Then the next night, our normal lesson night with the in barn trainer, we had our 2nd jump lesson. Figured it may be good to jump a little more before we go to a show and do it! It was a blast! As the lesson went on I could really feel him thinking about the jumps and my aids more. He progressively got better and better and really started to figure it out! Our biggest thing to work on is maintining a quality can't to the jump without getting faster. Because he is so green still getting a quality canter is hard enough without having to maintain it to a jump. But we pieced some 5 fence courses together including flower boxes, picket fence fillers, and cross rail oxers. What I love about him is that I can trust him to jump the jump. He is pretty brave and willing. The trainer and I discussed adding in some more oxers in the future to help improve his technique. He jumps quite flat over the small jumps but shows the ability to jump nicely when taken to the oxers. I think he is just not impressed. My homework is to not micromanage him to the jumps. I have to keep in mind that he is not my 3rd level dressage pony so I can't set him up like he is. We need an active but slower canter that stays the same in its rhythm without me changing anything 2 strides out. Super excited to see how he handles this weekends show!
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Bentley had a big last two days and I am pleased to say that he really rose to the occasion. Sunday he had his very first Teacher Mary dressage lesson. I LOVE teacher Mary. She has been there with me pretty much from the beginning with Mystic, and now Bentley too, which is super cool. The last few rides he has come out quite relaxed from the start which has been very helpful. TM had us focus on his rhythm because as we all know that is the building block to all. Being a very green OTTB baby rhythm is not his friend and is quite hard for him to maintain especially when asking him to do anything else along with it. We started with some forehand turns on a square where I had to keep him round while keeping him off my right rein and eventually progressed to completing a forehand turn and trottting off right away. His trot go less grounded/sewing machine like and his transitions became more prompt. We then played with bringing the circle smaller and leg yielding out to the big circle as I tried my hardest to not pull on my left rein that I think I must pull on to steer 😳 Next up was some baby haunches in type stuff down the wall where he really impressed me by picking it up quite quickly. It got harder and less angle in the trot but he still did it quite well. That exercise really helped his canter transitions because it helped get him to engage that outside hind leg. So not only were the transitions more prompt but they were not rushy and felt pretty good for where is he at. I'm looking forward to putting this all to work! And... he got the TM seal of approval. Can't ask more out of a day like that!
Friday, March 17, 2017
A week ago The Wonder Pony gave me the scare of a lifetime when he showed zero interest in eating his dinner. This horse lives for food. He is like a vacuum cleaner and doesn't pick up his head until the food is gone. 30 min later when he still hadn't touched his food he got banamine IV (praise the lord for awesome barn friends!!) and a little hand walk. Thankfully he perked up some within 25 minutes but still wasn't 100%. I took my dinner and a chair into his stall and sat with him for another 30 minutes until he started acting more normal and showed some interest in the little bit of hay I put in his stall. The barn owners did a late night check to make sure he was still looking okay and by the morning he was back to normal! He earned himself a few days of bareback walks and went back to work on Tuesday. Thankfully he hasn't looked back since and seems no worse for the wear.
With that scare behind us both of the boys got entered into their first show of the season! Next weekend a group from our bar is heading up to DevonWood for their dressage show and derby. Pony didn't really need to go do it is more for me. I need to learn to ride this level better in the ring and the best way to do that is at a low key schooling show. He will show 3rd test 1 both days.
Bentleys world is going to get rocked big time! I decided to do the dressage show on Saturday and the derby on Sunday. Mostly because for the derby division he is doing (cross rails for the win!) the dressage test is only walk/trot. I'm not saying our canter is anything to write home about right now but I feel really stupid doing an intro level dressage test all weekend. So Saturday we are doing training test 1 and Sunday he gets to hop around the cross rail course. Considering he has "jumped" 2 times in his life so far and this derby is in an open area there could be some entertainment involved with our round 😉 It will be a big weekend for him that's for sure! Also, the 25th (first day of the show) marks 3 months of him being off the track with me and it's his birthday! Looking forward to a fun weekend with my boys and my barn family!
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Bentley and I had one of those lessons where you finish and just apologize that the trainer had to witness it 😂 I showed up to the barn to get ready and got a message from the mediums (I can the teenage barn rats this) that I was jumping outside. Let's rewind a minute. It's our first jump lesson (he has been over tiny cross rails twice), first time riding in the outdoor in the dark, and he basically had a non existent ride the day before due to no fault of this own. This will be fun!
Pony want to make sure he is not forgotten!
I hopped on in the indoor and was riding a fire breathing dragon from the get go! He was amped. We headed outside and the first thing I said was "He is psycho tonight, good luck!". The first 30 minutes was spent in a trot that if you atattched needles to the bottom of his hooves he could nicely sew anything together. He was tense and paying attention to literally everything except for me. Once he settled slightly and started to sort of figure out the poles we moved to the canter where things were just as exciting but by now we were a little more relaxed (I use that term lightly). After cantering some poles a few times quite nicely she put up on a cross rail that he just stepped over like it was a pole on the ground. Once in the canter he did his best impression of a demolition derby and scattered the cross rail across the arena. The good news? At least he is a smarty pants and picked him his legs next time and actually jumped it very nicely! We then moved on to a small vertical with some flowers under neath. He came in a little wiggly but I closed my legs and he popped right over. Same thing with the "oxer" cross rail! And then the drama returned... he had been through the bounce of two cross rails a couple of times and was figuring it out when he decided he was done. And I mean done! This legs planted in the ground and even my 39" inseam legs couldn't get that pony moving. He was throwing a major tantrum. He was tired, everyone had left him, and he was headed away from the barn. Bad news for him? I was ready to take on the challenge. 15 minutes later he was going through the bounce better then he was before and we called it a day. I put his back on track sheet on, sore no mored his legs, wrapped his legs (it took him a while to figure out he had to pick his legs up and not take out the jump haha), and told him he would be a better man for it the next day.
The trainer suggested that the next day I take him back into the outdoor and just do some pole work so he doesn't associate the outdoor arena or jumping as being bad. So we did. It was dark and rainy just like the night before. I set some poles up and wouldn't you know the dude was 150% better! More relaxed in his work and was paying attention to me. Let's hope that behavior continues for our lesson next week!
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Although I am often called the DQ of the barn I am definitely someone that cannot drill in the arena 6 days a week and stay sane. Recently, with both boys, I have been hard at work getting ready for the show season and even though it wasn't me getting burned out this time I think the boys were a little over the indoor arena. The weather has been so crappy we haven't had an opportunity to ride outside much but this week that changed.
After our less then stellar ride in the clinic on the last day we followed it up with an even worse one. On that note I threw on his jump tack for the next ride and we went and played out in the outdoor over some poles and cross rails. And wouldn't you know it the dude was a straight up beast! He was looser and more accepting from the get go and we had a fabulous ride where he even cantered some cross rails. Then on Sunday a friend and I, which turned into 3 friends, just went on a hack down the road a couple of miles. It was our longest trail ride to date and even though another horse was all jacked up he maintained himself quite well. After the two rides of changing things up we had a flat lesson on Monday night and he showed up to play. He was very rideable and progressed throughout the entire ride. It was not without its moments of struggles but he didn't get worked up like he did the previous clinic. And that's when the trainer mentioned that I should take him to Tulip Springs next weekend to do the Eric Smiley clinic there where he could experience Xc for the first time 😳 It's not set in stone but I did put some feelers out. It may happen or it may not.
Mystic has been doing well also! I have really tried to crack down on the things both JW and Teacher Mary have had us working on. He is accepting more weight behind and going deeper in his neck more consistently but still not without struggles most rides. We've been working super hard so he also got a nice hack day on Sunday to recharge. He is looking quite good body wise and feeling better in his fitness also. I am hoping to take him up to JW again this weekend if it all works out. And then we will see Teacher Mary again next weekend as long as I don't take the baby up to Tulip Springs. I am seriously loving having all of these lessons and wish I would have had the means to do this years ago. Better late then never I guess! We are aiming for Heart of the Valley in May at 3 level with scores that will hopefully reflect our hard work this winter 😃
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Our barn flies Eric Smiley in for a clinic twice a year and the past two days have been spent listening to his amazing accent. Since Bentley has just over 20 rides on him and the first jump group was a BN group we unfortunately had to stick with the flat only option. Bentley came out pretty hot on the first day but after a little trot warm up settled in and had a great ride. Eric's main two points were that we need to ride the pace and the line. He wanted the horses taking us, not us constantly pushing our horses, and to maintain a steady consistent pace. To do this we did some synchronized riding with the other two riders and it was actually pretty fun! He had us single file about two horse length apart and would call out something such as "prepare 20m circle towards the left.... ride now". If we maintained our pace and line then we should all be able to complete that and land back on the wall at the same time in the same spacing we have before. By the end of this exercise, as it went on he called out slightly harder things, Bentley was actually very consistent and attentive. We finished with some canter work with the same focus. Forward and consistent. Once we finished and came back to the middle he looked at me and said "He's going to be a gem" and gave me his signature thumbs up 👍🏼
Day 2 came and it was much more hectic. I had to go straight from my other job to the barna nd pretty much get right on. Someone else even had to tack up for me. So I got on a hot and tense horse that ideally needed more warm up before starting. We went right back into our 20 m circle with the other two horses and he wasn't a fan of them coming up close behind him or them being in front as he just wanted to blow through me and go for a little run. That resulted in him being a little bit of a fruit loop. He isn't bothered by that stuff normally but I have found he comes to work much better if he is given a solid 10-15 min walk when I first get on especially if he is feeling fresh. That wasn't a luxury he had that day. Although we had some good work in was mixed in with quite a bit more not great work and he was much less consistent. Looking back on it I think we would have benefited more from a private lesson on the second day. The three horses in the flat group were all at very different points in their training and when it's a group lesson you can't cater to just one person. The exercises we were doing were great but I just didn't have his mind engaged enough to feel like we were at a point where he was ready to handle them at that time. If I had 10 min on my own to get him into a better place I think it would have gone much better but that's the price you pay for group flat lessons! I got a tiny bit of video from day 2 (of course it's from our not so great work!) I'm working on uploading.
Between the tips/exercises from both JW and ES I am excited to put them to use. He is feeling more and more broke everyday! Next up? Our first jump lesson with a clinician coming to our barn next weekend! One of my goals this year is to ride in more clinics both with new people and with people I already enjoy. We are off to a great start!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Mystic and I have made a TON of progress in the last two months and I want to keep building on that so I hauled the 2 hours up north to JW for another lesson Sunday. I haven't had a day off at home since the beginning of January so why take one now?!
This time Mr Bentley also got to go! It was his first big boy outing and I really had no idea how he would handle it.
The boys watching me pack the trailer in the morning 😊
Mystic was up first and we had a really tough lesson. JW really nailed into me about not allowing him to brace his neck against me. I mentioned how I have a hard time keeping his shoulders coming around the circle while doing travers and such so we worked on that until I understood the idea and we moved onto the canter. The biggest take away is that he needs to be more consistently in these quality trot/canter where he isn't using the wrong parts of his neck and is actually using his hind end and back more. The inconcsistency really came out when we did some school horse canter work. Once we broke through the what I like to call "gross" canter we got some super, super nice canter work! All that hard work earlier in the lesson was all worth it for those moments!
Th Pony had sweat/foam in places I didn't know they could! He got a nice linament bath and graze when we got home and is marinating in his BOT sheet over night.
Bentley came off the trailer alert and slightly on edge but not bad at all. He got to go into a paddock outside while I rode Pony so I'm sure that helped him settle in. He tied to the trailer while I tacked him up and although he didn't stand still that well he wasn't flinging himself around and he tied well. When we first got into the arena he was definitely antsy. JW asked if I needed to lunge first but I said no I'll just hop on. I climbed up and off we went! He was walking very forward and was taking in everything but remained composed. The big guy stepped up just about blew me away with how professional and workman like he was for the lesson! It was by far his best work to date. He was responsive to all of my aids and really seemed to take it all in which helped him pick up on things quickly. By the end he was doing baby leg yields, turn on the forehands, and was having solid upward and downward transitions. Some key points for me to remember with him are to play the 5,4,3,2,1 game wii him at the trot, continue leg yield work, pick up canter off of incorrect posting diagonal, play with baby counter positioning and a deeper neck positioning, and don't do too many circle. Change it up a lot. Think of my rides with him as having a bunch of small little projects where I can get in and get of of them and move on so I'm not drilling him too much on one thing. I'm very excited for this boy! Now on to our Eric Smiley clinic on Tuesday and Wednesday 😃
Big butt, little butt. Fat butt, skinny butt.
Monday, February 13, 2017
Bentley saw the vet on Friday as his swelling wasn't going away. He was getting iced, wrapped and buted for 5 days with zero progress. The sensitive dude has cellulitis... he's on meds and is back in work which seems to help keep the elephant trunks at bay somewhat. While the vet was there I also had them do his teeth, sheath, and some chiro work. He should feel like a whole new man! My first two rides back on him after over a week off were quite good considering. We have our first lesson tonight and our Eric Smiley clinic is next week 😳
On another note he also gave himself a mud facial. No denying that this dude loves the mud. Unfortunately he didn't maintain his composure and instead between rolling in mud puddles he was ripping around like a wild man and pulled both of his front shoes. Remind me why I got a OTTB again?! In all seriousness I really do love this horse much more then I thought I would at this point.
And, yes. He got a bath after his mud adventure!