Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Non-Mikey Updates and New OTTB, Shea!

Life has been quiet since I got back from OSU. Mikey is getting his own post next since he's been sitting in a stall doing nothing.

I did want to share this cute pic of Penny. I took it back in February, but forgot to share it.

Cute adorableness. When my husband and I replaced our windows, we made sure to get the extra wide windowsills so the cats have a place to sit.
The one exciting thing that happened after our OSU visit, our Rolex tickets came!

So many tickets! I collected for 18 of us and ordered them all together to make sure we could all sit together. We have grounds admission for all 4 days, and seating for both dressage days and show jump day.
And I got to work remotely last Thursday with this adorable face who didn't want me to keep working.

"No more working. It's snuggle time!"

I went to the barn Saturday, but didn't have a lesson on Cody. My trainer is taking him this week to an event, so rightly, she rode him. I took my trainer's new young horse, Shea, out for a spin instead. She's a 7 yr old OTTB who hasn't done much since she stopped racing, but she's a nice mare. Going to be a superstar for sure- reminds me a lot of the 2* horse my trainer sold a couple years ago. My trainer said I'd probably like her as she's similar to Mikey. Her old rider kept her "in frame" through sheer force and held her there, so my trainer has been working in the walk and trot only, aiming for soft and through, and trying to get her off the inside leg because she likes to lean on it.

I had to work around my trainer's lesson people, which is fine, but I was having trouble getting Shea round or off my inside leg. I ended up doing a lot of sitting trot. I don't like doing that on young horses just learning to work over their backs, I don't think it's quite fair. But when she was running through me, head in the air, trotting off like a mad woman, I sat the trot and used my seat to force her to keep a slower pace. Posting the trot was just not effective enough. My trainer said no worries about it, she does the same thing when she sits on her. As soon as the little mare softened I'd post, and sit again when she inverted. Once I figured her out, she was fairly easy to get round and stop her leaning on the inside leg. Cody refreshed the importance of riding outside hip to outside hand, supporting with the inside leg. I used that theory on Shea, and every time she'd come through and soften, if only for a stride or two. We also had a little practice just standing in the middle of the arena watching the lesson finish up. She doesn't like to just stand, so we stood!

I came out Sunday morning to ride her before my trainer's Sunday jump school because I wasn't happy with how the ride went Saturday, and I wanted to try again. I had a much better ride to the left, but it all went to hell when I tracked right. I was sharing the arena with a lesson again, and I was tracking the opposite direction. When it came time to pass the lesson horse, Shea freaked out, tried to spin and bolt, and almost scooted out from under me because I blocked her from turning, so she flung herself across the arena instead. I thought she was going to dump me, but thank goodness for long dressage legs around a thin TB barrel! I spent the next 15 min working the opposite direction, forcing her to simply walk round without freaking out. Every time I took her off the track to let the lesson pass, she lost her marbles. I put her back to work after she was freaking out less, and had a spectacular trot to the right, for 3 laps around the arena! Lots of good girl, patting, and posting trot.

A lot of her freaking out could be predicted by how the other horse was traveling- in front of the girth, and Shea wanted to stop and spin. Behind the girth, she wanted to bolt. My trainer hasn't ridden her with other horses in the arena since she usually rides her training horses in the morning before anyone gets to the barn, and said it's very good to know that Shea can't handle it right now. She was going to possibly take Shea in two weekends to a dressage show as a simple outing to see how she does- and she still might take her and if they scratch, they scratch. It seems Shea doesn't understand that herd rules don't apply in the ring! So she's going to be my riding buddy this week, and I'll make sure we ride with a friend!

My trainer is going away this week, as I said. Since she's going away, I'm going to help with barn work Saturday and Sunday, and teach both days. She takes a cut of the lesson money since they're her students, but that way we both make some money while she's gone, and her students get supervised rides in at a discount price. I'm basically doing the barn work for her for free because she's spending quite a bit of time with Mikey making sure he's taken care of properly. I'm glad we're both on the same page when it comes to his care... that she walks him herself, and wraps him herself instead of letting her part time working students do it. I have a good history with the one who I would trust to walk him, hack him, just not wrap him, she doesn't have a lot of experience with it. The other I have a shaky history with and have known for over 10 years. I wouldn't trust her to lead my horse out of his stall. When I got him and he was out running in the field, she said "I hope he falls and breaks a leg." I've heard other unsavory things from and about her, straight up lying to my face about things, and I don't care for the way she rides- aggressive all the time, walking and trotting the horse off his feet, no quiet riding. I chatted with my trainer about her and my trainer isn't thrilled with her (she's been working there for a couple months), and isn't letting the student work with the horses anymore, or work at all unless she needs the barn help. I'm not sure where that's at, but she's not handling Mikey, so I don't really care.

But anyway, so I'm teaching this weekend. And in the spirit of the lovely lady whose insane pole pattern videos are going around Facebook, I've come up with a pole pattern from hell for some of the lessons I'll be teaching (it'll be hell to them):

My trainer's students seem to think I'm tougher than our trainer when I teach. I don't see it! Ha!
When I answer to our trainer at the end of the day, we don't mess around!

Set at the 4'6" between trot poles (and middle to middle of the curved ones), allowing for 2-3 steps between the straight poles and curved, to be determined by the number of poles I have at my disposal and how they actually fit in our indoor (I may add a 5th pole to the straight set if I have the poles to do it and the room). I have this mostly in mind for a 17.3 horse who has trouble with his foot placement, hence the max pole distance.

I can think of a bunch of different ways to tweak this if I had enough poles and arena length to work with. I'd rather have a pole every step through the change in direction and through every 'circle' but space and pole numbers limit me. I'd like a serpentine, where each change has one of these to guide you through, or maybe a shallow loop or two down centerline, like straight, bend right for a shallow loop, go almost diagonal across centerline to bend left for a shallow loop, and then finish by ending up straight on centerline at the other end.

The goal is to keep the horse connected, and even between the aids. Trotting 20m 'circles' and 'figure 8s', keeping to the middle, no weaving or wobbling. And if that gets easy, trot the curved line of poles through the middle, canter the bigger circle, trot and keep your shit together before the poles, work through them and change direction, repeat. There's a handful of students whose horses get away from them and cut the turns and don't stay even, and most need help getting their horses into their corners on the short sides, so I figured it would ride like a 'figure square'. The poles in the middle force the rider to ride into the 'corners' in the middle, and then they can keep that same feeling across the short sides at the end of the arena. I'd like to try it myself on a horse educated enough to deal with it. But alas, I've only got a string of young horses available to me to ride this weekend, and maaaaybe one could mentally handle this (the 4 yr old I rode at one point in February), but the rest are working on being through in w/t/c, so this is entirely inappropriate for them.

Mwahaha! Students beware!

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