Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We have springs! Wheee!!

Today I jumped Dreamy a bit, in preparation for our next horse trial on August 12.  I am very conservative with how much I jump her and how high; at age 21 she doesn't need any extra wear and tear on her joints.  Today I figured it was time to raise the jumps a bit (since BN is 2'7", which is pretty much the highest I will jump her).  Plus, we needed to school a skinny, since we had a run out at one as the second element of a one stride back in June when we last competed.  I shamefully admit I don't have short poles, so I had my dad cut one of my regular 10' poles in half.  I figured if we school a 5' skinny at home, the 6' ones at shows will seem easier.

She was great over the skinny vertical!  She wanted to hesitate the first time through (it was just a small 2'6"ish - though I never measured it) and when I put my leg on she overjumped it.  The next time through was much better, and then by the third time she jumped it like all the other wider jumps.  Next time we jump I will make the skinny as a part of a one stride and see how that goes.

This video shows us warming up over a 2'9" vertical and a 2'6" oxer.  Later we cantered into everything, but my son can only be coaxed into videoing me for a short time, plus my phone was running out of battery.  :-)  I set the fences the other day and was surprised the vertical was 2'9"!!  I know that is not very high to most riders, but for the past few years jumps over 2' have seemed high to me.  LOL!!!  I don't really know why.  But Dreamy is admittedly jumping better and more balanced this year, so perhaps my jumping confidence has come back because of that??  I was pretty fearless as a kid and lately have felt that confidence come back.  I do try to stick with more bravery over stupidity though....  ;-)

I am pretty happy with my position.  My lower leg is not slipping back as much as it has in the past.  I see a slight roach in my back and I wish I were giving her just a bit more of a release.  My arms/shoulders are tighter than they should be.  Dreamy seems pleased with herself though!  

Dreamy jumping 7-30-12 from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.

PS - My son is the one who made that high pitched noise at the end...he said later when I asked that a bug had landed on his hand.  LOL!!!  It still makes me laugh even after seeing the video several times.  :-D

Monday, July 30, 2012

More show updates: MHA Shows

Normally, I would do a separate entry for each of these four shows, but now that I am behind in my blogging, I admit I don't remember many specific details to write about!  ;-P  Plus, things were pretty much the same at each show.  Reva has been outstanding so far this year and I am really proud of her!  Our first Maine Horse Association (MHA) affiliated show this year was back in May.  We have since done four more...

Downeast Horse Congress - June 15-17
This is one of my favorite shows!  This year I was the dressage manager, so it was a bit more work than normal, but it was still a lot of fun.  We had lots of laughs and good times.  Reva was very tense in her first few classes and we had a few bucks, but the second and third day she was much better (and probably tired!!)  We couldn't seem to pull a blue, so it was a "bridesmaid" kind of weekend, but for a young (still sorta green) horse competing with much more seasoned horses, I was very happy!!  :-)

  • 2nd W/T Pleasure, Open (out of 3)
  • 2nd STB 2-Gait Pleasure (out of 6)
  • 2nd STB Roadster Under Saddle (out of 2)
  • 2nd STB In Hand (out of 3)
  • 2nd Intro A - 64.375% (out of 3)
  • 2nd Intro B - 64.375% (out of 3)
  • 3rd Roadster Under Saddle, Open (out of 3)
  • 3rd Roadster Under Saddle Championship, Open (out of 3)
  • 3rd Trail Class Challenge, Open (out of 6)
  • 3rd STB 2-Gait Equitation (out of 6)
  • 4th STB 2-Gait Pleasure Championship (out of 6)
I bought the professional pics, so they are all on my Facebook....here is the link to see them!

ASAM Hollis Benefit Show - June 24
This was a great show for Reva!  It was super hot, but she was finally calm and NO BUCKING!!!  Yay!!  First show ever where she did not buck at all!!!  Baby is growing up!  And amazingly, we won all seven of our classes!  Yay!

I am proud of my girl...we won in full classes!
Here we are with Standardbred friends Katie and Major (middle) and Shelly and McKeever (right)
  • 1st STB In Hand (out of 6)
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure (out of 4)
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Equitation (out of 4)
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure Championship (out of 4)
  • 1st W/T Trail Class, Open (out of 3)
  • 1st W/T Pleasure, Open Adult (out of 6!!)
  • 1st W/T Equitation, Open Adult (out of 5)
The professional photos from the Benefit Show are here!!  The last few pics crack me up.....we were in the very last class of the day (I think it was close to 5:30 PM!!!) and it was soooooo hot, so I was being silly.  I promise I don't usually fist pump during a victory pass.  LOL!!!!  It was so hot you can actually see the sweat marks on Reva.  Yuck!  :-(

MeQHA Firecracker Show - June 29, 30, July 1
This was another great show!  I had so much fun; a friend and I even went out to play mini golf on Saturday night since there was no evening session!  LOL!!!  The only bummer was that Reva was the only Standardbred at the show...so while we "won" all the STB classes, it is only because we were showing alone.  I hate that!  :-(  I entered her in barrels and poles just for fun...we trotted them which was pretty funny.  The crowd of QH folks made fun of us, but that's OK!  For a dressage horse, I was pretty happy!  LOL!  And we even beat a horse in the poles!  LOL!  And he cantered!!!!  Hahahahaha!  

  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Equitation
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure Championship
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Equitation Championship
  • 1st STB In Hand
  • 2nd STB Roadster Under Saddle
  • 2nd Roadster Under Saddle, Open
  • 3rd Poles, Open 
  • 4th Barrels, Open 

Professional pics from the Firecracker are here!

Highview Riding Club Show - July 15
Another super hot day!  And sadly, yet again, we were the only Standardbred at the show (save for the STBs jogging on the track!  This show was at Cumberland Fairgrounds, where there are a number of barns and a track.)  Ah well....it was a good day anyway, as I was done before lunch!  LOL!!  I am bummed no one else brought their Standardbred to show, but at least it gave us a boost in year end points, I suppose.  No pics from this show.

  • 1st STB In Hand
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Equitation
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure
  • 1st STB 2-Gait Pleasure Championship

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reva cantering!

Reva has been coming along well in the canter.  We have been lightly lunging her in my weekly lessons.  We tried it a few times last fall and have again done it a few times this summer.  It has seemed to help her balance and confidence in the gait.  

This is her weaker lead, which I had been having trouble picking up.  But she has been picking up the right lead correctly on the lunge line and improving so much under saddle!!

Reva - right lead canter from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.

And here is her left lead.  She is also finally not plunging and "dolphining" herself into the canter.  She is still a bit too fast, but we are getting there!  Under saddle I am starting to have a half halt in the canter, which is amazing!  Such a nicer gait when she rebalances and softens!

Reva - left lead canter from Elizabeth Tewksbury on Vimeo.

Progress is slow...but I am pleased!  The best training tool is TIME!  :-)  And at only six years old, we have plenty of time!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oh, so funny!

I seriously almost peed myself...

And a follow up...

So, OF COURSE, I had to add one of these to my recent Smartpak order for free!  LOL!!!  :-D  The Beach Boys song kills me.  LOL!!

And yet ANOTHER!   Ah ha ha ha ha!!!  :-D  

And PART 2!!!  

Friday, July 27, 2012

SMDA show #2 - June 10, 2012

Reva and I attended our second dressage show of the year back in June.  I am woefully behind in my blogging!!  Oh well!  Reva was again very well behaved.  We rode Intro A and B and she was a bit less tense through her back.  We had a good warm up and no bucking!  Yay!!  Overall, I am very pleased with how her relaxation improved, hence our scores!

Intro A - 68.2% and a 2nd place out of seven!
Yay!  We scored all 6.5s - 8s.  The 8 on our last centerline was pretty awesome.  The comment said "quite straight" and I was happy to see that since we have been struggling with straightness off the rail.  Our overall comment was "Well ridden.  Some unsteady connection today caused loss of elasticity to hand and curling neck."  That is spot-on, as Reva's biggest evasion seems to be curling her neck and getting behind the bit.  We are working SO hard on that right now.  In recent lessons she has really started to improve and keep a light connection with my hand, instead of lugging and getting sucked back and tight over her topline. 

Intro B - 65.7% and a 3rd place out of nine!
Yay again!  This time our scores were bunched from 6, 6.5, and 7.  This test is a bit more involved but I think it rides much smoother.  (I hate the walk movements in Intro A.)  We got a lot of "fairly good" and "steady" comments and the overall comment was, "Steady tempo!  Some transitions hollowed.  Work to help him reach for your hand rather than curl his neck."  Again, a very fair and accurate assessment.

Here are the professional pics.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good Progress

While I have been doing a lot of showing this year, I feel like all I write about is showing!  But there is so much more to what I do with my horses than just that.  I figured it was time for just a general riding progress update.  Reva and Dreamy have been doing very well this year.  Reva has begun to really grow up and start showing great progress.  Dreamy, despite turning 21 years old (!!), is still happy in her work and in really good shape.  

Reva is a very sweet mare, and her early work with me was super easy because of her good temperament   She did the typical young horse thing, where as soon as the work began to be, well, actual WORK, she started to show a bit of attitude.  It really wasn't that bad, but it was obnoxious enough that I really prayed it was just a phase.  LOL!  She didn't want to bend, she didn't want to learn about half halts, and she would sometimes get herself into such a baby temper tantrum that some of our rides seemed counterproductive.  I would say that 50% of the time she was simply not fun to ride.  Granted, it was hard to also be working with Dreamy at the same time, who is obviously leap years ahead of Reva.  Dreamy has only been under saddle since 2007, but she is mature and has become super fun and easy to ride.

Just in the last six weeks, Reva has started to really come into herself.  She has started to bend consistently, maintain a consistent tempo, understand half halts, and stay relaxed nearly the entire time we ride.  Her baby teeth are finally all done erupting as well, so I know that had a lot to do with it, and her teeth grinding is gone.  Obviously, we still have a ways to go, but she finally seems to be happier in her "work" and I can start pushing her boundaries a bit without her having a temper tantrum.  We do still have a problem where she wants to suck back behind the vertical, behind the bit, but I am working very hard to correct that.  Her canter is coming along SO WELL!  We did some cantering this spring and then I sort of left it alone for a while.  I have just started asking her to canter again in the past few rides and it is great!  So much more balanced, not so heavy on the forehand, and she is not bucking and acting like a porpoise when I ask her to canter.  Just today I had a lesson with her and she was amazing.  Even my instructor was impressed (we did not see her the entire month of June because of my crazy schedule) and felt we were making very good progress.  Yay Reva!  :-)  

Dreamy started fussing with her bit back in May; she has been happy in her eggbutt French link snaffle for a very long time, yet all of a sudden all she wanted to do was chomp, chomp chomp.  Loose rein, regular rein, walk, trot, canter, halt, ring work, trail...it did not matter.  Her teeth had just recently been done, so before I had the vet back out, I tried a few different bits that I already owned.  She hated the mullen mouth and single jointed eggbutt (as I suspected), but as soon as I put her back into the KK Ultra loose ring she immediately stopped her fussing.  From what I could see into her mouth, it all looked fine.  Because she has been happy in the KK Ultra, I never bothered to have the vet out.  It was very odd but thankfully only took a few rides to fix.  

Other than her weird bit issue, Dreamy has been super easy this year.  I think the decision to just do a few events, team penning, and a few fox hunts this fall was a good one on my part.  By showing Reva in dressage, it took the pressure off Dreamy and me to keep working at First level and be competitive.  It was hard work for her and now at age 21, there is no reason to push, push, push.  I have found that all of our First level work is easier now, and I think it is because I took all that competitive pressure away.  Dreamy has the month of July off from showing, and all we are doing is gearing up to ride in Acadia National Park again next week with friends.  It was the highlight of 2011 for me, and I am excited to go back!  I have hit the trails with Dreamy as much as I can here at home this summer and we have been doing lots of trot and canter sets.  She looks great!  One thing she has really loved doing lately is our "pretend canter rollbacks".  We were taught this exercise (and a walk and trot) at our team penning clinic back in May, so I add it in every few rides.  Basically, we canter along say on the left lead, halt, back, and then "rollback" to the left (which is really just a nice turn on the haunches for Miss Dreamy Dressage Pony!  LOL!!!) and then right lead canter from a walk for 10 strides, halt, back, and then "rollback" to the right.  She loves it and will really sit back and use her hind end well. 

And I feel funny not mentioning my old girl Sparky.  She is 30 years old this spring and looking awesome!  She is holding her weight well and seems perky and happy each day.  She is pretty much 100% retired now and has rightly deserved it!!   :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blog Contest!!

Alright readers!  I have been hovering at 99 followers now for WEEKS!  The 100th person who becomes a follower will win a small (but fun!) prize!  And if I can get to 110, that person will win something even better!

C'mon readers!  I know some of you read but have not hit the "follow" button yet.

(Also, I apologize for the severe lack of posts...I have been having so much fun this summer that I have not made time to write.  I promise that will change soon!!)  Here is a pic from a show last weekend to tide you over.