Friday, April 30, 2010

day before the horse show

The day before the horse show dawned bright and sunny blah blah blah. So packed my already tried on show clothes, and the clothes that will go over my show clothes while I braid, and my polished boots, into the van and headed out to the barn. Tomorrow I should only need to remember to take myself. Family will follow later. I'm working, so I'm going early to feed and get the ones that can go out turned out and those stalls cleaned so other horses can use those stalls for the day.

I took my time grooming as I think that helps get her muscles loose, lots of massaging. Then braided (it was tighter but uglier today, lumpy and bumpy). Rode. Nice ride. I just warmed up about like I hope to do tomorrow, not too much. A good amount of walk with circles and bends and leg yields and contractions and lengthenings, and enough trot that she can actually trot instead of whatever it is she does at first. Then I just asked for a few transitions to make sure she was listening and willing to go when asked and then I rode my test. It was probably better than the last time -- at least I got 20 meter circles. She doesn't like the judge's tent but nobody does or will and it only took three circles to hit the track on that end.

So then we went in and bathed. And then cleaned tack. And hung out a bit. And talked to the women who are helping me work the barn tomorrow. Etc. Wonderful day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Library day and lesson that was rained out the other day. Braided -- it was ok; passable. Did it fast too -- about 10 minutes. I was trying to work out the timing for not getting on too early day of show.

Lesson went very well. So wish I could have one a week . . . or four times a week! Except my thighs felt like jello about a half hour after I got off.

So, in general the things we've worked very hard on, the things that were the sketchiest, went very well when we rode the test today. The things that should be more established didn't go as well. That's ok. I did talk with Lisa some about wanting my mistakes to be forward mistakes. She also asked me some about my goals in my canter work -- I said it was to get the canter on the correct lead and to hold it until I was supposed to trot. I mean, that's really all we've worked up to so far. Luckily Rol is rather naturally round at canter and if I can keep her from falling in to the circle, she looks really nice.

I still have to think really forward I think on that trot. Really really forward. Sit back, sit down, push from behind.

I missed three of my four big circles today -- that is, they were more like 15 meter circles than 20. That's a big thing. Also, free walk zigzag has to seem to me to go past X to get there (if that makes sense).

So, let me just talk my way through this test.

(inside arena warm up, trot a couple circles at judges end, a few transitions so she'll come up from that halt for me later, remind her with whip to be forward)
-A, working trot (straight) up center line, X, halt (square), salute (relax, take your time, half halt to prepare), continue working trot.
-C, track right (forward, bend, shoulder fore, forward)
-B, 20 meter circle (make it to the track at B period, forward, play with bend a little, make sure inside leg is long, once I'm off the circle, continue with energy, sit back)
-KXM, change rein, working trot (really sit back, relax, forward, let her shine, straight between hands and legs, at M bend bend bend)
-between C & H, working canter, left lead (forward, bend, ask, GO, allow with hands, inside leg to keep her out, outside leg to remind her to canter, forward, it is powerful and better too big than too tight)
-E, circle left, 20 meters, (what I said above for canter)
-Between E & K, working trot (aim for V, think relaxed but forward, sit BACK)
-A, medium walk (swing into it, seat seat seat)
-FXM, free walk (1234, forward, seat, HIT X, gather reins before M)
-M-C, medium walk (1234, don't slow down)
-C, working trot (accurate and prompt and FORWARD, let her go, sit back)
-E, circle left, 20 meters (accurate BIG circle-hit the other track, forward, bend if she can handle it but she'll respond to the legs if I have any left)
-FXH, change rein, working trot (show off trot, forward and straight)
-Between C&M, canter, right lead (strike off, forward)
-B, circle right, 20 meters (nice big relaxed forward circle)
-Between B&F, working trot (transition just after B here to gather for next tight turn)
-A down center line (straight), X, halt salute, smile, pat, talk to judge on loose rein.

I just want so much to do well, to be pleased with my ride when I get off. I am having fun with all the prep stuff.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


That's what I did, braid, and not too well at that, today. Yesterday and today it was too rainy soaked to ride unless you hit those little breaks in the clouds. Got a lesson scheduled for Thursday and I accidentally brought the barn phone home in my pocket so it looks like I'll be going in tomorrow too. Rol is shedding, big time.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

last minute ride

I almost didn't ride today. I vacillated all day. But five o'clock found me in the saddle. The wind was blowing. Because it had rained I stayed on the side of the arena that the dressage test won't be in, the side the freaked her out last show . . . of course, the trailers and horses and people weren't in the field below it yet.

Anyway, long to short, she was very good. Not so relaxed and round (and I felt like I kept falling forward too, which always brings her head up), but she was very responsive. Everything I asked, she did promptly and well, especially transitions. I'll take that.

I'll repeat it like a mantra -- I want my mistakes this show to be forward mistakes. There are so many things I really haven't had a chance to "practice", partly because there were other things that we had to get to begin with, like the canter transitions, so not a lot of time has been spent trotting a straight center line and stopping square and straight. Still. Forward. Forward will help rhythmic. And if I can stay with it, it will develop into relaxed and round. And not very long in the warm up.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

no one else can feel it for you

Today's ride wasn't really romantic, except in the way that joining with a horse to dance, and especially with a majestic Friesian mare, is always romantic. It took two tries to canter left lead both times I picked it up. But once we got it, it wasn't bad -- hard to hold down the long side and through the entire circle that the test will require, but nicer as a canter, more responsive to my inside leg and not falling in, etc. Right lead wasn't a problem, and wanting to jig after the canter was only a bit of a problem. Trot was mostly nice and we had some very lovely transitions. Still don't have the head and acceptance of bit as steady as I would like. Situpsitupsitback. I think I want my mistakes this show to be forward mistakes, powerful mistakes. Let's be relaxed but powerful, and not strive for perfection on the letters. Sometimes there's just so much to think about at once -- straight? bent? round? forward? rhythmic? relaxed? -- and there is no doing them one at a time, it is all of it and still correcting one at a time too. Sorta like family: All for One; One for All.

I did ride most of the test today for practice and found it hard to both ride the current movement and prepare for the one coming up. Stay in the here and now because she doesn't need all that much preparation -- as I said to Lisa the other day, Rol only needs ready set go, not ready, set, ready, set, ready set go. It was super nice that the scary end went away (the trees got removed). Now we'll only have the judges stand to make that end difficult.

Ah, but when I got to the barn, Sage and Shawna were in the arena and I hadn't gotten out of the van when Shawna said, "Hey, I promised you a ride while he was here! You want to ride him now?" H*ll yeah. Lynlee laughed at how hard it was to convince me of that. Oh my, but Sage is a small horse. Not really but compared to what I've been riding, his body is very thin . . . and I must say easy to sit on. That was just nice. I probably didn't ride him all that well but I didn't feel to badly about it. He was fun. It would be a lot of fun to learn how to ride him. Then Shawna rode Bart so it was sort of round robin horse day which I think is really very helpful to everyone involved and wish we did more of it.

Rol got a bath after the ride. She's suddenly shedding big time. I haven't practiced braiding at all. Etc. Everything must be cleaned, polished. I love every speck of it. White breeches, I hope you are still white! Can I find the boot polish? One week.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

in which my pinkie was held exactly

That's what my husband says, that dressage is about holding one's pinkie at exactly the right attitude; that horses, like cars, are about getting from here to there not trotting in circles, etc. Most of the time he means it in fun, sometimes in earnest. It is fine. I don't find it within myself to explain why dressage makes every horse better. But it does.

So today I had a glowing sort of lesson in which things went really really well and I suppose my pinkie was at the exact correct angle or something. Or I was holding my mouth right. I shouted out in the middle of the lesson, "I love you Lisa!", that's how good it was.

Partly it is about instruction. "When her head comes up, sit taller, open your chest," and you know what? It works. Simple as that. I can think it to myself a lot but it helps to have other eyes. I can also forget it a lot in the working on something or the other else.

But it is also about time in the tack. For awhile there I felt very inefficient, ineffective at taking instruction, and I think that was about the need to just ride, to feel. To a great extent, the horse and the riding will put you there. I personally don't think there is any instructional substitute for getting on and riding, playing, experimenting. Laying down on your horse's neck while he meanders through a field; sliding down a creek bank without sliding over his ears, or bounding up it without dismounting the way Zorro mounts; that sort of thing.

So I'm getting past the instruction making everything worse I think. I went through that sort of deal my first three months at MM. Ah, but then we got to the good part and it was so much fun.

What happened in the lesson? Well, kind of the usual, try to keep the rhythm at working walk to free walk to working walk to halt to working walk, trot at first stinks than gets much better, try to keep the rhythm at trot (and this is when she'll be a bit inconsistent trying to anticipate maybe I want to stop now? No? Now? No . . . and I have to stretch up, stretch the legs down) and we did figure eights changing the bend and trying to work off that inside leg (especially that left leg . . . if she gets that she can go left and bend left that is going to be so beautiful), and then a trotting figure eight to a canter transition. She almost fell down during the first canter left, no idea why. So we did another left and it was better (I still have to remember allow forward), and then right was just almost beautiful and we stopped there.

I said the "I love you" thing when there was just a moment of everything being right, when that bit of instruction fixed things for a moment and it was all there. I love that there is always more to riding, more to learn, more to do, forty-eleven things to think about all at once; but I also love those moments when it is all there, when that pinkie is exactly right.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday ride

I was told today, "I need my saddle at 3." Oh, ok, yes.

Maybe first I have to say that Julie rode Dollar today for the first time in 2 1/2 years! The delay was due to health problems. I'm so tickled that Julie is back! Hooray. Actually, there's lots of good stuff going on there on many fronts.

So, first the beautiful girl scared me this morning by laying flat out int he field with T standing over her when I pulled in. She looked a little to "flat" to me and it scared me. I parked and ran to the field . . . when she raised her head I said, "Nevermind."

The ride went well. Not very long and since it was cooler today and breezy, she didn't even sweat. I trotted the diagonal and bent her and thought forward and asked once for the left canter and thought forward again and we went! First time. Then we walked and trotted some more (worked on some leg yields at walk and serpentines at trot, along with lots of stretches) and did the same thing on the right lead and it happened again. Also, in canter, on the right lead the canter actually felt pretty good today (she can be hoppy), I think the best it has ever felt. On the left lead, she leans in like a motorcycle rider would and I worked to get enough inside leg on her to straighten her a bit and managed it for a few strides and so that felt great. She also did some good transitions, was very willing, etc. Today I just had no complaints and felt things generally went well.

Hopefully we have a lesson tomorrow.

Friday, April 16, 2010

another ride

That's nice to say, "another ride". Yes. It is the earliest I've gotten to ride in a long time which was also nice. Love the mornings. But when I'm working, I always default to getting the work done first, then riding. I should probably change my mindset on that -- feed, set up, turn out, ride then work.

It was lawnmower day, plus Greg was there running hither and yon doing useful things on the bobcat and Rol's one fear is something with a motor behind her. So I would just change where I was working in the arena according to what was going on, plus we did a lot of walk work. Goodness but she was stretching wonderfully today.

I also had that change in ride routine in mind but with the lawnmower and her also having to teach a walk lesson later in the day, we never did canter the other way, only the "bad" side. We did ok. 'Exuberant transition' might have been the judge's comment, exuberant enough that one was almost a real buck. It was fun. We also did a decent trot stretch to the left. We did the right one after the canter and on the "scary" end of the arena so it wasn't as nice but she did stretch some on it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

on an off day

I did not work, and yet I rode! We had to go in to town on another mission and I took the opportunity to ride! Hooray.

And much better all in all in the ride. Forward, forward forward. She is easy to ball up, and I tend to do that to her. That dang canter transition took a couple tries but happened much better than the other day. And the downward transitions were downright nice.

She is so funny though in that once she canters, she is so READY to canter again. The test moves through one trot then from one canter down to walk then trots again before going back to canter and I need to do that in our rides too -- not move from one lead to the other right away.

Hoo boy was the barn rockin' today. LB, Regina, the ladies, Shawna, Tammy, Courtney. And me! Also will hopefully be riding again in the mornin'!

I should probably mention the doubts I went through the other day. I was tired mostly from vehicle issues. I couldn't ride for a couple of days because of vehicle issues. So, nothing really to do with riding or the show. But the very questionable canter transitions the other day didn't exactly help either. And I will be working the barn the day of the show. And I just got to thinking that it might be better to just not ride in the show; to just work the barn and maybe scribe some for the judge, and I would think that and then burst out crying (and I was at the barn doing this). What I have learned from this is to never do what makes me cry like that! LOL!

You know, I might not have a pretty ride at the show, but I'm going for it. I was so proud of Lisa when she took Harley and went for First Level Test 4. I am not a timid person. I do not know why I get so backed off and balled up about something I love doing so much.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

training two?

I had the privilege of riding Rolinette with "the ladies" and their steeds in a group lesson. Now, I love group lessons, probably because that's what most of my experience is. I also love swapping horses in group lessons -- you get to see, literally see, what is effective and, honestly, how your riding compares, all under tutelage to get better.

And I love riding with the ladies because I love the ladies! They are hilarious sisters-in-law. Lisa, the instructor, did wonder how much it would add up to if we added all our ages and our horses' ages together (somewhere near 230 years I believe). We're an experienced lot, even if all that experience isn't in dressage.

Rolinette is such a pleasure to ride. And we had a really good lesson. I committed to trying to ride her in an upcoming schooling show in Training Level Test 2 which is a little of a stretch but not too bad. Might not get good scores but I want to try it. I'd do test one but test two gives a bit more time between canters which gives time to settle. I was also thinking of how I want to warm up before the test . . . totally in the back arena, and enough time but not too much, like twenty minutes maybe -- enough time to loosen up, to practice the transitions, to settle back, but not to get tired or bored or decide she's done. But that of course won't be set in stone this far out.

So, the lesson was good. Some decent stretches, decent walk, actually nice trot, decent transitions for the most part. Then came the canter. Truth is, I haven't actually cantered that much since I got back to riding. It isn't like I have a horse out here that I can just go out on and GO like I did when I was a kid. Everything is arena driven now. So I got to canter Jeb some when I was riding him. Bart a few times. Not Dollar though. I rode Casey one day and cantered her one way (hers was actually the most comfortable of them all) but couldn't get the other lead and I wasn't really riding her, I was just on her for a minute. Anyway. I've cantered Rolinette more than anyone probably, but for like a circle, maybe two at a time. And I somehow had her all balled up during the lesson. Our first canter, on her better side (right) was ok; I had to circle to get the transition and then it was bunny hopping like crazy and when I'd finished my circle I was ready to drop right to walk because I was exhausted! Lots of leg to keep her going and keep my butt in the saddle.

And this is where an instructor is so important -- Lisa said that she was just about as collected as she can get and for me to let her go some. Hey hey hey, I hadn't realized! So we did it again and it was powerful, not that correct but much more ride-able. Lisa said if that power didn't intimidate me (are you kidding?) to let it go like that. Wow. Ok.

The other direction was bad. Could. Not. Get. The. Transition. She was sucking back and turning inside out and she would almost take off on the correct lead and then suck back and if I was doing that I didn't know it so it became just let her go (except I have to remember to NOT say go), and finally we did it, she did it, we just went forward around on that lead. Try again another ride!

I'd never had that trouble before so it was frustrating. I always suspect myself, my form, my imbalance, my whatever. But I also think it had to do with her standing still while we were watching the others do the exercise . . . so in a group lesson again, I may try to keep walking with her. Should I get to do that group lesson again anyway. I hope so.

So, I've got three weeks and finding this darn vehicle is talking up way too much riding and thinking time. If we can get that settled, I'm going to see just how often I can ride her (3Xweek I hope).

Sunday, April 4, 2010

nice ride

Nice ride on Rolinette today. She's on night turn-out now and SLEEPS during the day, almost so much that you'd worry about her but she probably did that at night and we just weren't there to see like we are during the day. Anyway, I was going to ride in the afternoon but she would not get up! Would. Not. Get. Up. So I grinned at her and got to help Lisa as ground person on the big Drum she's breaking (she did great and is really ready to ride without a ground person probably) and started on the night stalls and waited until after supper when I knew she'd be up. It was cooler then too.

I should probably start taking a whip in with me. She's fine most of the time but occasionally a bit of help with promptly responding to the aids would be nice. I still have some issues with her head bobbing and this has to be my inconsistency because I don't think Lisa has this issue. Sigh. I need lessons. Anyway. We did have some great transitions. I find that when I want an upward transition that she wants to turn inside out instead of hold the bend . . . not sure what that is about either. We had a much better trot stretch the other day than today . . . really need to improve that but at least the walk stretches are getting better.

I worked her a little hard which surprised me . . . I thought I was too out of shape to bother her. If I get the chance to ride her tomorrow, it will be very light. But it was warm enough to rinse her off which was nice.

Loving all of this.

Friday, April 2, 2010

that little organization?

Glad that is over. When will we learn to trust our guts and not be seduced by potential? I gave up on potential in men a long time ago (thank you David for finally teaching me that you slug) but evidently I'm not entirely over my romance with potential. Well, maybe I am now actually.

One pimple on the butt of the universe gone. Well, not gone from the universe but gone from galling me.