Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ride Log 1/29

Sorry to create another ride log for this week, but I had some realizations last night that I need to record so I remember them!

Things I learned while riding Friday night:

  • Use my body for something besides half halting. What? Yes, don't forget to turn my shoulders and use that motion to help use my thighs and legs to help Penn turn and change bend. Especially in the shallow loop from T3.
  • "Long" arms for a long neck.
  • Following that point, careful with the inside hand- use and release. Almost think about letting it sit more forward than the outside hand. Doing that let's Penn immediately soften, look for the bit, and lengthen his neck.
  • Do not forget how I rode the trot- ride the canter in a similar fashion but a different rhythm.
Items reinforced by our ride Friday night:
  • Even though Penn is looking and wants to spook (or wants to lean at the canter), DO NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE NECK. Ever. Reinforce the bend with the leg and seat. Leg on to support him but not enough to squirt him forward.
Keeping those things in mind, we had an AWESOME ride Friday night. I wanted to work on the one loop from T3 since I can't seem to get that right at the shows. I started by getting deep into my corners, then trying to make the bend changes work... it didn't really click until I got to trot and remembered to turn my shoulders. Then he was like, "You'd like me to change my bend? Of course! Why didn't you say so?" Doh.

Anytime he would get heavy, some inside leg and give/release on the inside rein would remind him to hold himself up. He felt so sure of himself, I was very pleased!

I did some canter work next with the intention of working it more than the trot. I started from the shallow loop and followed the pattern from the left lead canter. All the good prep from the trot translated to the canter. Keeping all the same ideas from trot in mind... into the corners, keeping the inside leg at the girth (which is further up than I think), not dropping my inside hand, and not pulling back and holding with the inside hand. His canter started off a little runny, but as I worked it, it got better and better. The more he trusted me not to take away from the length of his neck and pull my inside rein, the lighter and quieter and easier he got in the more difficult part of that movement (for him it's continuing after the circle and across the next short side into the diagonal). The final one we did to the left was incredible. All of a sudden he found his big boy pants and became light and very flexible.

I love that when I get things right, he answers right away. But that's the kind of horse he is- he wants to please and do what you want.

We only worked for about a half hour, but I was so pleased with him. No reason to drill before the show! In plan on doing a similar ride today since that seemed to go well.

All smiles for a test well done!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ride Log 1/25 & 1/27

I have no new media of Penn, so you're getting Mikey media.

Monday 1/25

Penn was super weird Monday night. I pulled him out of his stall and put him in cross ties then went back down the aisle to my trunk, pulled out my brush box, helmet, whip, and DSBs. They're the same things I always get out. I walked up to him and he started snorting and backing away from me. I set everything down and let him have a good sniff of everything I brought over, one item at a time. I think it was the boots that set him off? Weird.

Either way, he kept being spooky until I got his boots on his legs. Even after our ride, he was snorty and spooky. There's a little bit of construction going on because BO is moving lockers and building more lockers (a reason I keep my stuff in a trunk). I led him around the other barn aisle so he could have a good look at the stuff over there and that set him off pretty nicely. He did remember some of his training though- something would scare him and he'd go to back up and remember he's not allowed and then he'd take a couple steps forward (to the point I had to stop him from actively touching power tools). I let him say hi to Fiction so he knows that side of the barn isn't all bad, and then put a much more relaxed horse back in cross ties.

Our ride was good. I'd say it was great if his canter work wasn't so sketchy. His trot was INCREDIBLE. I actually got on and rode him, insisting on being uphill, no laying on my hands, and yes, you have to follow proper bend. Instead of really picking at him, I picked at me- make sure my seatbones are saying what I want them to say (he responds immediately to seatbone cues) and make sure my shoulders are up and back and part of the half halts instead of just being there. Really paying attention to what my body was doing instead of actively trying to fix him helped him the most- instead of worrying about trotting and trying to jump into canter as a possible answer to "trot better please", he was able to stay relaxed and so his trot became incredible. Up, through, and big. I don't know if slogging through the snow helped his trot and its steadiness, but there was a marked improvement from my trot work Friday night in the indoor to Monday night in the indoor. In the videos in the snow, he was much more deliberate about where he put his feet (aka no noodle legs). Hopefully what I felt was that carrying through to footing he's super comfortable on, and therefore he got big and bold!

I messed with my new clippers on Monday- which there seems to be a problem with because they were running super slow (and after I got them on him, depending on how I cut the hair they'd speed up and zoom for a while). New batteries didn't help, so I donno. Either way, Penn held his ground and let me trim his nose, goat hair, and bridle path! Every now and then when I'd move around his head, he'd get funny again and I had to remind him to stay put. Still, it was a success because he is trimmed and looking snazzy for this weekend.

Speaking of a snazzy horse, look at this guy!

Wednesday 1/27

Penn was still weird when I put him in cross ties, but less weird than he was Monday. Got him to the arena, hopped on, walked a lap around and he promptly spooked at a front corner and tried to run across the arena. I made him go into the corner and the issue seemed to disappear as long as I kept his mind working.

Which meant I developed a plan on the fly. I only wanted to revisit training level movements this week since we're showing Sunday, but that doesn't make him think. So I spent a while in walk making him round and through and trying to get him to stretch his neck.

Then I added in leg yield right from K to centerline (near X but no goal letter on CL), track left at C, shoulder in down the long wall (towards scary corner), into the corner, across the short wall, F to centerline leg yield left, at C track right, then shoulder in down the long wall, repeat. I haven't worked leg yield in a while, and I'm keeping a lot of that lateral stuff to walk right now so he gets comfortable with it and doesn't worry.

I worked that pattern twice each way, then changed the shoulder in to 10m walk circle, starting haunches in on the last quarter, and haunches in down the wall. Repeat many, many times. The lateral work bending right is a lot easier for him than the work that bends left. Which makes sense because right now he's protesting left leg to right rein when tracking left.

Towards the end, I changed my leg yield to baby half pass. I think of half pass as haunches in on the diagonal, but with some shoulder in positioning so the shoulder leads. Complicated, I know. But the thinking lets me get the idea of half pass across to him without blowing his mind- so he did his baby half passes and got lots of praise. Not to worry, after every movement he was getting lots of praise already.

Off to the trot! I did some circles both ways to get him moving, and then put him back on the previous pattern with leg yield but no lateral movements on the long walls for the first time through each way. He responded well, even if his hind end was lagging behind a little. Then I added in the shoulder in, then changed to haunches in like before. He wasn't as good in trot as he was in walk, but that's ok.

I spent a long time working that exercise. Penn's trot work became nice and strong and he was light in the bridle (yay!). I made sure to pay attention to me, and how I was asking for things, so he responded and was great.

I then did a small amount of canter on a large circle in the middle- enough to enforce I am in charge, Penn must be round, no laying on my hands, and no speeding off. I made sure to keep my seat in the saddle by "pulling" my elbows down and keeping my shoulders engaged in the half halts, and put Penn on a 15-18m circle. I had a couple good canters each way, so we came back to trot, did a stretchy circle, recollected, and walked. He worked very hard!

Oh right leg, You never did learn to stay at the girth.

I'm riding tonight, then tomorrow I'll buy shavings for the trailer, watch some lessons, ride lightly, braid Penn, pack the trailer, and get some sleep, cause Sunday is a horse show! FYI there are 17 riders in my Training 1 class. Seven-f'ing-teen.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fun in the Snow

I have lots of new media!!!!

Husband and I took the trailer back to the barn on Sunday, so he was around while I rode, and he used his fancy schmancy new phone to take pictures and videos and even a few GIFs!

So I decided to get my "Micheal Jung/Ingrid Klimke" on, and work Penn in the snow two days in a row. (For those who don't know, Micheal Jung keeps his training methods quiet and notably doesn't teach, but recent leaks show he practices his dressage in water complexes, and more recently there's video of Ingrid practicing in her purposely flooded outdoor arena-links to Facebook).

Basically, the idea is to have some fun while the snow actively works Penn. I had a lot of on the forehand, connection and bend issues, but I also wasn't pushing him as hard as I could have because I was worried I would adversely effect his balance and we would both eat snow.

Ignore my horrid position. I'm going with I haven't really ridden in two weeks.

Husband also played with GIFs on his phone:

More still shot media:

This would be a great pic if he wasn't so on the forehand!

Then we have the videos!

Trotting left:

Trotting with a change of direction:

Trotting and some canter:

Same video as above, but Husband added some slow-mo frames:

A short ride -I like working in snow and water, but I'm not always sure how good working in snow is for the tendons- and not overly productive, but it was fun!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Storm Activities

I'm just going to bombard everyone with pictures from the last couple days.

I worked from home Friday. Migraine + Snow Storm = Work At Home. My coworkers for the day were great.

Nickels was extra active and perky.
Penny slept in a fish.
Sophie slept next to me on the couch.
She sleeps extra soundly and that means I can mess with her, hehe.

Then I went to the barn at the start of snow storm Jonas. When I left, I debated if that was a smart idea. My Mom went with me. 28 years old, and I'm still dragging my mom to the barn like a little kid.

About an hour into the snow fall, on my way to pick up Mom.

I had a good ride! It's the first time I'd ridden Penn in about two weeks since I've been sick and then it was just too cold to ride. His trot work was excellent, there wasn't too much to nit pick. His canter needs work though- it was particularly bad- not through, tense, not going to the outside rein, rushy. I'm going to have to work it quite a bit before the show next weekend. Hopefully it was just bad since he'd been off for 5 days! I'm sure the below didn't help:

I have no idea how he did this. He's sound and not swollen. It is quite tender though- he didn't like me wiping/dabbing it and then spraying it with Aluspray.

The only thing I can think of is that his blanket hind leg surcingles got tugged on or pulled by another horse and the metal buckle that determines the length of the strap dug into him. The fields are very clean and tidy, I can only assume it was his poor social skills at work.

I'm glad I bought a blue version for horse shows.

Mom and I headed home. The roads weren't too bad, but they weren't great. I dropped Mom off and got back to my house in one piece! Or the same number of pieces we started with, haha.

Waiting at a traffic light.
In front of my house.
I woke up to this face Saturday morning:

Penny Snugglepus!

Husband and I cleared the driveway, but first we took Sophie outside for her first snow walk!

Not a fan.

I say Husband and I... meaning I cleared enough to get my car out and went to the barn while he finished up with the plow!

Fiction and Penn digging for grass. Well they were when I got my phone out. Fiction was like, "Human! Food for me?"

I opted to take Penn for his first snow ride instead of doing real work inside. We still did work, but we did it in the outdoor with the snow. I kept it short because I still insisted he work over his back and I know slogging through the snow is hard work... which was the point- he has to lift his feet and he has to lift his back too- so absolutely no sitting the trot. I let the snow slow his tempo and I focused on keeping our balance because I didn't want him to accidentally biff it and then both of us eat snow. Walk-trot-canter each way. He found an awesome trot to the right- I saw his knees lifting out in front of his shoulders and he had a great feel. He had a hard time supporting the left lead canter and his balance in the snow- however that could have been because it was the last thing I tackled.

A great view!
Walking around the track we wore in the outdoor.
Trying to make him round up so I can get a nice pic of him working.

I ventured out to the grocery store after the barn (I know, you're supposed to go BEFORE the storm. I do things backwards). I decided to get some chocolate chips (in addition to other staples) because Husband really likes chocolate chip cookies, and since he finished my trailer, I figured I'd bake him some cookies.

She begged the whole time. Like a dog.

Husband and I are taking the trailer back to the barn Sunday. I've got a bunch of pictures, but I'm missing some shots of it in the dark. I'll have to get pics of it lite up like a Christmas tree next weekend when we park it in the dark after the next horse show! :-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

18.5" MW Jaguar XKC Monoflap Dressage Saddle

Today's post is a for sale ad... I still have Mikey's dressage saddle and it really needs to go! Please share and pass it around!

2013 18.5" MW Jaguar XKC Monoflap Dressage Saddle - $2500

  • Made in England
  • About a year's worth of use - never used in the rain or taken on trail rides. I didn't use it over the winter when I didn't have an indoor, and Mikey was injured last winter, so summer use only. Never, ever left in the sun!
  • Well taken care of and cleaned regularly.
  • Fits OTTBs and other flat sided, high whithered horses well.
  • Retailed for $4000- Jaguar is no longer making saddles anymore. Harry Daubbs is maintaining all existing Jaguar saddles. I have all the original tags.
  • Very comfortable - I wish it fit Penn!
  • Excellent condition
  • Very soft leather - I made stirrup protectors so the irons wouldn't lay against the flap and create marks or dents. I'd be willing to sell those with it.
I can accept pay pal, buyer pays shipping, and I don't mind doing a trial with full payment. The saddle must be returned in the same condition! I'd be willing to meet if you're close enough to me.

Interested parties can email me at codexdressage at gmail dot com! 

And Mikey's back and shoulder build for your reference:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Buying all the Things I Convince Myself We Need

I was off work yesterday due to the holiday (yay!) but due to a high of a mere 14 degrees (boo!) I ended up not riding. I know for some of you that's still riding weather, but it's warming up this week back to above freezing, and with me still coughing, I felt no need to freeze and ride. Instead, I drove a couple hours away to a tack shop!

I normally buy online from this shop, however, I needed some items more quickly than I was willing to pay to ship ($25 to have a $30 item here in 3 days? umm...), and the standard shipping had my stuff arriving in almost a week and a half (not cool when the place is 2.5 hours away).

What did I need? More blankets of course! Haha. I am a blanket hoarder.

Penn's SmartPak blankets have not been working out well for him in the heated barn overnight. Yes, it's only heated to 45 degrees, but heat dumps directly into his stall, there's no wind, and the barn doesn't radiate cold because it's heated 24/7. My brain says: 45 degrees? Medium weight blanket! But I've tried that, and he ends up sweating by morning. The lightweight isn't much better, only because I'm finding the Ultimate Turnouts not very breathable- I guess that's the trade off you make. They're tough for sure, but the price of tough is that they're not breathable. BO was concerned he might end up with a respiratory infection or coughing (he already is doing that, sigh) with the amount of heat he builds up in the barn and then goes out into the cold- the temperature changes all the time will end up too much for him to handle.

She recommended an Irish Knit Anit-Sweat Sheet that this tack shop sells. It was on sale for $29.99, so I was willing to give it a try. Unfortunately, the only color is white (which will never be clean again of course). (I'm unwilling to let him be without clothes in the barn, he IS shaved after all).

Bright white blanket and a brown horse and background means pictures don't turn out so well, haha.

He'll wear this layer all the time- they'll put his outside clothes on over it for turnout. Even if it doesn't work out, I'm happy with it because I've been having trouble getting him to dry after working him. His blanket clip prevents a lot of the sweat, but he's still sweaty under the saddle and girth. My Rambo Whitney striped fleece is too warm to let him dry properly. It wicks great, but overheats him and he starts sweating again. So now I have a heated barn appropriate way of drying him!

Which means I of course had to buy a second one, because what if it gets wet in turnout, or it is damp from using as a cooler, or I need to wash it? Unfortunately, they only had a single Irish knit in his size, but luckily this fancy blue plaid Cashmelon sheet of similar make and feel was hanging right next to it in the store, and was on sale for $34.99! And I bought their last blue one in his size, haha.

Derpy "Hi Mom!"

I figure I can swap them out to wash, and then have something clean, pretty, and unstained to take with me to horse shows (the sweating is a big problem for me at this winter series I've been going to- the barn isn't heated but there's enough horses in the barn that it heats up pretty well).

"Mom, didn't you hear? They're feeding us right now!"

Of course I didn't drive a couple hours to just stop for five minutes, so I ended up paroozing and picked up a small cheap set of Andis clippers. I have a big body clipping pair from Andis that I love, but they aren't quick and easy in a pinch when I need to clean up whiskers or a bridle path at a horse show (that may or may not have a plug nearby!). So enter this guy:

Tiny clippers with blade guards I'll never use!

It wasn't my favorite pair of tiny clippers (I don't like the camo color)- I actually preferred a Wahl pair instead that was the same price because they came with an extra T blade and a travel bag. The biggest thing that got me was that these Andis clippers came with a 5 year warranty (and a blade guard for when not in use!), where the Wahl's came with a 30 day guarantee. Umm, hello ugly camo clippers!

I'll use them to continue teaching Penn about clipping. I think they're a touch loud, but for $15 I'm not going to complain too much. It's not like I'm going to be shoving them in his ears or anything- this is a whisker/beard/bridle path clean up pair.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Sigh. I didn't think Penn needed anything else... he has everything already! No more buying horsey items for a while!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Back to Work

I am finally feeling better, but I haven't ridden Penn yet. It takes a lot for me not to ride- but not being able to breathe is enough!

I long lined him Friday night... I also had to put him back in his place in the cross ties. I don't tolerate fidgeting and moving and pressure on the ties. I just don't. I find it dangerous and rude and annoying. He had almost a whole week of no rules other than behave walking into and out of the field, so he got a quick reminder that he needed to stand quietly. He then proceeded to look like a sad puppy... because he really is just a big puppy!

Anyway, we long lined Friday and I'm making good progress with the canter. Trainer wanted me to apply strong half halts under saddle when the diagonal pair was on the ground, so I was able to apply that to the lines when I can actually see his legs. Worked super well! I am trying to not do as much for him from the ground, but

Penn decided to have a mind of his own when I stopped him to rearrange the lines, he backed away from me, wrapped the lines around his neck and was just like, "Look! You can't make me." It took me a few minutes to get him safely reset, then he got a couple smacks with the whip to get forward thinking again. I had to remind him a couple times I was in charge, and he finished his work nicely.

Friday night.

I long lined Penn again Saturday, and had a slightly less productive work in reference to bettering the canter, but Friday's work had stuck because he didn't immediately zoom off on his own when I asked for it. He picked up a quiet, but still leaning in, canter each way. I only lasted for one or two canters each way before I had to stop- I never used to get dizzy lunging, but it's a fairly new thing for me and my illness made it worse.

Both days I worked more on Penn's pi/pa basics. I've scrapped the hind end for now (more towards pi training, and to be honest, I'm fascinated by passage not piaffe) just because I don't think he needs to learn to sit and plant himself at all just yet. Seems like a can of worms I'm not ready to have opened! He knows to pick up his hind feet if I tap a hind leg, and for now that's good enough. He's super tuned into a tap or two on the front of the front leg's cannon bone though. I sometimes match each tap with a cluck to help him understand I want his feet to move.

He's so responsive to the leg tapping, that I wasn't sure where to go with it other than to put it into motion in the walk while the indoor and wall are available to me. I don't have a bamboo pole or anything, so I've taken to using the handle end of my dressage whip- no lash and it's a good solid rubber handle. He found it a bit confusing to hold his walk on his own while my attention is elsewhere, but figured out quickly that's what I wanted.

So as I watched Alfredo's videos, the pole he uses to encourage passage almost acts like something the horse needs to step over- letting the horse move the leg into the pole, and forward with the horse, and near knee height, he's always encouraging a big step.

Taking that thinking into plan, I found if I get Penn's walk going, then hold the handle of my whip at low cannon/fetlock height and let it bounce against his legs as he walks, he actively takes bigger and slower steps. I match each step with a cluck, and have him continue until he's taken about 6 big steps in total.

He caught on almost immediately- prompt big steps, then he got tons of praise. I only ask for the steps once per long side of the arena, and I don't drill it for more than two or three long sides because he's young, it isn't a huge part of his training, and I don't want to overstimulate him or blow his mind.

I guess I'd like to eventually have someone drive behind him and be in control of where he goes and his speed and gait, and I can encourage the bigger steps. The whole goal of this isn't to create a good passage or one with a rider, just an idea in his head that I can hopefully tap into for a loftier trot while riding so his first level trot work is a step above most everyone else's and not as far behind the imported fancy warmbloods we that we'll be competing against. This subject gets a lot of attention in this post, but in reality I spend about 5 to 10 minutes tops working on it, and usually at the end of long lining since we're already on the ground working in hand (so not much more than 15-30 min per week).

While I spent the entire day Saturday at the barn (working with Penn and then just chatting with BO), Husband was hard at work on my trailer all day Saturday!

Hitch light!
Light down the side of the trailer (both sides) for night packing and backing up.

Backstory: before we bought the trailer, the tack room door experienced a few too many slam opens. Every time it was allowed to bang open, the screws would pull out of the wood a little bit and then eventually the door became sticky to open and close.

On Friday, the door gave up and fell off its hinges. Husband was able to use the lock on the door to help hold it in place for the night so he could fix it Saturday. I got an alarming photo of my tack room door on Saturday while I was at the barn- it was in pieces of rotting wood on the garage floor. By the time I got home, Husband had created a new oak wood frame that goes around the foam and under the plastic skin. It's a new solid surface for the aluminum framing to be screwed to, and it means the door opens and closes properly!

New frame, old rotten frame, the rest of the door in the background.
Back where it belongs! Shut evenly and firmly and attached to the trailer!
It hangs straight and even now!

I had Hawk from No Longer Fiction ride Penn on Sunday for me. I'm still not feeling up to riding, but I think Penn had enough long lining for a few days (I sure did!). She's a wonderful sensitive quiet rider, which is exactly what Penn needs since he is very sensitive to what his rider does (as she found out!). She did a lovely job putting him through his paces and figuring him out. It was nice to see someone else ride him. Thank you Hawk!

BO also gave me a window decal of a dressage horse for my trailer- family sent her a whole stack of them and she was like, would you want one? I was like YESSSSSS.

So obviously we stuck it to the trailer Sunday afternoon after I got home. It's a bit hard to see- I guess I never realized how tinted the trailer windows are... it's kind of hard to see the decal without it being back-lite or something.

Husband peeking into the trailer as we were trying to decide if the decal was straight or not.
It's hard to see from the outside- the window tint and then reflection takes a lot out of the skinny white lines.
The truck is next on the list of things to be updated, and hopefully the trailer is back to the barn sometime this week- Husband needs it here to make sure all the hookups and cameras work after he installs the new radio thingy. However, we need our driveway back!