Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Piaffe on schoolmaster Aron

I've posted about Aron before. He's the schoolmaster I got to lease for 18 months a couple years ago. He can do everything but ones (and the stars have to be in alignment to get twos). His piaffe and passage are excellent and easy.

The first time I ever rode Aron was in a clinic with Wolfgang. It was the first time I'd ever been on an FEI horse. During that first ride, Wolfgang guided me through everything Aron could do, including fours. I was thrilled! I clearly remember my first experience of piaffe. A thought flitted through my mind: "This would be about a four on the Richter scale."

Here's me and Aron working on piaffe. Good boy, Aron!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting the hang of this work-in-hand thing

More craptastic weather today! Too cold for breeches, so I lunged and did work in hand with Willow. The work in hand was awesome! We did half steps all the way down the long side, and Willow maintained her composure the whole way. She's such a good girl and always tries so hard. We also did more work on the small canter circle, where she has suddenly gotten quite confident. Especially to the left, she has figured out how to send her canter energy up instead of forward. I think it's starting to click on the right, too.

Don't forget to watch the Derby!

The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday. Have you picked your favorite yet?

The Contenders

I'm not really a fan of horse racing, having met too many messed-up OTTBs. But, I do always watch the Derby. I don't bet on the race, and I'm not a Nielsen household, so I figure technically I'm still not supporting horse racing. And when I watch the post parade, I'm looking for the horse that would have the best shot at a second career in dressage.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Still laughing

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in awhile.

Update: Whoops, looks like the ad got yanked off of YouTube. As of 4/30, you can still view it here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

By sheer force of will

I found this video while noodling around looking at dressage clips on YouTube. The rider explains that this is this young mare's first show, and she was a problem rearer in the past, so the reaction to the rear was aimed at keeping them both from going over backwards. I believe the young lady actually defies the laws of physics by not falling off. And I love how she regroups and finishes the test.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April is the cruelest month

The horrendous weather continues. Today's high was 49, with rain all day and gusty winds. I decided to focus on lungeing and work in hand with Willow tonight so I could remain bundled up. (I used to live in Nebraska, and with the winters we had there I wouldn't have considered 49 degrees "bundling up" weather, but my blood has thinned.)

Willow looked great on the lunge. Tonight I did a lot of work on an eight-meter circle, walk-trot-canter (with plenty of breaks on the larger circle!). It's so great to see Willow finally able to maintain canter on such a small circle in her own balance. For the longest time I thought she'd never stop dragging me to the outside. I could tell it's hard work for her, though; she was really puffing. I can't wait until the day she's capable of a canter volte under saddle. Not to mention pirouette!

I finished up with work in hand to the right. No piaffe tonight, but some definite half steps and good collected trot. Tomorrow we may have some sun and it's supposed to be a little warmer. No excuse not to ride!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I just received a recent photo of Willow's colt, Isle Royale, aka Moose, now a three-year-old. His owner's name is Stefanie. Is Stefanie really short, or is Moose really tall?

I think he's a very handsome fellow. He's got Willow's long neck and pretty face. Stefanie says he's in yet another growth spurt, which explains his ribbiness. Willow was just the same way. I thought she'd never fill out.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor snow

Man, are we having some crappy weather in the Willamette Valley this spring. Today's high was 45, and it's been alternating between rain, sleet, hail, and snow. I consider the fact that I dragged myself out to the barn to ride borderline heroic. Kudos to Willow for not freaking out when it started hailing on the metal roof of the arena.

I cut the tags off the saddle today. I really like it, and so does Willow. How lucky are we to have found the right saddle on the very first try? In other news, I'm finally back to bridling Willow on the near side. And it only took eleven months! It's so nice that she's no longer a special needs child.

Stuff to start working on in earnest: counter canter, canter lengthening, walk-canter-walk.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Star Wars Holiday Special

A note from a friend who saw the "Star Wars According to a Three-Year-Old" post mentioned the existence of a Star Wars Holiday Special from 1978. I found clips from it on YouTube.

I honestly didn't know it was possible to fit so many cringeworthy moments in such a short span of time. My favorite YouTube comment was from the viewer who observed, "I'm not high, but when I watch this, I feel like I must be."

Happy Life Day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Almost ready to cut off the tags

I think my new saddle's a winner! My test ride today went swimmingly. Willow always wigs out a bit when I put a new saddle on her; she's pretty sensitive. So she had to jig for a few minutes when I first got on, but before long she settled into a big-strided walk. I realized I had the stirrups a hole too short, but I decided not to mess with them lest Willow go back to jigging.

The trot was a little tight at first, too, but again Willow relaxed quickly and moved out in a nice, swingy fashion. Because of the too-short stirrups, I didn't bother trying to sit, but I can tell this saddle has a very comfortable feel.

The canter was what all but sealed the deal for me. I started in right lead, where Willow tends to want to lean and galumph. This new saddle has bigger knee rolls than the Kieffer (in the Kieffer's defense, it was too small for me, so my knees tended to poke over the knee rolls). I found the knee rolls on the new saddle really helped me to help Willow to stay up in front. They gave me some much-needed leverage. For the first time in right lead canter, my seat felt secure enough to really influence each stride. And the left lead was just plain awesome.

Tomorrow I'll drop the stirrups a hole and see how that feels. If the longer stirrups feel right, then I'm going to keep the saddle. If the longer stirrups feel too long, then I'll probably swap the saddle for an 18.5" seat. Dressage Extensions has a generous test ride policy, by the way.

We had sunny skies and highs near 80 today, so I gave Willow her first bath of the year. Then I hand-grazed her for 45 minutes. She found a big patch of clover and pigged out. It was a good day.

Ask John Yoo

Do you need someone to write you a legal opinion to justify your questionable, illicit, barbaric, or just plain reprehensible actions? Problem solved!

Ask John Yoo!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I think it fits!

The new saddle I ordered finally arrived today. I missed the UPS delivery and so had to drive up to Springfield to pick it up at the main facility. By the time I got to the barn it was too late to ride, but I popped Willow in the cross ties and did a preliminary check of the fit. Everything looks good! I can't wait to try it out for real tomorrow. Willow's had a week off waiting for the new saddle, so she'll likely be feeling frisky.

I put my Kieffer up for sale on Ebay and watched the thrilling finish of the auction late last night. Two people got in a bidding war and I ended up getting over $100 more than I expected. Bless you, Ebay.

Tomorrow's forecast: sunny, with temps in the mid seventies. It's been cold and dreary for so long that I'd just about lost the will to live. It's spring fever time!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Saddle shopping, blech

It's time for a new saddle for Willow. My trusty Kieffer Wien fit her reasonably well as a gangly four-year-old, but now that she has filled out and muscled up, it sits on her wonky. I've been using a thick sheepskin to mitigate the less-than-ideal fit, but a recent visit from a saddler, who let me test drive one of his lovely, comfy creations, has finally convinced me it's time to make a change. Unfortunately I can't afford the comfy saddle.

I hate saddle shopping. There are too many choices, too many variables. The thoroughbred in Willow gives her a really high wither, and my father's side of the family gives me very long legs. We're both a tough fit.