Wednesday, May 15, 2013

3-14-13

I woke up with that walking on air feeling that I had when going to bed the night before, so I was really hoping that I could roll that over into our ride tonight. (It helps that I have an awesome husband who picked up the house before going to work... the nights I ride, I usually don't get home until around 10pm.)

Grocery shopping took priority over going to the barn right when Mike got home, so Shelby and I didn't get out there until after 7. It ended up being perfect, 80 degrees all day with Kentucky humidity does not make for a fun time for a pregnant lady. I mostly hide out in my central air all day. It had cooled down by the time we got the girls in and ready to be tacked up.

One thing that I've really worked hard on with Will is her ground manners. At 17.1 (and me at 5'3) she was way too big to be pushy. She had had wonderful, consistent training her whole life so the foundation was already set, I just built on it. Now when she spooks she doesn't try to climb in my pocket, she just makes herself realllly tall and breathes like a dragon for a few moments. A pat on the neck and a cluck and she's back on her way (still doing her dragon breathing though). So when the girls come in, I don't even have to tie her anymore. I can wander anywhere around her feet, do just about anything to her, and she's a rock. I love it.

Anyways, we quickly threw tack on them and I hemmed and hawed about lunging her. She warmed up so nicely the day before I wanted to replicate the experience but it was also warm enough that I didn't want to tire her out too soon. (As an aside: I rarely lunge to get the zoomies out. It's helpful in that aspect, but I prefer to use it as a training tool. Becky taught me that, and it's been invaluable. When the bridle goes on, it's time to work.) I decided to lunge her lightly.

She didn't warm up quite as well as yesterday, and there was lots of head tossing and body wiggling. I did the same thing that I did the day before and just kept pushing her forward. I don't really touch the lunge line unless I need to make a major correction. I prefer to let her figure it out with the side reins. If she gets distracted (i.e. her inside ear isn't fixed on me) I'll give a correction, then go back to the less is more theory.

I called it when she started to loosen up and really relax both directions and hopped on. I recognized right away that I didn't have quite the same loose horse under me as I did the previous day. She was a little bit more distracted, but gave me some baby leg yield to both directions at the walk and started to soften.

She was having a hard time focusing when we passed Sadie, preferring to slam on the breaks and pin her ears. I corrected her, and went back to what we were doing. I asked for some trot work and big lazy figure eights. She was great to the right, and then started in with rooting to the left. By the time we were done I was covered in slime from her head flinging. Yummy. I kept at it, with Shelby helping from the middle (I have no clue what I'm going to do without her!) We got a few good steps to the left, and I let her stop and walk.

We decided it was too nice a night to cool out in the arena, so out we went for a short hack around the arena. There is a house that sits on a hill above the farm, and some seriously sketchy noises come out of that joint. Will was locked onto the place from the second she spotted it. Sadie was a great  leader, and we stopped a few times and let Will do the bug eyed, dragon snort, at it. Lots of pats and good girls. We didn't go too far before turning around and heading back up towards the arena then up the drive way. 98% of my physical struggles are mental. Being a Mom has turned me into a total weenie. I know in my mind that there isn't much she can do that will get me off, but there is still a nagging that much louder than the "you can do it" voice saying "you can't afford to fall off." Especially right now, being a few weeks away from halfway through this pregnancy. It's the more frustrating than my lack of fitness and mental forgetfulness (like when I was happily posting away on the WRONG diagonal... and Shelby was like uhh... hello? Total mental fart.)

Anyways, we hacked up the driveway and back with no problem. Patted the girls and swung off in the barn yard. It was nice to get out of the ring and end on that note on such a nice night! The girls were nicely cooled out, so we gave them a good grooming (lots of carrots), and then turned them out for the night with dinner.

I'm going to start actively looking for a dressage trainer in the area who I like and if I can get Sadie sold, will be investing in 30-60 days of boot camp for Willow while I'm too humpty dumpty to ride. Then it's boot camp for me through the winter after I pop this sucker out. We have some big changes coming down the pike regarding Mike's career, that might allow us to actually buy a house in a more horsey area closer to his office (he drives over an hour right now) so trainers will be plentiful! I'm excited to start interviewing and really get focused with Willow. While I can't ride, I plan to lunge, ground drive, and just spend time with her. Hopefully we can find a good trainer and I can watch all her boot camp rides as well!

I'm off to go help out a good friend here on post, so I have to throw some clothes on Shannon a head out. I'll leave you with this video from last summer (I really need to get better about taking pics for these posts). I miss Frogs Leap so much!




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

3-13-13

Hey there!

If you're here from Finally Forever After, it's good to see you! If you're new, thanks for stopping by!

I created this blog for myself, as a (somewhat) daily record of the good, bad, and ugly bits of life with my girl, Willow. You can read a little bit about the both of us in the respective tabs up top there. :)

We've had about a weeks worth of rain here in KY, so it's made riding a little bit hard until the barn owner can get the sand ring going. The arena now is red clay and it's really not a safe surface until it dries (which takes forever). Shelby and I busted out like women on fire to the barn and quickly tacked the girls up. It was going to be my other mare, Sadie's, first trip under saddle since coming off the track. We were just hoping we could pick up with Willow where we left off, seemingly weeks ago.

We've had a real problem with her to the left, so Shelby has been focusing on lots of figure eights and riding her forward through the diagonal. Her evasion has been to slam on the breaks and start kicking at your leg and rooting her head when you send her forward. Bad mare. The response to that has been a sharp tap with the whip (with the leg) and immediate praise when she moves forward. It's made for some less than good looking moments!

I lunged her yesterday while Shelby and Sadie tried to figure out the whole 'lunging' concept and instead of letting her look all around and trot around, the side reins went on (loosely) right away. She threw a few hissy fits, bouncing around and trying to back up. I just kept sending her forward until she was moving forward and actually stretching into the contact of the side reins. At the beginning I could see how heavily she was leaning on the outside rein and really fighting with it. Throwing her body all over the place and just generally carrying on. I just kept sending her forward.

Finally it seemed she hit the lightbulb moment where she was stretching properly through her back and using her hind end to propel herself forward into the bridle. Hellllo soft, swingy trot! Floppy ears and all. Made this Momma proud!

After I finished lunging her, I went to help Shelby hop on Sadie (who was BRILLIANT) and Willow 'helped' me film the first few go arounds. She also was happy to model her new bling bling that I got her from Rolex a few weekends ago.


Then Shelby called it good with Sadie and we swapped reins so she could hop on Willow. I still haven't ridden her, but since my extreme morning sickness "seems" to be a thing of the past, I was thinking that maybe it was time to get going again (just in time to get too fat).

Shelby hopped on and was instantly saying "Wow! She feels so loose and forward!" Willow didn't throw one tantrum and looked AMAZING. She hopped off and handed me the reins, saying "You have to get on this mare." So up I went, in my shorts and sneakers (I know, I know) and holy. cow. I felt like I was riding a totally different horse. She was forward, but not out of control, relaxed, and SO light in my hand. I was beaming. I put my inside leg on and baby leg yield out. Inside leg on and baby leg yield back in. We ended on a great note with some stretchy walk on the buckle (my calves couldn't take anymore... I don't think I'll ever have to shave them again!) and dismounted with lots of pats.

We ended the night high as kites with how good our ponies were, and happily gave them a good brushing before turning them out with their dinner for the night.

Happy, happy, happy!

I'm off to go pluck a kitten out of my coffee, run some errands, and dig out my breeches that don't have buttons in the front!