Friday, December 30, 2016

Louisiana clinic day four

Our week in Louisiana flew by, and now we are all home again. Everyone, that is, except Dakota, who decided to refuse to load for the trip home. I had really been working with him on loading in the weeks leading up to the trip, and when we left Lubbock he hopped on board like a pro. I expected no trouble, but after ninety minutes of trying we left him behind at Holly's barn. We had ten hours of driving in front of us and couldn't spend the whole day loading Mr. D. I've got a call in to Equine Express to pick him up ASAP. We didn't let that little hiccup put a damper on our wonderful visit and clinic.

Here are the videos from the final day of the clinic. Clair gave me some BIG trot and I got better control of my body in canter, most of the time. Dakota was feeling almost 100% and was wonderfully relaxed and responsive. The biggest homework for him is to work on canter by working on canter departs. Lots and lots of trot-canter-trot-canter on a circle, with just a few strides of canter at a time. R rides him almost 100% of the time, so all credit to her for how great he's going! I'm hoping to be able to get on him maybe once a week now that my little gig with Wylie the OTTB has ended.

We'll also be doing some INTENSIVE work on trailer loading :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Louisiana clinic day three

Clair and Dakota are really enjoying their vacation pasture. :)

Here are the videos from day three. Dakota was a little sore behind so we only did walk and a little gentle trot; didn't get any video of that. Clair was super! I worked very hard on flapping my upper body less in canter. Always something to improve.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Louisiana clinic day one -- Christmas Day

Ted and I had a problem-free trip to Louisiana on Christmas Eve. We left Lubbock around 8:30 a.m. and arrived in Monroe just after 6 pm. The horses happily munched grass hay the whole way, and their poops looked nice and healthy upon arrival. Clair leaped off the trailer with her usual enthusiasm, and Dakota hopped off like a gentleman. They're staying at trainer Holly's barn, and they're getting to have a whole hilly pasture to themselves. What could be better after ten hours stuck on a trailer?

Suzanne was completely up for giving me lessons on Christmas Day! What a dedicated trainer! And personally, there's probably nothing I'd rather be doing on Christmas Day than training with Suzanne. It was a warmish, humid day, so I rode in a t-shirt. Clair was up first. Ted wasn't able to get a lot of video of that ride because he was busy trying to unstick the tack room door lock on our trailer. I couldn't get any of my tack out, or gloves, helmet, whip... But luckily Holly has multiples of everything to try so we got a saddle and bridle to fit, and a helmet, and gloves. Clair didn't bat an eye and went happily under a different saddle, with a different bit, and a flash, which she normally doesn't wear. She's such a trouper. She settled right into work. The trot work went super well, and Ted did manage to unstick the lock and make it back to get video of canter. Right lead canter felt really good, and left got better as we went. I need to stop moving back and forth so much. Less pumping with the upper body, and less sliding of the butt forward and back in the saddle. We've got three more days of lessons to improve the canter.

Dakota was fence walking in the pasture the whole time I was working Clair. He didn't holler much, but he was anxious and in a full lather. It used to be that Dakota would scream for Clair, and Clair couldn't care less, but today when I popped Clair in the pasture and grabbed Dakota, Clair hollered frantically for quite awhile, and Dakota kept answering. He was a bit of a challenge to tack up as all he could think about was getting back to Clair. But we got 'er done, and after about twenty minutes of walking to let him settle (which still involved some screaming) he finally found his focus and we got some work done. There's some actual decent shoulder-in in the video (and some not-so-great shoulder-in). The canter departs were pretty terrible, but I was proud of him for pulling himself together and going to work after being in near-panic mode during tack-up. Tomorrow should go a lot better.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Suzanne May December clinic: Sunday!

More trotting goodness from Sunday. Clair is REALLY moving, and I'm starting to be able to stick with her as we move towards a medium. Still lots of work to do in canter, which we didn't spend any time on on Sunday. Exciting plans: my husband and I are hauling Clair and Dakota to Louisiana for an intensive four-day clinic with Suzanne! We'll leave Christmas Eve day and return the following Thursday. I'm so pumped! We made such good progress in this past clinic, and continuing the training and consistency so soon is going to be wonderful. Plus Dakota will have a little boot camp and practice going somewhere.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Suzanne May December clinic: Saturday!

This clinic, for me, was almost 100% about the trot -- me sitting it well, me learning to apply effective half halts that resulted in a more beautiful gait. And we had great success! I'm still flying high! I think if you listen to Suzanne and watch closely, you'll get a small master course in what an effective half half looks like. You can actually see it in many of these videos. It's all timing, timing, timing. I was sort of getting it before the clinic, but Suzanne helped me refine my aids to hold just a bit longer after asking for the half steps, so that Clair steps through to the poll. It takes some practice. Sometimes I give too soon, and sometimes I hold too long. But when I get it, the trot shifts into bigger, swingier mode.