Thursday, April 29, 2010

Funky to Fearless

Yesterday Olly and I went for a 5 mile hack to the boat launch. It was a bit chilly out, but I can't resist riding my BigRedHorse.I decided to put my dressage saddle on and loose-ring french link since we wouldn't be jumping and my dressage saddle is insanely comfortable. Olly was suprisingly calm. I think he knows the difference between bits.

My spankin' stick, just in case

Aren't the clouds pretty?

On the way back from our ride, we rode in an empty corn field that has wind blown rye growing in it. He somehow worked his lip to grab a few bits...those things are like thumbs! As we cross the road to our Lane, he starts hacking and coughing. FREAK OUT!!! I jumped out of the saddle in the middle of the road and walked him across, while he was still hacking! First thought--my horse is choking! I ripped off his bridle and stood there. What the heck do you do with a choking horse?? The Heimlik?? The only thing I could do is stand there while tears streamed down my cheecks. I can't even explain how helpless I felt. After a few more hacks and nothing coming out (horses can't regergatate), he perked up and stood there looking at me like, "what's the hold up, mom?" I gave him a big hug and walked he rest of the way home (about 1/2 mi) on foot with his bridle in my hand and just the reins around his neck.

 FYI--absolutely NO EATING with a bit!!! I tell you, this horse is like one of my children. I think I cry more with him, than I do with my REAL kids! At least with my kids I can ask what's wrong.

Today our ride was smoother. I left the jumps where  they were and made up patterns, no measuring strides or angles. We would have to adjust on the fly. I could feel that he was wanting to go. The power was in my hands. Sometimes it is like he wouldn't stop even if he had barbed wire in his mouth. Instead of pulling, I decided to just talk to him and see how it goes, it half worked. I wasn't so worried about the speed as I was the collection. It is hard for him to be collected going 50mph over a 2'6" vertical. Then he starts chipping and taking long spots and knocking down rails. We did a few circles to regain composure. I think he can tell when he has the elevator on we aren't doing calm collected circles. He knows we are jumping and he likes it. He likes the speed that he can get away with. Once he started focusing on whatever I put him to, we went back at the funky-strided course that has been sitting in the "arena" for awhile. He nailed the first few jumps and as we continued to the next few he started gaining speed. I let me flatten out a bit because the next jump was a mock water jump. A tarp with ground poles. Then we had a good turn to the left and up comes the mini coop. He did a good job focusing on me, he had no clue what jump was coming next. I think he realized that he had to get his crap together and that was why I was changing my seat and legs. He collected himself and nailed that jump too.  He was listening and focusing! YEAH!! We did the course twice with a walk lap in between and then went out to our little 1/4mi trail (the one with the snake filled creek). He is usually cautious down the hill coming up to the creek, the one side is washed away and I think it just looks scary. Today....I made him trot it and take the creek without thinking first. By the time he was on it he was moving too fast down the hill to stop. He HAD to go over. And he did. It wasn't graceful by any means...but he didn't stutter and did what I asked. Good Boy! I pushed him to continue up the 3 or  4 hills at a hand gallop. At first he was feeling me out. Is she serious? I can Then I felt the power. I wish I would have had my GPS on, I would have like to see how fast we were going. At the end of the trail there is a HUGE hill.

Ok, so the pic doesn't make it look huge...but it is!

He slowed to a trot and went down. What happened to my insecure BigRedHorse? I now have this fearless and bold BigRedHorse. No complaints here! At the bottom of the hill we walked for a minute to recover and send some texts (lol) and then walked back up. At the top he was asking to run again. Okey-dokey! I let him go. He did slow to a nice canter to take the creek (which is no longer snake filled) and continued to canter up the no longer scary hill. Back at the lane I decided to call it a day. He had conqured alot today.
I am going to try to find time to go to a local show here in the next month or two and then it is on to the horse trials in the area.
Oh and one more thing...These are a pair of breeches that I got from a lady on e-Bay. They are the best! The full seat is deer skin and I even got a star embroidered on the butt...they are now apart of my sassy collection ;)
Don't mind my busted-up fingers!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Dressage Kind of Day

I have been talking to alot of my horsey friends lately and the same thing is being said. If you wanna do good in your xc and show jumping rounds, your dressage better be good. Now, I know this. But jumping is SO much more fun than dressage. Sorry, dressage fans. I like the thought of dressage, how it  makes you and your horse balanced and collected and focused and much, much more...I want to do dressage, but the work and patience that is involved, it's tremendous. Anyone who knows me knows that my patience isn't my strong point. I have to constantly re-focus myself and move on. Not to mention Olly. He is well put together and would do great at dressage, if he would focus. Sounds like we are made for each other. Lately we have been jumping or hacking out on trails.
Today, I grabbed my dressage saddle and the french link loose ring and headed out. Olly saw me and ran straight to his stall (it has been three days since we have ridden). I snatched my dressage whip just in case and we were down the road. The wind was gusty today so things were popping up in the Pony Vision like crazy. First thing visible to the BigRedHorse...

See the little silver pie tins??

Our neighbor planted a good size garden and decided that pie tins would keep the birds out of the planted seeds, well it also keeps out BigRedHorses. You would have thought that those things were bull dozers aimed right at him. He never bolted, which is his usual choice of freak-out, but he did freeze and snort at them. I gave him a minute to get over it. When I asked him to walk by the garden he had to make sure he was looking at the tins until he was FOR SURE they weren't going to eat him. That meant side passing like a trail pro! Now why can't the lateral sids be that great when I need them to be?
In our "arena" we started out but walking on the bit nd building impulsion. Olly is either hyped and ready to go or calm and mopey. I was certain that he was going to be all TB on me after the pie tin incident. To my surprise he was very slow and needed the dressage whip to be carried instead of it just hanging out in my half-chaps. I SOOOO wanted to carry the whip in my right hand. BUT Olly has issues going to the right. I think he is left handed like me. When circling to the left he is bent and fluid and collected (for our level BN). Going to the right he is more off balance and choppy. It takes like 10-15 minutes just to get him settled. He eventually gets it, but the transition is horrible. So I carried the whip on the left to assist the right. The only problem: my ring finger is pretty much useless. As you know I fell at the clinic last Tuesday. Although it is better and I can get my rings on and off, it hurts like hell and any kind of *twinkle-twinkle* on the reins kills me. My first knuckle (near my nail bed) is still inflammed and looks like I have massive arthritis, which I porbably will after the whole thing is healed. Rationalization: Why would I stop riding for one finger? I mean, I rode while I was a finger will stop me.
I started the whole session going to the left, since that is the better direction. Shorten the stride on the short end of the "arena" and legthen the stride on the long end. After two tries he flowed beautifully. I felt like I was on an upper level horse. lol!!! He was even tempo-ed and he kept his collection for the most part. When I felt him slipping all I had to do was sit deep, squeeze and twinkle the inside rein (against all pain) and he brought himself back in. It is hard for him to hold his collection for very long. I think he could do it for a whole test, but we may have to practice a bit more. I constantly have to remind him where to be and that is ok. We reversed direction and tried it all to the right. Since we weren't doing many circles and were just going on the large, he was able to make the bends in the corners of that "arena" just fine. Then came the circles. Circles are suppose to help with the collection and bend, and to the left it did. To the right....awkward, unbalanced and tossing his head. Now we aren't doing like any volte 6 and 10 meter circles....we are doing like 20 and 30 meter circles. The first thing that went through my mind was maybe he is off to the right because he has a foot or leg issue...but after a few minutes of re-focusing he fell in and did so much better. It still wasn't as great as to the left, but it was do-able. We focused on speed and tempo, impulsion and bend. In the end I thought he did great. We even did some canter-trot transitions. He is better at trot-canter than he is canter-trot. Out of all the days NOT to take my camera!!! He cantered so perfectly and was in control. One more reason to chalk up to my riding. Funny how if you fix alot of the rider's problems the horse becomes "fixed" too. I feel guilty that for the past year I have been making my horse not improve like he should.
I let him walk on a loose rein all the way home...even past the pie tins, which was a brave move on my part. He did keep his eye on them but never spooked. As we round the corner to the drive I look up and see this...

What is wrong with this picture??

So many things are wrong with this picture, but the most important is the Chincoteague lawn ornament... WHICH, I did not leave there when I left.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


So Lucinda commented on Olly's focusing. If I can keep myself focused, he will be better off. Today we set out to try all the new techniques we learned on Tues and Wed. Olly was wired. I also had a dressage whip with me. Lucinda suggested that I carry one. I think if I just hold it, it does its job. Here is the video of todays riding. My finger still is a bit ouch-y so I will let the video do the talking until I can get to typing better, you wouldn't believe how long it took me to type the Lucinda blog lol!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lucinda Green Clinic

I got up Tues. morning at 0530. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Win Green, where the clinic was being held. I rode at 1000. By the time I got going and was ready to load Olly it was 0600. I got his shipping boots on and headed up to the trailer. See our drive is so steep I can't load him and drive out. I have to park at the lane and then load. We walked up the drive, it was already getting light out. As we got closer to the trailer I could feel him bulk. I thought it may be because it was still a bit dark out. To my surprise he completely REFUSED to get in the trailer! WTF??!! I mean he wouldn't even approach the trailer. A few weeks ago we went to a local show and he walked right in...I was totally taken off guard. After a 1/2 an hour of trying I was so frustrated I was crying and begging. What a great horseman, right? lol Husband heard (our windows are open from the nice weather) and came out to help. As soon as he walked up Olly jumped right in. What an ass! He knew I couldn't make him get in the trailer. Once he was in it he kicked a few times, just to let me know that he didn't approve of the tag team and then was fine. Mama will always way or another.
I typed the address into the GPS and came to realize that it didn't have the proper portion of the state downloaded to find the place. Great! Luckily, mama plans ahead, I printed out mapquest directions too. I almost felt insecure. I use the GPS for EVERYTHING, now that I didn't have it I felt like something was missing and worried that I would even find the place. It is funny how we depend on all this technology that we didn't have years ago and now we can't seem to live without it. I sucked it up and headed out. I have driven way further to places and not even had my mapquest. Own it mama!!
Driving in Va is a bit different than any place I have driven a trailer before. I mean, the hills are insane. The speed limit is 60mph and the turns are almost 90* angles and then the hills! Sheesh! No wonder the BigRedHorse didn't want to get into the trailer....As we were driving, I could hear the engine pulling the 1100# BigRedHorse up and down the hills and I could almost see the needle on the gas gauge drop.
We saw the craziest road names, Canoe House Rd, Muddy Gut Ln, and even a town called Wilderness! Where do you live? On Muddy Gut Ln in the Wilderness. I tell ya, it is good entertainment out here.
I am happy to say I did not get lost and made it there with ample time.

A little privacy pleeeeease!
Walking around ther was like being at the Rolex for me. I have never been on a xc (cross country) course. I think I looked like a ra-tard with this huge smile across my face.
I went and got Olly ready. I figured after not riding him for almost a week(my mom was visiting) he would need the stupid worked out of him. Amazingly he was alert, but not crazy. I think he was more interested in checking out all the new things than freaking out.

Those are my sassy pants
We warmed up over a few LOW jumps and then Lucinda took over. She started out by asking us about our horse. She really liked Olly. After riding for an hour she said that he needed to focus more. He needed the Eye of the Tiger. Hey, we could have our own theme song!! I found out two main reasons that Olly and I have been having all of this trouble going over jumps and they were both ME! I am sure it is no big suprise to hear. I am actually relieved.First I ride too far forward, which I knew.

Tipping forward and Olly refusing
I have actually fallen off from that before. I try to sit back, but the way I was taught was to ride in 2 point when jumping. although this may be goo advice in a hunter class, for xc it is a no-no. And it seems to be a no-no for Olly. He did "refuse" a few times while we were out there. I backed him a few strides and tried again and he always went over. He never ran out, which is great. The second issue was that I had a hard time keeping him focused. If I lost concentration at anytime, he fell apart. He was incapable of carrying himself for any period of time.

Doesn't he look totally focused?? LMAO
Which, again, was not a total surprise. The awesome part is that she taught me exactly how to fix these problems. By yelling at me to sit back on every stride, I finally got the picture lol and by tuning my mind on Olly and not on jumping ahead of my BigRedHorse, things started to come together.
We practiced with low jumps (about 2ft) and began weaving and zig-zagging in and out of skinny's.


Owning the log, still too forward!

Star-my fav!!!
I was suprised to hear Lucinda comment on gymnastic lines. She said that by running your horse through the grids you are predetermining the distance and the horse doesn't have to think about where to put his feet. TRUE. By incorperating odd distances your horse learns to adjust himself. In turn he becomes more attuned to you and where you want him to go. It makes him sharper. Soooooo all along, once again, I have been doing the not-so-right thing for us. Good to know. I think under some circumstances grids are good to do, but how can you disagree with Lucinda Green?? I will continue to do some grids, but the will be no where near what I have been doing. In two hours Olly had become more attentive in what I was asking and not wandering as long as I kept him focusing.

Eryn on the right, me and Jessica on the left. Nic was on a grey not in the pic.
On of the most helpful terms she used that made my mind click, and sometimes that is hard with my blonde mind, was the "tube." Let me explain. your horse is a tube. You should have no air between your calves. I have alot, olly is a bit sensitive. you should squeeze the "tube" when apporaching the jump to encourage forward motion. At one point she told me to squeeze his eyeballs out! lol. By keeping contact with the "tube" you are keeping your horse aimed whee you are wanting to go. Like their eyes are attached to your knees. Guide them with your legs. Now, some of you may be like DUH! But this was explained to me so much better. I mean I use my legs ALL the time, but not in this way. How do you teach the new way of riding with your legs? Without rein contact.
The last exercise of the first day we were asked to ride with a loose rein. I mean she wanted our hands to be wide and sloppy. I am thinking: Ummmmmm? Huh?? OK, Lucinda. I mean you do not question her, she is the best, right? I did. Ummmm, Miss Lucinda? Ummmmm....Why?  Her answer was simple...

YES that is Lucinda Green standing next to ME!!!!
If you don't have reins to support your seat, it will have to support itself. Fair enough. Ragdoll style it is. i widened my hands and let the reins 3/4 of the way to the buckle. She said, 'now jump this, this, this, this, this and this.' I have never been one to say no when it comes to new things while riding. I would try a 5ft jump if anyone said yeah, sure, you can do it. I was second in line. Here goes...
I was as sloppy and floppy as I could be...after the fifth jump I had let my reins slack so much that I had absolutely NO contact with his mouth and when he zigged, I zagged. Off I went. Now one would think that it would be totally embarrassing to fall off in front of Lucinda Green. I actually wasn't. I mean, if I hadn't fallen off then I would have probably done it at home and not known how to fix it. She did laugh at me and said, I told you to have a loose rein, not throw your horse away. Fair enough. i look up and Olly was standing 15 feet to my right looking at me like "sorry mom...again." I got up brushed myself off and got back on. I didn't get hurt really other than my finger was a bit sore. After everyone went, she asked if anyone would like to try again. Ummmmm YEAH! I would like to do it right at least. the second time around I had just the right amount of contact with his mouth and we cleared the 6 fence round awesomely. Again, it was my fault. I was begining to see a trend....
After untacking I ran back to see the other classes. there was a novice class and a beginnner novice class before the Prelim. I figured i would watch the novice class and take Olly to the stable (which was 9 miles down the road) during the other beginner novice class and make it back beofre the prelim class began. I learned alot from the novice class. The biggest thing I learned was that no matter the level, everyone was making mistakes. I thought that the higher the level the less mistakes. All the levels used the same jumps we did, but they were just a tidge higher. Same patterns, mostly. The prelim group did way more.
It was all about your position on the horse and focus, just at different difficulties. The more I watched the more I knew that Olly and I could do this...we would do this.
Time to go. I went back to the trailer and attempted to get Olly in the trailer. Great, a replay from this morning. It took 45 minutes to get him in the trailer AND I had help. I was two steps from having a nervouse breakdown. WTF?!? You can get on a freaking airplane and fly 2500 miles and then caravan for another 2300ish miles and you won't get in for a 9 mile ride? Give me a break!!! Anyway...I got him to his horsey hotel. Paradocs Farms was his stall for the night. Nice stable with an awesome indoor. And Joan the BO/Vet was amazing! I wish I lived closer. I have a feeling I could have learned buckets from her. This amazing barn and beautiful house and I pull up in my crappy rusted(but safe) trailer and felt totally welcomed. Not once did I feel like I was being judged, as I have felt at some hunter shows. This is what Olly and I were meant to do.
I ran back to watch the prelim class. this one horse rode by Jennifer, was a intermediate, I think. He hardly stood still and chewed his bit like it was crack! Gorous horse.


I only stayed for 1/2 the class seeing it was like 48* and all I had on was a teeny t-shirt and hoodie. I think I may have gotten frostbite. lol.  I headed out to my hotel. That is right guys, I stayed the night in a messes...I almost felt lost. I did however, tried to enjoy it and I did get alot of homework done.
The next morning I woke up before the alarm. Figures and it just so happened to be at the time the kids get up for school. Once a mom always a mom. Oh and when I woke up I couldn't get my rings off. Guess my finger was a bit more injured than I had originally thought. It hurt and looked like hell.
Olly loaded better. I think he just knows that I am one person and there is no way that I can do it myself. I mean 140# vs 1100#. You make the call. Once he sees the help coming he pops up into the trailer like awwww shit, here they come.
Day II was all xc course, no arena jumping. WIN!!! We used the loose rein technique all day. Olly was in the zone. He was great. We did drops and logs and coops and telephone poles and water jumps and ditches and even walls and a trakehner!! Who is awesome? We are!!! He refuse twice the whole two hours and they were all because of him. See Lucinda said that since I have been riding so forward so long he expects me to be there on his shoulders when he jumps. He automatically stops. Although it is originally my fault, he should have kept going. My job now is to keep doing it right so he can too. We both have bad habits that we will break, together. After doing some drops and turns it was time to head to the water. For those of yo who follow my blog you will remember that we did practice a bank in my backyard. WIN! And we also went cantering through some water not too long ago. Good job Pru and Olly! He entered the water like a champ, UNTIL...he went to pop out and hit his foot. His fetlock boot slipped down to his hoof. He came outta that water kicking and a bucking. After that he didn't want to go back into the water. Lucinda envoked the crop. Once I had it he plopped right in. In the video I had already gone in and gave the crop back, which he kne and decided not to go in again. I ended up getting him in ith out the crop, but Lucinda suggested my using a crop at all times because he is a "naughty bastard." After the water we headed out to the ditches. We practiced some barrels and a few different sizes of ditches. Starting with a tiny bank then a wider shallow ditch that he could walk through. Almost like a narrow sunken road. Then the last ditch we jumped was about 2 1/2 feet deep and 4 ft wide. Olly did really well and didn't refuse any. We practiced ditches before, just along the road, but a ditch is scary no matter where it is. Lastly, Lucinda asked if anyone wanted to take on the trakehner. My eyes lit up. Pshhhhh ME!!! I looked at her and asked "you think he will do it?" She responded with "if you don't screw him up...." Fair enough...we trotted it, he bulked and then popped over. WIN x50!!!!!

Sweet, huh??!! Hell yeah it's SWEET!!!!

Who has an awesome BigRedHorse??? I dont have to answer that, because y'all already know. I circled around and she called out..."....ditch, trakehner, and wall." On it! I followed Jessica down the line.  Here is the Video

After the last line Lucinda came around and gave us her last thoughts. She said that Olly has alot of potiental (which I knew) and that she thinks he is capable of training level and higher, if I can get my butt in gear. She said that right now I am holding him back. She also said she will be back next year and hopes to see our improvements.
I met alot of awesome people and hope to keep in touch with them. I have made it a goal to attend a eventing show. It doesn't have to be recognized, we just need to go. I have learned so much from these two days. I look forward to the future videos and all the critiques you guys will give on how much MY riding has changed.
Oh, and the last note...I went to the doctor after returning home and they took like 5 radiographs and my finger is not broken, just "severly bruised" as the doctor put it. As of today I still can't get my wedding rings off and it is still bruised pretty good.

If this is the only injury from falling I am lucky :)

This a picture I dedicate to Andrea. I think her fashion sense has rubbed off....I was sitting in the drs office.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Lucinda Green tomorrow!!!! Hopefully lots of pics to follow!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Learner Becomes the Teacher

So this week I have been totally busy. My mom, step-dad, sis and bro came to visit us in Va. Perfect opportunity to teach my sister how to ride, or start to teach her how to ride. She(Mollee) is 12 years old and has only ridden Olly once. Luckily I have a trusty Chincoteague she can ride. She even brought her own chaps! I was so excited that she actually wanted to ride. She isn't much of a outdoor person. Dirt and Mo don't mix.

We started out with the basics, heels down, sit up straight and so on. She seemed to get it easily. We played follow the leader and set up some ground poles to walk over. We even did some trotting. At first I walked Olly over the ground poles.

 We walked slow since they were only like 2 ft apart. lol. Perfect Kiki stride though. She did quite well.

 On to learning diagonals and 2pt.

Since her balance isn't up to a consistant riders, we decided to sit the trot a bit. Again, not bad. To the ground poles!!! The first few times she went right over perfectly straight, but then Kiki started noticing that this kid isn't so on it. That is when the "pony" came out. Little innocent Kiki became the naughty Chincoteague. Dodging and trying to turn to the house.

I know Mo was getting irritated, but I thought it was great. Nothin' like keeping ya on your toes when your pony decided to do her own thing.
Olly on the other hand was bored beyond all compare. He walked with his head hung low and just tried to keep the slow pony pace. I did have him trot and canter to keep him thinking and I had him go over the coop a couple times. He seemed satisfied and so did I. It was an easy day for him.

On our walk back to the house we evaluated our session. Overall I think Mo did great! I think she had fun, although after looking at the pics she looked entirely too pissy to be happy, but I was reassured by her that she did indeed have fun. I really wish that she or I lived closer. I think that she would make a great little equesterian.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lead Changes

So after the show I , obviously, watched the videos of my jumping classes. As I said in the last post, I had no idea that I was on the wrong lead. Sad, I know, but it's the truth. Olly and I set out Tues to do some lead change practicing. I decided to use the french link D-ring, just because that is what I used in the show. I knew that speed was gonna be an issue after having a few days off, but I wanted to try it.
We started warming up and I could feel the power just pushing him along. He was waiting for a chance to go. I have mixed feelings on how I should handle his horse-y ADD. Do I let him run and get it all out or do I make him focus? Both maybe? I don't know. So here is what I did. After we warmed up we went over a few low, not even 2ft, jumps. He rushed and at every lead change he took the cue as "go faster." I set up a 2'9" ramped oxer.

I knew that would slow him down. Now, I know that this is no excuse, but the lower the jumps the faster he seems to think he can go. They are like mini speed-bumps to him. I notice that he starts to think about them around 2'6".  I have a video for you guys. Notice that at first he starts out more speedy and then realizes he needs to slow it down a bit. I do half-halt him and get him to collect(mildly) but at some point it would be considered pulling on him. So I usually keep him in somewhat  of a form and then let him figure it out on his own. You will notice that he does slow down by the end. After the oxer I set two jumps (low 2ft and 2'6") and work on landing on the correct lead, if we don't land correctly then we change...but you knew that. Also a huge problem that I have noticed is that he will change in the front and not in the back and I am left with this cross-firing twisted canter. NOT fun!! Again...collection. I tried to keep him a bit more together to help out.

As the session moves along, he does give me a nice canter. I know he is capable of it, it is just a matter of getting him to do it. And the lead changes did happen. Now to work on the neatness of those changes, because they were pretty sloppy.

Last thing: I wore my boots at the show. They were just boader line too tall. I have been keeping up with using them every time I ride and it is paying off. I rode in this video with them all buttoned up and they wre comfy!! Yeah!! Thanks mama!!!