Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Stress and Things and a Lesson

Modeling his SmartPak clothes... He was featured on their Instagram!

Unfortunately, I spent the last week super sick, and I am super busy with life things (ok, horse things) and the blog is going to suffer for it. Especially since work blocked Blogger (and Centerline Scores by the way, they've labeled it "gambling." Ha. Ha ha ha.), so that means I can't write things at lunch... And I'm not writing on my phone, so you're stuck with what I can write in the rare evening at home, the weekend, or on a Wednesday (when I work from home).

Side note, that's also why I've been a bad reader/commenter. I used to catch up on blogs while I ate breakfast at my desk. I can't do that when they won't load :(

We went for a two hour trail ride a few weeks ago before Mother Nature decided to dump rain on us day after day!

Penn's hoof is healing nicely- he became sound again quickly and has *knock on wood* stayed sound. I started him on SmartHoof Ultra to help the cut and bruise grow out as quickly as possible. I'll keep him on that for 4 or 5 months, then drop it. He has good feet, and doesn't really need a biotin supplement, but I want that to grow down as fast as possible, preferably without an abscess or other weakness. I also ordered bell boots for him and I hate them. Not these in particular, but just bell boots in general. He's developing a scum on his ankles from the amount of wet we're having, and they just hold mud. It was very noticeable after I wasn't able to be at the barn for a week- I take the bell boots off every day and wash them and clean his ankles, and that wasn't done for a week.

These do fit kind of strangely, but they have held up to a very naughty and roughhousing horse at the farm, so I picked them for Penn too.

Penn continues to be great. We have good and bad days, but I'm really excited about the direction he's going. He also has recently taken to pointing out when I'm being a shitty rider. Thanks bud. I guess he's done that before, but now there's some discussion if he thinks I've been unfair.

I decided to really work the canter the other day... I had somehow neglected it like an unwanted step child, and it had become a raging shitstorm of flailing and ugly. I decided to be super picky about the transitions to canter, with GP Trainer's thought of "he's not strong enough to make good canter out of bad canter," so if the transition is crap, the canter itself is going to be crap, and we're going to waste energy. Ensuring the transition itself was good worked really well to develop a nice canter.

I started picking at the bend on the 20m circle to the left since Penn wanted to bulge his ribcage in... so I booted him extremely hard with my inside spur. He promptly did a flying change and bucked HARD. Sorry dude, my bad. Good boy for the change to the outside lead on a 20m circle coming back to the wall. Super job. I LOVE that he offered that. Rider error! I got him back together for the canter, then made sure I was in my "rider doing a lunge" position (it keeps my inside seatbone on and I can't shove the haunches in with my outside seatbone), and then asked him to move his inside hind leg forward more, and I magically had sit and bend.

He's getting so foamy these days!

I had a lesson with Megan while she was briefly in town Sunday! Sorry Megan, this recap is no where near as detailed as the last one because being sick/coughing was occupying a lot of my brain and you have so much information to share and well... you'll get to teach me this one again! :-D Can't wait for my SoloShot3 to get here so I can record the audio.
  • First thing Megan did was straighten me out in the saddle by having me sit more to the left (both directions).
  • I'm not crazy, he's better in the walk, and MUCH BETTER in the trot! The connection is much better, and he's getting more suspension in the trot.
  • The canter, while still really not good, is actually much better. It's just awful in a totally different way now, lol. Victory?
  • The rein back is still small, but it's more constructive and is setting him back on his haunches and lightening his front end like it should.
  • The new pressure in my hand is acceptable- we'll always be evaluating if it's leaning, but Megan confirmed that most of the time, the weight I have in my hand is an acceptable contact of him reaching for the bit. He's still seeking a little support, but is spending much more time on his own. She said to look at the overall picture- is he up, forward, and seems like he's reaching? Then the pressure is probably OK and part of an elastic connection.
We got a lot of rain the morning of my lesson. The driveway does have a drain... it was inadequate though.
  • Start asking for shoulder fore on the circle in trot. Keep asking until he can't hold it- that's his balance point where he'll cross his legs or flail or fall out or shift his haunches in or get super flat. Work to stay in the bouncy trot while maintaining as much shoulder fore as I can (it's not much tracking right, it's almost SI tracking left).
  • This is also where she pointed out that he's very free with the use of his body. Meaning, he thinks I'll save him (or I guess not punish him?), so he's willing to try to figure out what I want by hopping or lifting or throwing himself around a little. It's not a bad thing- he's trying hard!
  • If the trot suddenly becomes easy to sit, I've lost the suspension and the trot is crap.
  • Be mindful of the walk- when he tries to collect in the walk, he ends up a bit lateral. His good "collected" walk is somewhere between a medium and collected walk right now. Be sure to follow his neck oscillations with my hand to help encourage the swing and relaxation.
  • Ask for shoulder fore in the canter too. Be mindful of the angle and time spent in shoulder fore since he gets tired quickly and the work is really difficult for him. This exercise will help him on his extra shitty days. I described days where he was a dream to canter and it was great (like three times in the last month or so), and then the rest of the days are like he's never cantered before. She suspects that he is wide behind on the bad days as he gathers tension or gets tired. He widens his base instead of sitting, and then it's super hard to rock him back and sit. I have to keep the hindquarters close behind, which the shoulder fore will help with. I had kind of applied a lateral thought to the canter (haunches in), but Megan pointed out that doing that will eventually come back to bite me in the ass when we work on pirouettes. The inside hind will be in the way of the rest of the body and create a larger pirouette.
  • Overall, keep in mind neck length. He needs to keep stretching towards the bit, especially when I try to apply half steps to the trot. Eventually he'll have to step from piaffe to passage, which to step up and out properly, he has to be reaching out to the bit. I can't be crushing him into it

We had a waterfall off the wall. The water at its deepest was about 6" deep.

The other part of my extremely stressful existence is filling the clinic with GP Trainer when she's here Dec 2-3. Only about half the riders from last time are coming back (for various reasons), so I'm trying to fill 10 spots with outside riders... and the local dressage barn won't come or send riders, period. Even though we go to their clinics... So basically, I am freaking out trying to fill the clinic because cancelling isn't an option, and neither are $200 lessons. Slowly though, things are filling... As of this writing, there are 5 spots left. If you're within a driveable distance to my barn in Western PA and are interested in a lesson, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE send me an email at codexdressage at I can't put you up myself (GP Trainer has my guestroom), but we can probably put up your horse!

I am about to start a 2 week vacation though (counting down the days!). I am very excited about that. I feel very burnt out (work and horses), and I think part of me getting sick last week was burn out and stress from the clinic.

Let's finish with a fun video of Penn running away from me while I was trying to catch him (long story):