2013 Memories

2013 Memories

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!