Sunday, November 30, 2008

Trivia for Today

Anyone know what this is? :)


Yeah JWookie who answered correctly! It is used for colic and fatigue from shipping. This is not an item I have used in my 23 1/2 years of horse experience, but it is something my grandfather swore by. This box is actually from a pile of stuff he gave to me after Volo died. :( It still has the drops in it, but because I am pretty sure this is at least 10 (if not 20) years old, it is sitting in my kitchen as an "artifact" NOT to be used on a horse! LOL!

You can still purchase BELL drops for horses though. I am pretty sure Valley Vet and Jeffers is where I have seen it advertised. Probably not a bad idea to have a bottle in your first aid kit. :)

Tonight's chores

I took the camera out with me to feed tonight! :) It was totally on a whim, so this is how the barn always looks. I did not specially clean or anything.....in fact I was looking at how I need to re-sweep the aisle! LOL! :D

Sparky needs a good grooming. What a messy mare!

Dreamy eating her Dengie. I need to post about why she is on that now....

Oh scary new piece of wood! She is so predictable, I knew exactly what she was going to do and how she was going to sound! LOL! I had S put that board at the bottom of the door today. Dreamy keeps winging her empty Dengie tub out the door. I am not too concerned if it is empty, but I REALLY do NOT want her to waste her Dengie by throwing that out the door. Plus if she wings the tub out the door in a snow storm there is a good chance I will not find it until spring. :(
Now she will probably just find a way to wing it OVER the board. LOL! (OH and this door is not used to actually leave the stall. It could be an exit in a worse case scenario, but here this is only open for ventilation.....COPD horse! It actually is about a foot and a half drop...long story but this is where there used to be a little ramp for the sheep before the horses moved in. Sheep are gone, but this is on the wrong side of the pasture, so we do not use it. Plus the manure pile is right out there. Anyway, the new board at the bottom will not affect anything since no one enters or exits there. Funny/scary story....one time I opened that little stall chain during morning mucking and forgot to put it back up. Dreamy was in all night and never left. I found it down in the morning at feeding and nearly had a heart attack!)

Yummy...I love my Dengie so much that I slobber it all over my nose!

View of Sparky and the sawdust bin....it is not filled with sawdust in the winter, as it just freezes into a solid block of sawdust! We use bagged shavings in the winter instead.
Pics of the tack room!

It is tiny but there is a ton of stuff in there!


Good night mares! :)

Photos to enjoy!

It snowed for the first time this winter on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving!


C's first snow angel of the year! Not sure where the head is......I guess it is a headless snow angel! LOL!

Sparky, who can never seem to keep her clothing on straight!


Dreamy! :)


My girls! :)
The Cat Buffet.....need I say more? It is no wonder why we have two strays who showed up and moved in permanently!


Vacation = Riding!

Two words: Vacations Rock!

Tonight is the last day of my five day Thanksgiving vacation. It is snowing, so of course I am wishing for a snow day tomorrow. LOL! But that is silly. Really it was just so nice to have time off. I am still in withdrawals from being a stay-at-home mom for four years, so having five days off was a treat! :)

I was able to ride three times, which was fantastic. I have a student named B who is also an intern at C's preschool. She agreed to come over and watch C for me in the mornings so I could ride. Yes, I would have to pay to ride, but it was SOOOO worth it! She came over on Wednesday morning and I got in a good dressage ride. We worked on trot leg yields and got a couple of good canter departs to the left. I only rode for 30 minutes, since Ms. Dreamy is out of shape, but it was a good solid 30 minute ride. We are not setting the world on fire, but I was pleased.

Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving. :) Did not get a ride in, as S hunted all morning and then we ate dinner here with family at 3PM. That was OK though.

Friday B was going to call me when she got out of work at 2PM. It would have been perfect, as I could have ridden and then done chores. However, I have been staying up TOO LATE this vacation, so when C asked me to lay down with him at nap time (1PM) I completely fell asleep. I don't even remember laying there for long, so I am sure I needed the rest. Bad part though was we missed B's call at 2PM. I called her at 3:30 when we woke up and sheepishly explained what happened. She was fine with it, but I felt like a heel. Of course I missed out on a ride. Oh well.

Then Saturday.....again I was going to call B when she got off work at 2PM. But this time S came home early from hunting at noon. He wanted to relax and go back out around 2PM, so I took the opportunity to ride! It was cheaper....LOL! I called B and felt bad about it, but she ended up working a double shift at work, so I felt better. Saturdays ride was good. We worked on working walk and long and low walk.....she is getting so good about keeping bit contact! We did some trotting, nothing exciting, just working on a steady connection. Then I tried the canter just for half the 20 m. circle and she picked it up NORMALLY in both directions! YAY! Her right lead canter depart was actually pretty fabulous! No head tossing, throwing herself into the gait! Just a smooth canter with her back up and on the bit! :) That was so cool!!!!

After two good departs in both directions (the downwards need some help.....but one thing at a time!) we did more walk work. We did leg yields (again, as I did them in warm up) and then walk turns on the haunches, turns on the forehand, and then walk pirouettes.

Sunday (today) was supposed to be sunny in the AM with increasing clouds after lunch, with eventual snow. :( But of course it was just overcast and cold all day....with snow that started right at feed time tonight!

S stayed home all day (wonders never cease!) so I did stalls around 9AM and figured I would just ride at nap time. Instead, S decided to do some yard work for about an hour and a half with his father and of course C wanted to be right with them. So it made more sense to ride at 10AM and then get some school work done during nap (yes I had five days and I waited until today...it was only an hour's worth though!). So after two good "work rides", I decided it was time to just hack her out. Plus, at 10AM without any sun, the ground in the field was still rather frozen .

So we headed up the big hill (Pease Hill Road) which gets very little traffic as it is a dead end road in the willywags of western Maine. LOL! We actually did not see one single car in our 40 min. ride! The road is tar and turns to dirt. The tar road was fine, but it got kind of icy on the dirt as we climbed the hill. I was able to get a nice bit of trot in at one point, but that was because the sun had been able to shine in that area. Most of the dirt part of the road is very shaded, so the road was tricky. There was plenty of good dirt to ride on, but there were icy spots you had to be paying attention to. At one point, I just turned around because it was actually dangerous. The entire road was ice and I could not see any point in trying to continue on, as the rest of the road was all shaded and not likely to improve. But that was just fine, as we still got a good ride in.

Dreamy has become so much better about trekking out on her own. She still wants to be spooky in the first 10 minutes of the ride. It is like riding a stuck horse.....leg leg leg leg. She does listen to me and she is MUCH braver than a few years ago, but her "stickiness" makes her bob and weave like a drunken sailor! It is not a fun ride at first. Right leg says GET THAT BUTT OVER, then left rein says KEEP THAT SHOULDER THERE! And on and on.....The best part is that noise effects......she does a funny "fluttery" noise when she is worried. LOL!

About half way into the ride, we trot and she realizes I mean business. Why is it that when you trot the horse relaxes? It is like at a show, if she is being stupid in warm up, I put her right into a trot and she relaxes. Anyway, her fitness is no longer at that point, so I had to deal with the silly noises and drunken bumbling for a bit.

She was good though as she did just what I asked. On the way home, she is a normal horse. Gives me her big old swinging marching walk in a completely STRAIGHT line and I ride her on the buckle. Ah, mares! This is why I love owning a mare.

She certainly would never be barn sour or take off for home, but it is a very obvious sigh of relief when she can turn around and head back into familiar territory. My mare does not want to be a trail blazer! Another good trot on the way back. No head fussing, just a nice rhythmic trot. During the last leg of the ride, I consider teaching her to neck rein at the walk, since when she gets in the Standardbred Zone (I'll define it in a sec...) she is autopilot and I always end up riding along with one hand on the reins. LOL! My little western horse! She does rather like to plop along without contact, so I allow it on the trail at the WALK. I don't dare allow her to do it at the trot, because she is still not 100% convinced to go WITH contact yet. I do make her keep contact 100% of the time now when we "work" in the ring/field. I think she knows the difference between working and hacking out.

OK, so the Standardbred Zone is when she will either walk or trot completely straight, huge swinging gaits and just motor along. It is a comfort place for them I think. On the track, they exercise everyday in a big trot/pace and go straight (pretty much). I mean they go much straighter on the track turns than a 20 m. circles So I swear it is a Standardbred thing to literally get into a straight and marching zone on the trail. She does it on the track when we marshal too. It is just point and shoot.

So I had a good vacation. Yeah, it snowed twice (AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!) but I got to ride three times and they were all great rides. Here's hoping the footing will stay good so I can continue to keep riding.

Now I have to clean my tack. Nothing like a winter woolly horse to make your bridle a mess! :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More National Pics...Finally!

I finally got my National Show pics scanned. :)

Click here:
http://standardbredexcellence.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-national-show-photos.html

OMG, My Poor Horse!

SOOOO.....today I spent the morning cleaning house and then barn. Afterwards, C and I went off and did errands all over creation. We went to Scarborough, Buxton, Standish.....and by the time we got home it was mid afternoon.

As I drive in my driveway, my heart is suddenly in my throat. Where the heck was my horse? OK, where are BOTH my horses? Dear god, I figure they have been stolen. Stupid, but I admit it was my first thought.

I walk out to the barn holding my breath. Well, they have not been stolen, but are in the stalls. The wrong stalls. Obviously they had gotten loose and someone had thankfully caught them. Hmm.....Dreamy is SOAKING wet and hot, so she must have been running. I throw a cooler on her and put her back into her own stall. OOOOPS, she was in Sparky's stall, so that means she ate about half of Sparky's dinner hay.....DRY HAY! ARGH!

And that meant that Sparky ate Dreamy's DENGIE! AH!!! A Cushing's horse most definitely should NOT eat chopped hay mixed with molasses! Oh crap......now I am imagining Dreamy will be coughing and lame (because her sweat = a mad gallop around the yard = sore/strained something) and Sparky will be colicking. Life is just dandy.

Both mares were shook up - Dreamy because she had been spooked and Sparky because she was in the wrong stall. Whatever made Dreamy run and spook had not affected Sparky because she was completely dry. Weird! With horses back in their correct stalls, C and I go inside to change into warm barn clothes. I also check the messages, and there are 3 of them from various neighbors telling me my horse is loose. Thankfully one of them took it upon himself to call D & L Perkins down the road (they own STBs) and L came up to catch Dreamy. I called my neighbors back and also left a message for D & L thanking them profusely for saving my mare! From the sounds of it, Dreamy was galloping all around the neighbors' yards, up and down the hill on the road, and dodging cars as she went. Holy crap! One neighbor said she "knew where she belonged because she kept stopping to look at the barn." Well, that makes sense to a non-horse person, but it tells ME that she was very scared of something in the barn. She would have been doing that high-headed-completely-still-statue pose, bugged eyed at the "scary" thing, as horses do when they see something spooky. And then gallop around a little more, and then WHAM halt....stature girl again. I am willing to bet she did the warning blow too.

I go out to inspect the damage to the fence. She had completely busted through the front gate, so I mended that and figured all was well. There had been a lot of hunting today in the 100+ acres around us, including two deer being shot according to another neighbor, so I chalked it up to her being spooked by a hunter.

Because I wanted to keep an eye on the mares for a while, I decided to stay outside and finally bring my jumps inside. It was only about 3PM and I have been meaning to do this for about a month, but every weekend lately there seemed to be some reason why I couldn't. And with the recent rain I did not want to bring them all into the barn soaking wet last weekend.

So it took about 45 minutes or so.....C was bored and tried to help. He finally resorted to running around like a crazy child between the field and the barn as I hoisted and dragged standards and poles. As we dismantled jumps at the far side of the field, I realized the entire back fence was down.

Ah-HA! Now I knew why Dreamy was so upset. This looked like the work of a moose, as they normally walk straight through fences and drag them along for quite a few feet...and sometimes a few acres (ask my Bampie and I why we know this....). SO I go about mending the back fence as best as I can, as the sun is setting quite quickly. I figure I can 100% fix it all tomorrow morning.

So now I realize that something big and scary came through the back of the pasture so Dreamy left through the front. Isn't that a law of physics or something? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? I doubt it was a deer, as they normally just jump. Are bears in hibernation yet? Good lord, it could have been a bear. And I doubt it was the work of a hunter, as they would have had to have been REALLY blind to walk through a fence and break it like that. And besides a hunter would have just cut it, not broken it.

And if there was as much hunting as I suspect today (there were easily 20 cars/trucks of men clad in orange driving out of there tonight) then they must have stirred up the animals to the point that something busted into my pasture. Poor Ms. Dreamy. :(

I just went out to check the mares about 30 minutes ago. Dreamy is fine, her legs are cold and tight and she is not coughing. Sparky has gut sounds and has manured a few times, so I think we are in the clear. Whew!

I as much as I love my horses, I hate horse stress. :P

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Fire Breathing Dragon

So I finally got to ride today. I could not last weekend due to the rain, but it finally cleared off here this afternoon. It has now been 2 weeks since I last rode. BAH!

And of course, Dreamy was a complete and utter fire breathing dragon. Granted, she has not been worked (which has made her PISSED), but it was also VERY windy today. Also the temps have dropped dramatically, and these two things made for one high-as-a-kite pony today.

She is one hell of a crow hopper, I will tell you what. That was a first. :P

When my lunatic mare finally calmed down, I decided today was going to be a fine day to do some trotting, but mostly working on the connection to the bit at the walk. And there was no way I could canter because of the footing being soggy. So I sucked it up, told myself to feel lucky I was riding at all, and put my Puritan work ethic on the back burner. OK, in the trash.

It was actually a good thing for her to be so wound up. Usually she is so calm and stoic at home that I cannot work on relaxation techniques (such as I would need at the track or once in a while at a show). So we practiced marching at the walk and stepping up into the bridle. That one took a while. What a little brat she can be! :P

Then I would let the reins out S L O W L Y. She wanted to grab and yank, but I finally got some great transitions between our working walk and walking on a loose rein. When she feels like working, Dreamy can be pretty darn stretchy.

I did some trot work, but she was so flighty, I limited it to about 5 mins total. Plus she is out of shape. But mostly I was worried that if she did shy or crow hop at the trot, because of the soggy footing in the field, she might slip or hurt herself. The best thing is that while she was stupid, she was not unsafe.....well except for maybe the crow hops in the very first minute of the ride. LOL!

It was sorta like being at the track. She almost wanted to lose her halt, so we did a ton of halts interspersed throughout. She did not mind standing for about 3 seconds, but then wanted to shift around.....not move off like at the track, but just start shifting her weight. So it was actually a productive ride, though maybe not to my Puritan dressage standards, but nonetheless we did accomplish something by the end.

I remembered today that I wanted to do a ton of groundwork with Dreamy this winter (inspired by our run in with a tarp in a trail class this past summer......which she DID go over after a 10 second balk, but she leaped it rather than walk over it) so I must make a list of what I want to accomplish by spring. It may not improve our dressage work, but at least it will give me goals and plans for now.

I am also wondering if a copper bit would help her "dry mouth".....but I cannot find a french link eggbutt with a copper mouthpiece....only french link loose rings. Oh dear, the bit search. LOL! Well at least it will give me something to do.

The Mysteries of Life

So the rain has been horrendous and rather than cry (too much) about it, I am trying to find humor in it. Of course, now that the sun FINALLY came out today, the temps are dropping. You just cannot win.

So anyway, my big mystery of life question......How in the WORLD do earthworms get into the outside water tubs when it rains? I mean, I dump and clean them every day, so don't start thinking I leave them for so long that worms grow or whatever. It is just that when it rains (and it has rained A LOT lately) I have been noticing that there are little earthworms in the bottoms of the water tubs!

WTF???? Having pondered the many reasons why, the best answers C and I can come up with is that they either: 1. Jump in, 2. Fall from the sky, or 3. Somehow hatch in there??? Now while C is pretty sure they jump, I personally am leaning towards answer number 2. LOL!

Seriously folks, how do the earthworms get into the buckets? They are those big tubs and it only happens when it rains. I meant to get a pic today, but I dumped the tubs before I remembered I wanted to photograph them.

The other big mystery of life is why does my barn broom wear out so much faster than my kitchen broom? I just bought a new broom last summer and it is already beginning to wear down. Hmmmm....I think I already know the reason for this. ROFL! :D

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That's It, I'm Leaving

With fellow blogger and STB friend Now That's A Trot off on a new adventure as a working student, I have spent time wishing her well and simultaneously wishing I were young enough to be a working student myself. LOL!

So here we are. I found my perfect job, just as I was Googling for something else. Lauren just happens to be one of my favorite dressage riders too. AND IT INCLUDES FULL TRAINING BOARD!!!!!!!! *SIGH* I would happily muck stalls all day for that.

Sprieser Sporthorse at Clearwater Farm in Marshall, VA seeks a motivated, responsible, high-energy barn manager/working student to oversee day-to-day activities at one of Virginia's top dressage barns. Responsibilities include stalls, grooming, tacking, turn in/out, feeding, riding, lunging and general horse care at a top standard. Applicants must be of excellent character, experienced, not afraid to ask questions, take initiative and put horse care above all else.This job includes a cash salary, full training board for one horse (which includes 6 days/week of lessons and/or training with USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze Medalist Lauren Sprieser), and lovely on-farm private residence with kitchen, living room, high-speed internet and satellite TV. There is the possibility to supplement income by providing grooming services to clients, like body clipping, braiding, etc.Applicants need not be experienced dressage riders. This is a small farm with great people, wonderful clients, top horses and lots of opportunities. Don't pass up this opportunity!Please call 540.364.6179 or email lauren at spriesersporthorse dot com for further details. Thanks!

A Camel Does Dressage Better Than My Horse

Oh dear. It scares me when a camel does better dressage than my horse. LOL! You have GOT to watch this camel, as it does trot leg yields and one tempis. It is sad when my horse cannot even canter, while this CAMEL can one tempi.

Good grief.

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=CnsWQ4kNG-w

Friday, November 14, 2008

RIP Honest Appraisal aka "Muffin"

A very talented Standardbred mare was laid to rest today. Her name is Honest Appraisal, known to her friends as Muffin. I was lucky enough to meet Muffin this past summer. See here for the story. My thoughts are with her owner MS, who owned this lovely mare for 25 of her 30 years on earth.

Rest in peace, dear mare.

RIP Ed Szalajeski

I am so sad today. I got home from work to find two messages about a friend of mine who has passed away. Ed Szalajeski died after he had heart surgery yesterday. Ed is the track photographer at Scarborough and, while I may not know him that well, I do consider him a friend. He took some stunning photographs of racing, as well as some fabulous shots of my mare which grace the pages of this blog. We even posted each other's blogs on our own blogs, which I thought was pretty neat, considering it linked racing and riding this wonderful breed.

I am just so sad. It will never be the same for me now when I go to the track. I loved to visit with Ed and Derek. Ed always had a horse story or two to share....OK maybe ten to share. And he loved to share his photographs. I loved seeing what new photo he had taken and that he wanted to tell the backstory. He also photographed at the track with his dad, Ed Sr. whom I also really think highly of. Both Ed and Ed Sr. are just a true salt-of-the-earth type of guys.

My deepest sympathies go out to Ed's wife and young son, as well as the rest of his family, friends, and coworkers. This world is a little bit empty without Ed in it. Rest in peace my friend.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Pics from Sire Stakes weekend are here!
Plus here are a few from that day of us cantering! YAY! My posture still needs work but, hey, we are cantering! :)






We finally have some LIFT!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rainy Day

This weekend I was SO looking forward to riding, but the weather had other plans. :( The rain today prevented me from doing anything. I actually considered just cleaning all my tack tonight and riding in the rain during C's nap, but the field is just too sloppy/slippery to ride. It did not seem worth the hassle to only be able at ride the walk.

BIG HUGE SAD SIGH! (yes I am totally pouting)

I hope tomorrow afternoon is better. But then again, even if it is not raining, the field will probably not be dry enough. I HATE THIS! If S was home, then at least I could take a trail ride or something. But I absolutely have to stay in the backyard if I ride when C is napping and I am the only adult here...DUH obviously. Maybe I will just ride at a walk anyway. I am so horse deprived at the moment. I am already wishing it were spring and it is not even the end of fall yet. This is very bad.

I was looking over some of my blog entries and it makes me happy to see we have made progress. That was the entire point of starting the blog, so when I was down about things I could go back and re-read about all the things we have accomplished.

But of course, because of my mood, it struck me how much I struggle. I mean, wouldn't it be nice to just have a "regular" horse (meaning one who is actually suited for dressage)? There would be no entries about "Oh my god, we finally had a normal canter transition!" after SEVEN months of canter training. There would be no "Gee, she still paces sometimes when she is unsure." :(

I think because I am so down about riding (meaning I am not getting enough TIME to ride) I end up beating myself up about my lack of progress. I mean I know that is dumb, seeing as I have taken a broodmare who had never been ridden and now due to my own skill we are (kind of) successful at Training level dressage. And of course, it is a STANDARDBRED not a warmblood or TB or something. So see, I know my attitude is dumb.

But for some reason I just feel disappointed. I mean, I know I have done good things with Dreamy. And I do not need anyone to tell me that, nor do I need ribbons or awards to prove it. But I just wish I had TIME to ride!!! I hate this. And the lack of opportunity to continue her training is completely making me disappointed in myself. There is nothing I can do, short of quitting my job (which I would LOVE to do, but that is so not even remotely reality) so I can stay home to ride during C's nap every day.

Honestly, if I could actually ride 5-6 times a week, our canter WOULD be even better than it is right now. And some of the stupid training issues would be gone, seeing as CONSISTENT work usually eliminates them. I have basically be unable to ride during the week since I began teaching. And I HATE THAT. I really truly do. I almost resent teaching because of it. (OK who am I kidding, I totally do.)

Now part of me knows that next spring Dreamy will pretty much pick up where we left off this year, but right now that is not helping me. I miss my lessons. I miss setting goals. I miss my weekly training plans. I miss riding. Period.

Wow, I am just a ton of fun tonight. I just need to vent about this, because it has made me so stressed out lately to the point of tears. Riding is such a part of who I am, it actually makes me feel sick to not be riding my horse. And she is NOT a happy camper when she is left unworked and only turned out each day. At least she gets 12-13 hours of turnout.

UGGGGGGGGGGGG. At least if there were 5 feet of snow I would be able to rationalize not riding. My patient readers, you do not need to bother to comment. LOL! I know in my brain what I need to do and how I need to view this situation. I just wish my heart would cooperate.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Dark, Longer Stirrups, and Two Good Rides

So, despite everything, I have to say I had two fabulous rides this past weekend. I am no longer able to ride as much as I want/need to, so I have now become a "weekend warrior", which quite frankly sucks. Not only do I have no time to ride because it is now DARK at 5PM, but also this whole having-a-real-job-thing just really cuts into my riding time. LOL! When I was home with C. I often snuck in a ride after lunch during his nap time. Of course, this only worked if it was not 100 degrees outside. If so, I would wait until after dinner and ride around 6:30-7:00 PM. This was fine all spring/summer because it was light so late. So I have been in a real riding funk lately.

Well, while Dreamy may have thought she was retired there for a while, she was absolutely fantastic this past weekend. I rode both Saturday afternoon (after S returned from hunting of course) and then again on Sunday afternoon. The weather was gorgeous for November in Maine. :) I did not want to ride for that long, as Dreamy is becoming out of shape rather quickly. SO I rode for maybe 40-45 minutes each day.

She has come so far in accepting contact all the time. We did some really nice working walk and free walk transitions, where she actually stayed in contact the entire time. It used to be I had to be SO careful not to actually take "too much" contact at once (or any at all...) because she would THROW her little diva head in the air. Oh boy.

And on Satuday I just figured I would try a canter to see what happened....I was truly expecting it to be BAD. But despite her time off.....um.....like 2 rides in 2 weeks....yeah not impressed....she was really really good. I just did plain old trot-canter transitions on Saturday, and she was very obedient and happy. Left lead was better than the right of course....but it was not like the right was horrible. Going to the left she is accepting of contact and the right is still...>THROW head into the canter and bobble around trying to pace behind a little bit (still...) but honestly it was not as bad as it has been in the past.

Sunday she was being so darn good I figured well....let's see what the walk-canter transition might look like. I tried to just sit up, sit correct, and ask her firmly but without much fuss. And I knew that if I asked TOO HARD she would get all confused and end up picking up the wrong lead.

Well, I nearly wanted to cry. She picked up the left lead canter from the walk with NO PROBLEMS at all! HOLY COW! And the funny part was I could see her shadow when I asked her because of where the sun was behind us....and she actually looked like a REAL HORSE PICKING UP THE CANTER! ROFL!!!!!!! :) It was just as nice and light and off the forehand as a girl could hope for. We cantered for about halfway around the 40 m. circle (that serves as my "ring"...grrrrr....) and then came back to the trot. She was RIGHT THERE. No fussing, no fixing the rein length, nothing. Just canter to trot to walk. Then I asked her again to canter. And four times she did it! WOOO-HOOOO! I know that I probably did not need to do it four times (I know I am excessive), but for one thing it was just so exciting and for another thing it was FUN!

When we tried it to the right it was NOT so pretty. She got all flustered and when I asked her to canter she went into pace mode. UGGG. So, feeling a major hissy fit coming on, I just figured the hell with it. I tried the canter from the trot a few times. Ok we can do that. So then the third time I brought her back and asked from the walk. Whoa, she did it. It was not as pretty as the left, but she did it. I asked her to come back down and I let out the reins with a huge GOOD MARE!!!!! and scratch on the neck. She was really looking for a fight, so I figured once was enough. She did what I asked, though not "pretty", she did it. So I ended there.

I cannot understand why she still throws her body forward in this odd way and flips up her head when I ask her to canter to the right. It is exactly what she was doing to the left earlier in the year, so I am going to assume it will eventually work itself out like it did to the left. I am hoping it is not because something hurts. :( But now she is dropping her head/keeping it still and engaging her butt when I ask her to canter to the left, so I am hopeful for progress. We shall see.

Oh the longer stirrups thing....well Saturday I was cooling her out and started thinking that my stirrups were really way too short. I mean, I am such a hunt seat rider and have always felt more comfortable in 2-point. I WISH I had started riding dressage at age 6 and not hunt seat! AHHH! Oh well....but anyway, having gotten the new saddle this late summer and not always feeling confident in my position at the canter, I opted to go with shorter stirrups for my own security. And then on Saturday they suddenly just felt really short (I took my feet out of the stirrups when I was walking her around to cool down and when I took them back I was all of a sudden surprised at how short they were!) So I put them down a hole....not a huge deal for some, but it was for me. It made me feel so weird. But my position has improved SO MUCH and I am 100% used to my new saddle....so I decided it was time to be a big girl and ride like a real dressage rider. LOL!

And then on Sunday I totally forgot I had put the stirrups down. It dawned on me after our first warm up trot. Ah, these feel different......but not in a bad way, like it would have back in early spring when I could barely stay on when we cantered! LOL!

So, funny thing happened. All of a sudden I can use my entire leg and wow I am more effective! Imagine that. SIGH. Sometimes I feel like the biggest dunce in the world. What's the old adage....the more I learn about dressage the less I realize I know? Or something.

Our canter was better because I was SITTING UP better.....ah, maybe because with longer stirrups I could not physically get myself into my "safety zone" of forward seat riding. :)

So anyway, here's to decent canter departs and longer stirrups. I might not be able to ride as much as I like, but at least the rides lately have been pretty darn good.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

RIP My Sweet Horse

Rest in peace, Volo old boy. You have earned your wings, so fly free with the wind in your mane.

1972 - Nov. 2, 2008

See more here. :(