Tuesday, December 8, 2015

12/5 Lesson and some big news!

Ok, so I've been taking a ton of lessons lately. Seems all I'm posting about! It's cool though, Trainer is heading south to Aiken in mid-January and I'll be left to my own devices until the end of March... unless GRM comes back during that time. I'm sure I'll have an issue I'd like help with!

So for this lesson, we actually trailered to a fellow blogger's new barn that is one of Trainer's travel-to-teach barns. There's an indoor if the outdoor footing is no good, so under the guise of a guaranteed lesson (the footing at home ended up being not good enough to ride on, so good call) I was able to go see this barn. I had wanted to see it and meet the owners anyway because it's close enough that I wanted to haul in on the weekends to use the indoor since the weather is slowly preventing me from using our outdoor on the weekends.
Penny and Sophie and our front door with the new wreath!
First of all, I loaded Penn into my trailer, on the first attempt, by myself! I know, you're all like, "Why so excited?" It's because when we got Penn, the trailer was a huge ordeal and I've only recently been able to get him on Trainer's slant load by myself (the divider helps convince him to stay on). I've never been able to load him by myself onto my trailer because it's a straight load and Penn wouldn't stay put long enough for me to get to the back of him to put up the butt bar (he also wouldn't tolerate the squish from the swinging divider- he'd fly out the back of the trailer). I was able to load him almost like Mikey. Since my divider swings, I bungee it to the passenger side horse stall when I load. I led Penn up into the trailer from the wrong side, convinced him to stay put without being tied, and he gave me enough time to walk next to him, get the divider un-bungeed and the butt bar up and pinned in place before he moved! The only difference is that Mikey would walk himself into place and I could stay at the back of the trailer. Good boy Penn!

The medium weight ultimate turnout blanket will be going back to SmartPak. There is a pull in the blanket that I'm sure will let water through. I'll wait for another bigger rip to happen though before sending it back.
SmartPak's Ultimate Turnout is apparently not Dix proof!
Penn was a bit nervous at a different barn (a little more nervous that he usually is- I think because he hauled alone). He wasn't quite steady in the cross ties, so I didn't bother cross tying him. No reason to have him panic and break someone else's barn! They didn't tie the cross ties to the wall using baling twine, so I wasn't taking any chances.

Surprisingly though, Penn stood quietly for me to get on him in the outdoor, and went to work. He was a bit distracted, but he still paid attention to me. It's nice to know he relaxes when he's doing his job.

Trainer and I chatted about our lessons with GRM, and then got to work. Again, I'm going to bullet what we did... it's easier for me to keep track of things!

Walk/Trot work:

  • This was his first time really working outside in a new place. He's always been inside when we go practice dressage somewhere, so this was an excellent adventure!
  • Since he was a little looky, I was prone to keeping him too slow in trot and too tight a hold on the reins. Trainer pushed me to keep the forward motion, keep my hand forward, and don't take away from him.
  • STOP CRUSHING THE HORSE WITH THE OUTSIDE REIN. When he's looky/spooky, I need to let him have a way out (in our case, he was looking to the outside at various items around the arena, so I took the inside rein and overbent him in, and let him go out the outside shoulder- thinking leg yield towards the spooky item).
  • I stuck to sit trot because he was a bit looky and I'm better at steadying him from sit trot. Not resorting to sit trot is going to be one of my goals.
  • Trot shoulder fore/shoulder in/small amount of haunches in on the long walls.
  • Relax the hands forward, drop my elbows down, let the forward happen, small amounts of shoulder fore = lifted back magic. I made trainer laugh because I was like "Is he pooping?" and she was like "No..." and I was like "It feels like it... so his back must be up!" and she facepalmed and laughed.
  • We worked a little on leg yield, but Penn was very resistant to continuing to move forward into the leg yield. We settled on the following pattern: 10m circle right, down centerline, leg yield left, any time he resists sideways motion, 10m circle right using the last steps of the circle to encourage sideways into the next leg yield. Let him overbend his neck to the right so he gets good cross over and can flow. He's far enough along now that he's not shooting out the left shoulder and the hind end isn't trailing, so he can be a bit overbent. And for the love of God, LET GO OF YOUR LEFT REIN.
  • Repeat the pattern in the other direction- 10m circle left, down centerline, leg yield right, any time he resists sideways do a 10m circle left using the last steps of the circle to encourage sideways again. Let him overbend his neck to the left so he gets good cross over and can flow.
  • We finished up the trot work with a stretchy trot on a figure 8.

Canter work:

  • (This one goes with the trot work too, however it was where we based the canter work too) Transitions to trot must be through and not giraffe-like. He must connect all 4 ways in walk to start: left seat to left hand, right seat to right hand, left seat to right hand, right seat to left hand. Use shoulder in and shoulder out on a 20m circle so work on all of those connections. Then trot. If it's crap, walk, repeat the connections, trot.
  • Repeat the connections in trot on a 23m circle. Shoulder in, half pass in to a 20m circle, canter.
  • Penn's canter is either 4 beat or rushy, there's no in between right now. He also does not want to meet the left rein while going left (he's happy to meet it going right).
  • (to the right mostly) Carry myself over my outside stirrup more, stop leaning over my inside leg. I'm not helping by doing that.
  • (to the left mostly) Repeat the counter bend in canter, then with the thought of half pass inwards. LET GO OF THE F-ING LEFT REIN. Remarkable, the horse stood himself up and balanced himself. It became: counterbend, bend in, half pass inwards onto a smaller circle, maintain the smaller circle, leg yield out to the 20m circle. Repeat.
  • (to the left only) Since we were thinking half pass on the circle and actually getting decent floaty in on the circle, Trainer had me prep him on that circle, then go straight down a quarterline, and then ask for canter half pass left. Nothing super fabulous happened, and Penn was getting tired, but he tried and took his very first half pass steps!
  • Stretchy trot to finish. Penn just about ran his nose on the ground. He LOVES to stretch out after hard work.

Penn tried his guts out in lesson. His butt felt like jelly while I cooled him out. I haven't had my butt worked like that in a long time- I was still sore Monday! Penn went for a well deserved walk on Sunday.
Walking on the road on the way home Sunday.
I took some pictures on Sunday of Penn for his new coggins. Mikey's pictures for his this year were really super terrible. He was all out of proportion, angular, and the awkward leg and body positioning didn't help the terrible picture. I get that you have to be able to see the inside of the legs too, but come on, can't we stand the horse with even weight on each hoof? Without his ears at half mast and looking around instead of forward?

I didn't realize everyone was moving towards putting pictures on the coggins instead of marking up the model horse, and this is the first year I've been forced to use the Global Vet Link coggins instead of being mailed the yellow carbon copy paper. If I had known that, I would have taken pictures of Mikey myself and sent them to the vet to use! The pictures that were taken of Penn in March 2015 for his current coggins are terrible (though not as bad as Mikey's), and they need to be redone anyway because it's a different vet. Trainer and the Vet Assistant made a list of horses that would need pictures, and I opted to take them myself instead of having them do it.

Right side
Left Side
So I sent those 3 pictures in to the vet. We'll see if they'll do. He's still way under muscled and too angular for my taste. I've had him for 4 months now, I expected to see more of a difference. Don't get me wrong, the horse has still filled out a lot and has a lot of new muscle. He's working hard. BUT HE NEEDS MOAR!

Which I guess is a perfect segue into my big news! As much as the thought of winter boarding elsewhere terrifies me (ie Mikey's fractured hock from last year), I'm going to give it another try. I really liked the barn that we went to for lesson this past weekend. I've got a bunch of friends there already, including fellow blogger Hawk. The owners are super nice, there is an outdoor with incredible footing, a well maintained indoor with good footing, the barn is heated to 45 degrees in the winter, they feed essentially the same feed so I'm not going to be providing my own grain this time (I'll monitor his weight to make sure he doesn't drop weight though), and free choice hay.

With the indoor available, I can keep building muscle all winter! I'd say that's the main thing holding us back from First Level right now (aside from a messy canter, but that's a strength issue too). Yes, we've started to score very well at Training and he's schooling the First Level work nicely. He just doesn't have the musculature to support First Level yet. My biggest worry was that I'd hack him all winter at home and he'd keep the same muscle. While that's fine, it's not doing much to support First Level aside from making sure we don't deteriorate.

Penn moves in for 3 moths starting Jan 1! I think he's going to enjoy a semi-quiet December. I am planning on showing him Jan 3 (and picking up my two other blue ribbons which may or may not be the main reason I want to go), but I'm not going to fret about hacking him and having quiet time. There will be more than enough work that happens between Jan 1 and March 31!


  1. Woooo! Super excited! And where are you showing in January?

    1. I'm so excited too! I think this winter boarding will work out so much better! And we're going back to Chagrin!

  2. oooh i'm super jealous! i'd love to move to an indoor over the winter but for a variety of reasons it's not really realistic... so we end up trailering out whenever we want to even school. boo..

  3. Awesome! He looks amazing in those pictures btw, it's hard to believe you've only had him for a short time!