunday. Suzanne and Gwen thought a good exercise to sharpen up the flying changes would be going back to simple changes through walk. So there's video of that, and there's video of our first attempts at canter half pass. The only time I ever did canter half pass was on the schoolmaster, Aron, that I leased back in 2005-2006, and his canter half pass was so confirmed and easy that it didn't really help me learn how to train it. Today on Clair we got a few baby strides each direction, and I got the right feeling.

I also rode Dakota. He'd had a couple weeks of just lungeing off the halter due to his teeth, which needed to be floated. His teeth were done Wednesday, and I got a couple rides in before the clinic, but he was a little bit above the aids part of the time. Nevertheless, we made some good strides in improving his canter, and even got a soft, clean, canter-walk transition to the left. I'm hoping to show him second level at some point this year, even if it's a schooling show.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Wonderful week of training in Louisiana!

The ponies and I returned to Lubbock Saturday evening after traveling 1200 miles round trip. That was my first long haul solo, and it went just fine. Dakota loaded like a trouper at both ends. Both kids are great travelers, not even seeming to stress much. It was fun to be able to see them munching on their hay nets via the wireless cam.

I took lessons on both horses every day for four days, except Wednesday when I just rode Clair. We introduced Clair to the double bridle, and it could not have been less of a big deal. She is such an oral horse; two bits actually make her happier, I think. She'd probably take another bit stuffed in there for good measure. I'm still refining my technique of holding the reins in the French method. Clair has also gotten extremely sensitive to my outside leg in the left lead canter, so we experimented with where my right leg should go to not trigger her irritation. We made good progress and got many happy left-lead circles. Quirky mare.

Further proof that Clair has an oral fixation? Here's what her trailer tie looked like when we arrived in Louisiana:

Dakota worked his little butt off. He showed off shoulder in, haunches in, baby half pass, and trot lengthenings. Suzanne was thrilled with him in every way. He may go third level before too long as well! Sorry I have no video, but my videographer/husband had to stay behind this time.

Coming up on Sunday -- another Blarney Stone dressage schooling show. Trainer Gwen is judging, and Suzanne is coming along to give me a couple lessons while they're here. Woo!