2013 Memories

2013 Memories

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Update

 
We will get the bad news out of the way first... 3 surgeons looked at Mystics radiographs and all agreed that his side bone is fractured. They also agreed that with the nerve blocks that were done he should have blocked significantly better, if not sound, which was not the case. So the potential of there being a bigger problem is still at play. The vet school is having a lameness course and they asked to use him. Thankfully that means I will get all the diagnostics done at no charge to me. So he will get re nerve blocked (and they will go up higher) and radiographed again. Also any other diagnostics that may need to be done if something else is found. So everything is up in the air until he goes in the first week of May. Either way, we know there is a long term rehab involved with the fractured side bone (and potential for surgery still).

Bentleys update is much better though! Here is a comparison picture of him when I got him versus last week. I wish his ears were up and he wasn't standing quite as funny but keeping him still with his head off the ground was quite the chore!
 

I think he is finally starting to look better to me. It's hard when you see them every day to see the long term progress but the ribs are starting to be covered! My vet even commented on how much better he looks and compared him to a swim suit model. His jumping is coming along and I can start to feel how his jump is going to be as he continues to develop. I think as the fences get bigger he will just keep getting better and better. 
 

He has a busy next couple of weeks. While I am gone in Kentucky (less then a week!!) he is going to get a week of training rides. This will be the first time anyone else has ridden him. The weekend after I get back he is doing the dressage show in barn on Saturday and then going back up to DevonWood on Sunday to do the derby again. Then the following weekend we are doing the jumper show that is also held at our barn. Can't wait for all the fun to begin! And very thankful that I have him to keep me going through this summer without the Wonder Pony 😃 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Here we go again...

Just when you start getting back into the swing on things something always has to go wrong. Especially with horses! Unfortunately the Wonder Pony is, yet again, on another unplanned "vacation". The diagnosis being a fractured side bone. Leave it up to my horse to 1) fracture a bone that he wasn't even born with and 2) fracture a bone that very rarely ever causes problems let alone fractures. 
 

I am still waiting to hear back from my vet as to what steps we need to take and what kind of time frame we are looking at. He sent Ponys radiographs to the radiologist and is trying to track down the surgeon to get their opinions. Worst case he heads to surgery to have it removed. Best case my vet calls and tells me happy late April fools (wishful thinking right?). As of now it sounds like we have a long road ahead of us. To say I'm heart broken would be an understatement. I love this Pony more then anything and am at a loss as to why the past year has been filled with so many lameness problems. I am hoping to hear back from my vet today to get a game plan. It's looking like Baby Bentley is going to have to step up this season! 
 

Thankfully I'm off to escape my pony problems in just over a week as I head to Rolex with some good friends 😃

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Break Through

As I've mentioned before Bentley is a brave and game over fences but highly uneducated. I mean having jumped 5 times doesn't really make you an expert. The thing is... the dude thinks he's an expert! What we have learned about him is that he is very brave and game when he gets to do it his way (read: this includes running. Before the jump, after jumps, over the jump where ever 😂). In turn he was the equivalent of a one man wrecking ball because he would brace, run, and barely even pick up his legs. He was never out of control and he was quite pleased with himself but he would also either demolish a solid 50% of the jumps or have an awkward jump. To work on this we set some trot poles in front of the cross rail. He willingly went through but wasn't buying into doing it my way and instead had some rough approaches. After that he decided my way sucked (even though he never really did it fully my way) and if he couldn't do his way he wouldn't do it at all. Point him at a single fence and he was fine. 
 
The trainers working student been tacked up for me so I could get to my lesson in time!

So this past week I spent some time doing just pole work. But he had to do the pole work my way. The goal was to keep it simple and allow him to figure out the name of the game. He was great!!
 
Our pole work exercise 
 Fast forward to our jump lesson today and we had a major break through! The trainer and I discussed our new game plan now that we know a little more how he ticks when it comes to jumping. We started off with random poles throughout the arena. With no course we just trotted and cantered around over all the poles every which way. He was super rideable and was much more aware of his legs. Then we slowly added some jumps one at a time. He was looking for the jumps, not rushing, and actually felt a little rounder in his jumping style. He even gave me a couple of lead changes on his own. He jumped around intro sized fences with everything from flowers, to picket fences, to planks with zero issues! He actually even bailed me out of a few that I didn't ride well to and instead of running out or stopping he popped right over. Once he figures out how to use his body he will be quite the jumper I think. Love him!
 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Cross Rails to 3rd Level

Last weekend our barn kicked off show season and it was seriously a blast. Every person came home with a blue ribbon (or two!) and had very successful rides. The boys were great and my only "complaints", if you can call them that, have to do with either how I rode them or the training they don't have yet. Can't complain about that! Actually that's a lie. Hand walking Bentley around on Saturday was like flying a 1200lb kite. It was only when we walked by the jump arena which I thought was not promising for the next day. Thankfully it wasn't a sign! 

Here are some picture and video evidence of the weekend!
 

 



Bentleys first dressage test ever! It also happened to be on his 5th birthday and exactly 3 months after coming off the track. Training level test 1- he got just over a 64%! Couldn't be more excited for this boys future.

 
 
 
Ponys third level is coming along. Score didn't really reflect it and we still have lots to work on but he is feeling stronger and stronger! He finished the weekend with a 62% and a 63.5%. Favorite judges comment was "Lots to like here. Plus cute points 😁". Scores were all over the board from 4 (damn changes... but we did manage to get a 6 on one of our changes! That was a first) to 8s! Now to get more consistency in our test to keep the scores up. It's always a pleasure to ride this boy even if it feels like progress isn't coming as quickly as I would like.

 
 
Bentley also competed in his first derby where he did the cross rail class. It was only his 4th time ever jumping! He was super game and had a blast. Even jumped his first xc jump without hesitation! Unfortunately he demolished the last fence (picking up his feet is a work in progress) because if he hadn't he would have gotten 2nd place with a dressage score of 33.5.



 
When your horse looks/acts like it could be going prelim and then shows up for the cross rail class 😂
 

Looking forward to going back for this same show in May! Next time we will not be doing cross rails though!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Back to back

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!
 


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!
 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Colic Scare and Upcoming Activities

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

One of those lessons

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

Changing it up

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

Eric Smiley Clinic

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

Maiden Voyage

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

Upward Swing

 
Fingers crossed but both my boys seem to be on an upward swing as of now. Mystic and I had a fabulous lesson with Teacher Mary on Sunday where we built on what JW and I had worked on. We started off with some canter work making super he was going forward and was supple to both sides to help prevent him from locking up one side (particularly his right side). It is worlds better then it was a few months ago but now that we have done a decent amount of change work with him he would rather just swap leads instead of maintaining the correct lead. Bonus points for him though because the changes he gave me were clean! We then moved onto some trot work on a circle where we worked on moving him from renvers to travers. Here is where I really realized how much he locks me out of access to his right side. Some homework I need to do along with getting him more supple that direction is making sure that I am still riding the shoulders around the circle and not letting his chest point to the outside. After making progress on the circle we moved to half passing off the wall and turning that into shoulder in down the centerline. This really helped me break down the change of hand of the half pass. Instead of moving straight from half pass one way to shoulder in the opposite way in one swoop we broke it down one step further to go from half pass to shoulder in the same direction to shoulder in the new direction to half pass new direction. Let me tell you how much brain power that took to try to manage all of that!! At one point he started to get stiff to my right aids so Mary had us scratch what we were doing and go into a medium trot across the diagonals. We got the right rein issue sorted out in our mediums and then took that new trot back into the half pass exercise and had our best go at it to date where it all felt honest and smooth! Progress 🙌🏼
 

 

 
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!
 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

JW Clinic: Day 2


Day 2 of the clinic actually happened on Sunday for me so the Pony had a nice relaxing day if just walking on Saturday so he could save his energy for another lesson. I was super pleased with how he felt right off the bat. More sitting power, bigger steps, bouncier and more adjustable gaits, and the list continues. Again, we went right to the canter. This lesson she changed up how she wanted me to set him up for a change. The previous ride we had a little all out battle just getting him hotter off my leg into the change and he got very strong. This lesson she had me take him down the wall in a shoulder in for the opposite direction we were traveling. So as we were tracking right we went down the wall in a left shoulder in with left positioning thinking about keeping his hind legs close together (aka maintaining the collection) and wouldn't you know it he popped in a clean change first time! We switched directions and did the same thing tracking left and got the same result. On that note we ended our work on the changes for the day! JW mentioned that if he comes out at home like that, and gives me two clean changes right away, to walk him out and put him away even if it's in the first 15 minutes of riding.

 
Next up we built on the beginnings of our canter pirouettes. On Friday we had done some very larg partial turns but Sunday we got much tighter and full turns. We started out by taking him from haunches in to shoulder in at the canter making sure that I could put him wherever I wanted to. JW made it clear that I should test everything in the canter to make sure I can put his body wherever I want. Can I make him bend right/left? Haunches in? Haunches out? Shoulder in? Faster/slower, etc because if I can do all of those things then th pirouette should have no probelm. Tracking right he likes to pop his left shoulder out so she had me being him into it in a counter bend which helped a lot. Another key to them is that I want to use my outside rein to help turn his shoulders not just the outside leg. JW mentioned that many people over ride the outside leg (I majorly used to in our wal pirouettes) and get a falling in because what is really needed is inside leg and outside rein guiding the shoulders around. We actually got some full 360 turns in of a 4th level size pirouette.  She told me to school then just like that for the next 4-5 months and also gave me a square exercise to do with it. I have actually done a bit of the square one but not much. Basically you ride a square in the middle of the arena by doing 1/4 turns of a pirouette at each corner. Seems simple but it is amazingly difficult to maintain the canter, get the turn, and keep them straight down the next side. 




All video is from day 1. Unfortunately I didn't get any video from day 2 as I really think we improved some things. I uploaded the full versions of the videos so you guys get to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the rare "holy crap I have a dressage horse" moments 😁




After all the canter work we moved back to some trot work. I requested that we did a little bit more of the shoulder in and half pass work from the previous lesson just so I could really get it down. We made progress in the changes of direction in the half pass but I really need to school the half pass to opposite shoulder in exercise so I can confidently nail it much more often. Right now it is quite wiggly and takes me a bit to establish.




We had a little bit of time left and I left it up to her as to what to work on and she suggested we start some piaffe work. Ummm.... okay! He gets the basic idea from the half step work so it wasn't starting from scratch. She noticed that he works best when she doesn't touch him with the whip but instead just waves it beside him. We got a couple of baby, baby forward steps (more passagey) which felt super cool! Her biggest emphasis was that I need to be very clear with my legs that they got far back for piaffe and I shove them forward into the walk so that there is nothing to be left for interpretation.

On that note we ended with a very tired pony (and rider!). We get to follow it up this weekend with a lesson with our regular dressage trainer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Oh Bentley...

I am currently house sitting so I haven't had a chance to get my video from JW clinic uploaded due to lack of internet. So I'm waiting to do my day 2 post till I get that up!

 
Unfortunately I think Bentley was feeling a little left out and decided to let it be known. He had been doing so good last week that I gave him both Thursday and Friday off (he had worked the previous 6 days in a row). I hoped on him Saturday and decided why not ride in the outdoor in my jump tack? The fact that he had been off for two days and I didn't lunge may have been a good why not but he actually held it together quite well! It was our first real ride in the outdoor and to day we were excited at first would be an understatement! There was some minor head flinging and attempted bucks from the get go so after a brief trot I just pushed him into the canter and let him go for a little bit. It wasn't our best ride but I was happy with how he held it together for the most part especially since I didn't exactly set him up the best for the ride. I even hopped him over his first cross rail! He isn't very aware of where his legs are which is not promising but here's to hoping that gets better 😉
 

When I got back from the clinic on Sunday I pulled him out to ride as we were supposed to have our first lesson together on Monday. His whole inside left front from fetlock to almost his knee was super swollen, hot, and painful to the touch. As I continue to look him over I also noticed his left hind in a similar state along with his right knee. How horse? How?! He got iced, sore no more, wrapped, and put away. The next morning the swelling hadn't gone down at all even after being wrapped for over 12 hours. I decided to play it safe and have the vet out as I needed bute for him anyways. Thankfully the vet thinks it's all superficial. I am icing, wrapping,hand walking, and buting twice a day for 3 days and he gets rechecked on Friday. Got to love horses! It couldn't be worse timing as I am house sitting (with dogs and horses) 45 minutes away from the barn so it will be super long days for me. The things we do for these creatures...
 

Monday, February 6, 2017

JW Clinic: Day 1

Friday I got to take the Pony to a JW clinic so I could learn how to ride this new and improved horse that she sent back to me. In all honesty I felt like I didn't know where all of his buttons were and though he felt like a different horse, in a good way, I didn't feel like I knew quite how I needed to be riding him.

 

She started off asking how it's been and when I told her I needed a "How to ride your horse for dummy's" book on him she laughed and asked what part I felt needed the most help. Besides wanting help on all of it I really wanted to get a feel for the canter I need to expect out of him. He is so compliant and good that I often settle for a lumbery on the forehand canter because he doesn't put up a fight. Because I had already done some trot warm up we went straight to the canter. Basically, the Pony doesn't want to sit on his butt would rather set his neck and fake it because... who wants to work hard? Not him! We worked on getting him deeper in his frame so that he would have to really sit and use his back. In order to achieve this she said I need to think about my legs/seat and my hands need to be working on different projects. Legs and seat keep the canter bouncy with combustion and my hands keep him from setting his neck and locking me out of access to his jaw. 

Once I really got a feel for what his canter needs to be we moved on to some canter half pass. It's pretty wiggly and inconsistent but its in there. I have to think to keep the bend and collection so that it doesn't get flat and long. The hardest part for me is keeping the quality canter as the half pass goes on. We also touched on the very basics of beginning canter puiroettes. To do this she had us do a school horse canter and from there think about using my outside rein to guide him around the turn while not forgetting about the purpose of my inside leg. In all of this work she challenged me to take bigger "risks" with how much as I was asking from him especially in the school horse canter. Because as she reminded me she knows it's in there because she rode it haha!

Then the dreaded changes 😳 My problem now is that Mystic knows the game.  It he doesn't know it like I would like him to. He gets the aids and the end goal so he thinks he knows what he is doing. Unfortunately he doesn't know that he needs to change together, not 1 stride later behind. Basically he has a messed up change! We pestered this quite and he actually got quite sassy about it all even throwing some buck/kicks out there. To me, it all felt like crap but what JW reminded me was that even though the changes were not nice the quality of his canter was getting much better because he was becoming hotter of my leg. Looking back at the video it definitely didn't look as bad as it felt thank god.

Finally, we touched on some trot work. We focused on similar things as we did at the canter. He needs more bounce to his trot and not so much shuffling. We got the best shoulder in ever! He is very good at most of his lateral work but I have a tendency to allow it to be flat and boring. I got his shoulders lifted and bigger steps crossing and it felt quite magical! What a huge different that made. After establishing that trot we took it into half pass. The half pass it self is quite good but my ability to change direction from one half pass to the other is not. We worked on keeping the bounce and collection of the trot throughout the whole half pass and then establishing the opposite shoulder in before asking for the new half pass. Without getting the shoulder in first the new half pass is out of balance and quick. Getting the shoulder in was difficult for us so that is definitely going into the homework category.

So our homework from day is is:
-expect the trot/canter quality all the time
-work on the half pass to shoulder in
-work in being able to put him wherever I want him in the canter (shoulder in, haunches in, bending left, bending right, making it bigger, making it smaller, etc) to help with the change
-walk to canter and canter to walks while maintinging the deeper frame and keeping him pushing into the canter instead of jumping into it

 

Day 2 got fun! But I needed to separate these posts so that I can look back and remember what all went down 😁 I will get video from day 1 and uploaded once I get it on my computer!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Becoming big boys

Today was a big day for the boys. I started off the morning by hauling Bentley over to a friend house to go for his first outing. I have pretty much exclusively ridden him in our indoor arena due to it being dark by the time I finish with work and I don't feel quite ready to tackle the outdoor arena at night. This was a great low key yet "busy" outing for him and for the most part he held himself together quite well. He wasn't the biggest fan of getting into the trailer to start but didn't throw a fit over it just took his time scoping it out. My friend has an outdoor arena that is right next to giant pastures that are currently filled with sheep, has a goofy and fearless barn dog, a cat that likes to jump around the arena fence posts, etc. At first the cat blew Bentley mind. It was quite entertaining! What I love about this horse is that even when he is a little hotter he is very manageable under saddle. He gets tense and anxious but I never feel unsafe on him and as the ride goes on he routinely gets better and better. This was the first ride where he picked up his right lead the first time every time! I also introduced him to multiple trot poles in a row which he figured out quickly. To top it off he loaded right up in the trailer to head home. I love the brain on this boy! My plan is to get him out on as many low key/stress free trips as possible to as many places as possible. Even looking to take him to his first schooling shows in March. I couldn't be happier with the progress he is making!
 

And they best news yet? Pony is home!!! I seriously missed seeing this face every day...
 
I'm looking forward to learning how to ride him better now that he had some of his kinks, caused by me I'm sure, worked out. I was hoping to take a lesson on him today before we headed up but the trainer was teaching a clinic elsewhere this weekend. So I'm just winging it till Friday when we get to go clinic with her. I'm super excited to get some new insight from her now that she has ridden him a decent amount. Depending on how my finances are (ya know, with three horses and all 😳) I may try to send him back for another tune up while I am gone for a week in April for Rolex! Alanna and I are heading to the clinic this weekend together so with any luck I will get some pics and video to share!