Sunday, May 31, 2009

He's 23, But You'd Never Know It

I went to the barn yesterday to ride Lilly, but I ended up spending the day with AJ instead. He's pastured with 3 other horses and they all keep him excluded from their little group. So I felt bad for him, and he needed a bath and stuff anyway, so I went and got him.

The wash area is covered and has nice black mats. There isn't a way to cross tie him and be able to wash him very well, so I just tied him to the hitching post in the front of the wash area. He is definitely a cross tie horse, whereas Lilly is a hitching post type horse. He doesn't do well without cross ties and Lilly doesn't do well with them. Funny how that works!

Well, as soon as I started washing him he started freaking out about the water splashing on the mats. I've washed him there couple times and you'd think he'd be getting used to it by now, but instead he just swings from side to side looking at the water with his head and ears cocked sideways, and every now and then he lets out that snorty blowy thing they do. I also washed his face, which he hated but tolerated, because it was DIRTY. It's a bit of a challenge to give that horse a bath. But he got one and he's squeaky clean!

While washing him, I noticed he had some really bad scurf on his back legs. You could grab hold of the hair and pull it right out. So I decided I'd try shaving his back legs so I could scrub them really well. Back in his hayday, Mr AJ hated the clippers... He once dragged my dad through an apple orchard while we were trying to clip his ears. (We can look back on it now and laugh, but when my dad was covered with rotten apples, he didn't think it was too funny!) He has gotten much better about that these days, surprisingly, and I was able to clip the outside of his ears to get the dirty hair off, and I gave him a little bridle path too. Such a handsome boy!

Clipping his legs was a bit more difficult. He was freaking out about this and that and was still nervous about the wet mats and swinging back and forth all over the place. I managed to get them clipped, although it's not pretty. :) They're clean, though, and look much better without all that ick.

After the trauma, I let him eat a bunch of grass.

I think he looks 'older' this year. His coat isn't as slick and has a constant bit of fluff to it. He's always had a lot of muscle tone and some of that is gone this year too. I put him on another supplement for his coat, so he's on that and MSM for his arthritis. It warms my heart to know that even if he is looking older he doesn't seem to feel it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Show Limit$

I went through this last year in September when I was trying to decide whether or not to go to a show in Williamston... The blog entry is here. I find myself in the same position again, only it's a different show circuit and the cost is less this time around... It'll only cost me $227.50 plus gas this time! Yay!

My plan has been to take that Friday off and haul Lilly to the show grounds so we have time to hang out, check things out, and get clean for Saturday morning. I work from 4pm till 12:30am these days and there's no way in helluka that I'm working all evening and then trying to be at a show 2 hours away by 7am. Not happening. It shouldn't be an issue to get the day off and I put in for it already. As the show gets closer, though, I'm starting to wonder if I should go. Granted, Lilly is doing GREAT and it would be a good experience for us, but that's a lot of money and we could potentially get our butts kicked in every class. I just bought that new truck (allbeit to pull my horse to shows... lol) but I've been spending a lot on it getting it set up just right. I have the money for the show, I just don't know if I want to part with it.

It's the same old thought... "Should I 'waste' $250 for the experience or wait until we're better and doing well at the local, cheaper shows before going to these far away, more expensive shows?"

It would be an all weekend thing, so we wouldn't be coming home until Sunday afternoon sometime. She'd have to be stalled and I'd be sleeping in my trailer (finally getting some use out of the camper part of my trailer since I don't camp much anymore). I think it would be a great precursor to the APHA show I want to attend in August. We can test the waters with this show and see how she's going to do being stalled all weekend.

Next weekend I have a CMESC show, then the weekend after that would be the show in question, and the weekend after that is another JCHSS show. It'll be an expensive month for shows.

If I don't mail in my blank check by Monday, it'll cost me another $10 when I get to the show.

So what do you think? Is the experience worth the price and effort if we get laughed out of the show ring?

Amazing Trot

Lilly is really getting the hang of this 'long and low' stuff... especially during our work before the initial canter. Today when I was riding her, we were trotting around in circles (still not really ready for rail work yet) and she had this really beautiful trot going. Her head was low, actually it was a little too low, but I'm not messing with it at all at this point, and she had a really consistent, very flowy trot, and she was on a loose rein. And by loose rein, I mean my hands were probably only about 2 inches from the buckle on each side. So she was holding this wonderful trot together all by herself! She seems to do much better on a loose rein than when I have a lot of contact with her. I think the loose rein is more relaxing to her and she isn't as uptight as when I have a hold of her. I wish someone had been videoing us... it was such a nice trot.

So this is the part where my trainer, who does dressage, and I are going to butt heads. I can see that now. Early in our training it didn't matter because we had a million things to work on with Lilly, but now that she's becoming more refined in her training, my trainer may have to let go of her dressage ways and start helping me with my huntseat pleasure (and eventually western pleasure) goals or I'll have to start looking for a new trainer. She is always telling me I have too much slack in the reins, but the tighter the reins, the more uptight Lilly is.

She still isn't bending as well to the left as she is to the right. We did a lot of rectangles instead of circles because I couldn't get her to bend. So I'm really going to have to work on that a lot. I wonder how many times I said, "bend, Lilly..." today? Bend, bend, bend!

Our canter work went ok today. There were quite a few times where I was planning to canter, but she was more worked up than I would have liked, so we just walked a bit instead. Once she was calm again, more trotting. I've been doing a lot of sitting trot work too without always cantering afterwards since she's so certain sitting trot means 'canter soon'. We had a couple good transitions today and we also had some 'WTF was that' transitions. I think I have a lot to do with which one we get because it ends up being this big production sometimes. But when I just try a 'lah, lah, lah' transition, they're beautiful. It just takes so long to get her set up and moving the way I'd like that often times she's been ready to canter for so long that she explodes. I was also trying to keep a loose rein as much as I could thinking maybe she'd stay more relaxed that way. She's just still too antsy about cantering to really tell what the key might be for that. But I was very proud of her today. :) She did fantastic!

When I hosed her off after the ride today I decided to mist her face because it was pretty sweaty. I can tell she HATES it but tolerates it because she knows she doesn't have a choice. When her face is getting wet she does this funny thing with her mouth where she shows her teeth... kind of like when a dog shows it's teeth and growls... Am I making sense? I just think it's the funniest thing. Poor pony. But she got to eat a lot of grass and had a good roll when we were done.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Hitch In My Plan

Haha! I'm such a loser, but I couldn't resist that title! :)

I've been so busy with my new truck and things aren't even done yet! My brake controller is in and my Line-X has been sprayed but I'm missing a gooseneck hitch! The hitch place doesn't have the kind of hitch I had in my old truck (that I loved!) so I'm going to end up spending $750 on one that I don't particularly care for or want. Fabulous... I had this kind of hitch 2 trucks ago and I hated it with a passion. The hitch guy assures me that I'll like it this time because, well, you know, they've made improvements and stuff. Besides that, he thinks mine was installed by an idiot the first time around. :)

But before going to pick up my truck from the dealership I went to the barn to ride Lilly. I've been to visit her and let her eat grass over the past week but this is the first time I've ridden since the show. Last Friday she got new shoes and my farrier made them a little bigger and had them stick out farther behind her to support that foot with the low heel. So now she's in bell boots 24/7 so she doesn't rip either of her front shoes off... pray with me! So I was anxious to see if I would notice a difference with her to the left because of the new shoes. The verdict was 'no', but I wasn't sure if the low heel was even bothering her, so she might have been just fine with it before. It was just bugging me... so now I'm happy. :)

She was a really good girl. I didn't ride her for too long because it started raining, but we went through our usual circles and bending and trotting and eventually cantering. She's doing really well with her hunt seat trot... she's keeping her head lower and stretching down with her neck. I have no idea how I'm going to eventually transition to a jog with her, though... baby steps, I know, but I like to think ahead. Sometimes when I ask her to bend she will THRUST her head down as if to say "IT'S DOWN!" To which I reply, "Well, leave it there and I won't have to ask you, missy". :) She's so funny! (little brat...) So she'll leave her head down during the canter transition now too but she still trots around listening intently to me waiting for the canter cue. No pogo pony trot today at all, though, which was nice, and the transitions are getting better! Today I was actually able to ask for a canter using a real cue! Instead of her being a hair trigger, I actually got to put some pressure on the trigger before she fired. :) It was nice! We even cantered on the rail with loose-ish reins.

I have a show next weekend and I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, we'll try a canter class. I guess it will depend on how many people are at the show.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Things I Do For My Horses

I haven't ridden Lilly since the show last Saturday. I always give her the day after off, but in this case it was pouring all day, so she would have had the day off anyway.

Then the rest of the week I was shopping... all day, every day until it was time to go to work. What was I shopping for you ask?

Why, a new truck for Lilly, of course!

Here it is! A 2009 GMC Sierra... I'm in love!











Saturday, May 16, 2009

JCHSS #4

I wasn't sure the weather was going to hold out for the show today... it was one of those days where it rained for 10 minutes and then the sun came out. It was actually kind of nice because it cooled us off every now and then!

There weren't very many people at the show today. I think there was a 4-H show somewhere and most of the younger kids were showing there. And I have no pictures... :(

So here's how things went today:

My first class was halter, and we got 4th place out of 8 horses! Lilly is looking good these days. She's all shed out, she's building up muscle tone, and her mane looked fantastic! ;) After the class I was on my way to get my ribbon and a lady stopped me to say how much she loved Lilly's hip. She said Lilly had such a nice hip that she just had to touch it! Isn't it funny how, as horse people, we admire the rear ends of horses? And no one thinks we're odd!

English showmanship was next. It wasn't the dreaded 'L' pattern as I had hoped, but it was the even worse tear drop pattern I hated so much at one of the other shows! But we've been practicing, so I was hopeful. We started out by backing up from cone two to cone one, then trotting past cone 3, doing the teardrop and coming back to cone 3. At cone 3 we had to do a 360 and then walk to the judge. Lilly did pretty good... she didn't run me over doing the teardrop and she only picked her foot up once during the pivot. When the pattern was over, though, the judge says, "Can I ask you a question?" I said, "Yes, sir..." He said, "What side of the cones were you supposed to be on?" I thought to myself, "shit!" but aloud I said, "I'm guessing since you're asking me, I should have been on the right side." He said, "That's right... you're dismissed." CRAP! The girl behind me was also on the wrong side, but the 3rd and final entry was on the correct side. Whether she heard the judge or not, I'm not sure. Maybe she just paid closer attention than I did. We got 2nd out of the 3 because we were on the wrong side. I was really mad at myself for not paying closer attention! An easy PAC point thrown away!

The riding classes were a lot of fun. I worked Lilly out in the make up arena for a while before my first class and she was doing really well. We did all of our bending and circles and things felt good. I was hopeful!

The huntseat walk/trot class had 18 entries... it was probably the biggest class of the day. Lilly did really well. She fought me at first and wanted to do her own thing, so I decided to take her in a circle and ask for the bend. I figured if I blow the class, I blow the class... she needs to know the show arena is no different than home or the make up arena. So after that, she was much more responsive and we took 7th place!

The other 2 riding classes were much smaller. They both only had 7 horses. We placed 6th in the stock type class and 4th in the adult GAYP class. The adult class was Lilly's best! I was hoping for higher than 4th, but I don't get to see my competition, so I'm not sure where we were lacking. But I couldn't have asked her to be better. She trotted around with a great headset, and a great speed. I was very happy with our class! :)

It would have been a good day to try a canter class because there were so few entries, but I decided against it because I just don't think we're ready for that yet.

The last class of the day was the western showmanship... there were 4 horses in the class and Lilly NAILED it! Her pivot was perfect, her back was straight, her teardrop was great... I was very excited to hear the results. So when the placings came, they said, "First place, number 222, R Lil Bit of Cash!" WOOHOO! But... that was it. No 2nd place, 3rd place, or 4th place. Apparently, he had DQ'd the others for breaking pattern in some way. 1 more PAC point for me!

I remember seeing some upset people earlier in the day during the equitation patterns. The judge was DQ'ing them if they didn't do his pattern right. If he was DQ'ing people for blown patterns, I'm not sure why I got a 2nd in english showmanship rather than being DQ'd. Maybe he decided to start after the showmanship class...

When I was closing out my check with the show secretary, I was asking her about him DQ'ing riders. She said there a lot of unhappy people and folks kept saying "it's just an open show" and that he shouldn't be DQ'ing riders. I've always been DQ'd when I blew a pattern. When I showed in Michigan, in 4-H and at local shows, you blow a pattern, and you're done. If you did the jump course wrong, if you messed up the trail class, if you incorrectly did the showmanship pattern, you were DQ'd from the class. I just hadn't seen that down here until today.

That's the way it's supposed to be!

Because there were so few people at the show, I was done at 4pm. I was able to watch the western classes for a change, and that was fun.

All in all, a great day! I need to get going on the cantering so we can ride in more than just 3 classes per day.

Here's a picture from when I got back to the barn. It had been raining and I saw the pretty rainbow.



Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Good Ride!

Yesterday was beauty shop day for Lilly in preparation for the show tomorrow and I ran out of time before I got to ride. She didn't mind, and I don't mind either. Just hanging out is fun too! She got to eat a lot of grass and looks really pretty for tomorrow!

I did ride today, however, and she was a really good girl!

We pivoted 4 times before I got on and she left really big divots in the ground. That's my girl! With all this practice she's getting really good at setting up too. As soon as I turn towards her she plops her feet into place. So hopefully we'll do well on our showmanship pattern tomorrow and she'll nail the pivot. I just hope we don't have the dreaded L shaped pattern again tomorrow. Ugh...

The riding part went well. She did a good job of staying calm throughout the entire workout despite a few canter issues I'll mention later... First let me tell you about her trot. Her trot was AWESOME! She was staying really consistent, had a nice speed (not too fast but not jog-like), and her head was perfect. It was down and it was level! She wasn't behind the vertical at all and just trotted around like a superstar. It looked really pretty! I'm hoping I can get some of that out of her tomorrow in the riding classes. It's always a different story at the show with everything going on around her, but I'm hopeful.

I also worked on sitting up and back when I ask for the trot transitions, but sometimes we still get that one hop step before the trot comes. I'll just practice more and make sure I stay sitting properly.

We had some lead issues with our cantering today... She was doing everything I asked at the trot, and even slowed down a bit when I started my sitting trot. She had her head down and I never saw the pogo pony trotting that I despise so much. She did slow waaaaayyy down a couple times like she usually does when she's doing the pogo trot, but it was slow without the pogo. So I sped her up to try and get a true trot before asking for the canter. (Who knew that one day I'd actually be asking her to speed up??) We went clockwise first and she picked up the wrong lead 4 times in a row. So I'm thinking to myself, "what in the heck am I doing wrong here..." I knew it was something I was doing (as usual) and thought maybe I was leaning to the inside (like I tend to do) and I was preventing her from being able to pick up that inside shoulder. So when I asked again I pushed my pelvis forward and to the outside and made sure to sit straight up. And with that, we had the correct lead!! She's getting better at this than I am now! The part of it that I'm so proud of, though, is that each time she picked up the wrong lead, she came back down to the trot with no fuss, went back to bending, and didn't lose her cool when I asked again. Wrong lead, no big deal, we'll try again... I didn't have to calm her down or trot a hundred times around to get her back to focusing on me. None of that "when we are going to canter again? HUH? NOW?" stuff I'm so used to. Instead we were able to go right back into it again. And even though she was getting the wrong lead, the transitions were quite good!

Her counter clockwise canter wasn't quite as good and we had a few leaping transitions, and a few when I didn't ask for them, but we worked through it and ended up getting two good ones. Both ways we were able to canter around on the rail for a bit too at a decent speed and cantered around in smaller circles on a loose rein. She wasn't resisting the bend so much in either direction and even carried her head in a decent spot... not where I want it, but not straight up in the air either. The bending is really helping her a lot!

There's less OMG chomping and more gentle chomping on the bit too. On a scale of 1 - 10, 10 being when she has her crazy, psycho pony moments, she's gone down to a pretty consistent 5. She still has her moments but we're able to work through them much quicker now. Such a huge improvement in such a short amount of time!

Oh, and I think she's really building some muscle. :) When I pulled her fly sheet off today I said, "Wow girl! You're looking HOT!"

I'm really excited about tomorrow!

On a side note, I tried cantering from a posting trot and it didn't work out real well. She did ok, but I did not. :) So I guess it's more me than her that's not ready for the posting trot/canter transition. I need to be able to cue her just right and I can't do that while posting... yet. Hopefully soon I'll be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Great Transistions!

I am just beaming with pride today!

I love my horse every day... she's sweet, she's smart, she's trustworthy, she tries really hard, and she's beautiful. She's my favorite horse ever (shh... don't tell AJ). But today, I took even more time to appreciate what a special horse she really is. I can finally see the potential in her coming out that I was starting to wonder about. I didn't doubt her, I doubted myself, and whether I could bring it out of her. I'm just so proud of her!

I've been walking her to the arena in a loose girth, and tightening it up here and there as we go along. So part of the routine before I ride now is having her pivot on the right foot so we can get that down pat. She's been doing really well and hardly ever pivots on the left foot. Sometimes she steps out of the pivot, but I have to work just as hard to remember to pull her forward, rather than push her backwards. So then we mosey over to the mounting block and I lower my irons, and tighten the girth up one last time before I get on. Now, when I say mosey, I mean mosey... we just plod around the arena like we've got no where to go. I think it helps her get in the mindset of "relax" and "it's no big deal". So when I get on, she just stands there. I put on my gloves, adjust my helmet, play with her mane... no big hurry, no big deal, we're just hanging out. She even stands relaxed with her head down until I tell her to walk. It's AMAZING compared to how she used to behave. The second I sat down in the saddle she'd walk off. I'd ask her to whoa, she'd stop, and 2 seconds later she's walking again. I'm trying to put on gloves and get adjusted and she's hurrying off. Not to mention, her head was always up, she was stiff, and she kept eyeballing me as if to say, "what's first?". It was always go, go, go! Now it's "just let me know when you're ready". Such a good girl!

So off we go... she plods along, we get to the rail, she plods along, her head comes up, I ask her to put it down with my leg and a touch of inside rein, she bends and drops her head. This is great! We do some circles at the walk and I bend her left and right, we do our serpentines, and she's calm... almost lazy.

My trainer always says, "we don't want her being lazy... make her walk with some energy!" Honestly, when I'm not taking a lesson, I let her be "lazy". I would give almost anything to have her lazy... I really would! So as long as we're moving forward, I'm content with her going slow and being lazy. In fact, I love it! And at this stage of the game, a lazy Lilly is something I'm working to get. Especially since I have no trouble bringing her out of lazy...

So next we do our trot circles... Her transition was nice, not perfect, but she's keeping her head down more during the transition. I'm sitting up, I'm posting with purpose, and I'm thinking "be relaxed". We're going clockwise first and she's bending like a dream. No pogo ponies here!

Next, I'm thinking about the 'c' word... she's got her head down, she's got a nice trot speed, and I give her the cue. Nothing... That's right! NOTHING HAPPENS!! I even flopped in my saddle in anticipation. Now, I'm embarrassed to even admit that, but I flopped! My leg went all wonky out to the side and I had to re-situate myself. I was expecting the super take-off and it didn't come. So I know how horribly wrong it is to anticipate like that, but if I don't prepare myself a little bit, she will throw me right off her back end. It'll be like the cartoon where the horse takes off so fast that the person is left behind, and then falls to the ground... So after I got done laughing at myself, we prepared again for the 'c' word. This time, when I asked, she actually cantered, with a half way decent transition! It was a little fast, but she kept her head down and picked up the right lead. She got a nice pat and we cantered around in the circle for a while. Her speed was great and she was bending nicely! So I asked for the trot, then the walk, and patted her a whole bunch! Then we walked around for a bit to get her relaxed again.

I took her to the other end of the arena and started our counter clockwise trotting circles. She wasn't as good this direction and was a little hyped up from the previous canter, so it was back to small walking circles. Once she was relaxed and bending again, it was back to trotting. When the trot was looking good I started thinking about the 'c' word. Psychic pony heard my thoughts and started trying to canter on her own. She was bringing her head up, doing the pogo hop, and was refusing to bend around. I just kept bending her around and doing smaller circles until she was keeping her head down... she was chomping on the bit while doing the circles so I knew she wasn't completely relaxed, but she was doing what I asked. So I was expecting an explosion but hoping for the best. Then I asked... and she stepped into the most perfect canter transition ever! No muss, no fuss, just stepped right into it! I could not believe it! She got a pat and a "good girl!!" Then we cantered around in circles for a bit and went out to the rail for a few laps. She did wonderfully!! I am so excited about this progress!

I know there is an optimal time to ask for the canter as far as leg falls go to make it easiest for the horse, but I have no idea when that is... lol I don't know if everything was in sync and I asked at the perfect time so it made it really easy for her to step into the canter, or if we just had a nice transition because it's getting easier for both of us. I've never really been taught 'feel' on the back of a horse so I wouldn't necessarily know where her legs are at any given time, but I'm trying to learn. In 4-H I learned how to ask for things and what to do if I don't get what I wanted (and those things make me cringe to this day) but I never learned how to really ride and feel. So with Lilly, especially because she's so sensitive, I'm trying to do a lot more through feel, and communicate with her more with my whole body rather than only using reins and leg. With her, the more subtle the cue, the better things go. And the subtle cues are all it takes to get the job done! :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Great Lesson Today!

Today's lesson went rather well! Before my trainer arrived, I worked Lilly in a bunch of circles, got her bending, and we trotted a little to get warmed up. I didn't do any of the 'c' word because I didn't want her getting all hyper before it was truly necessary. ;)

I've noticed lately from doing the circles and asking her to get low that when I put my inside leg on her she'll drop her head. She knows the circle is coming, she knows the bend is coming, and so she's giving to me very early into the circle. It has really made a big difference when we actually go to the rail because I can apply a little inside leg and she gives to me. Not every time, mind you, but we're getting there. It's great because it means less use of the reins and I can leave her mouth alone. I'm very thankful to you, DIJ, for showing me that little exercise! It has made a world of difference in Lilly in many, many ways! She's more calm, she's really bending, she's giving, she's lowering her head, and she is much more balanced at the trot and canter. THANK YOU!!

So early on in my lesson we did a lot of trotting. I'm trying to remember to 'post with purpose' and sit tall in the saddle. I have that bad habit of looking down and now I'm trying to look up, and look where I'm going. Looking down also makes me lean forward, which is certainly counterproductive to what we're trying to teach Lilly. My trainer is also reminding me every few strides to relax (sound familiar?)... she said I'm very stiff and don't let my body move in motion with Lilly. My hands are also very stationary (which I know is a terrible habit I'm trying to break) and I need to remember to use my arms and my body more, and not just my wrists. My trainer said she has a lot of clients that flop all over the place, which isn't good, but I'm the opposite of them, and also not good. She said she'll never have to tell me to be still because I never move. She said it looks like someone put me on Lilly, posed me, told me not to move, and sent us on our way. So getting Lilly to relax and not be super sensitive to every move I make is up to me. It is SO true, too... She is very sensitive to my movement because I never move... so when I actually do something, she knows it means she's supposed to do something too. No wonder she has a hair trigger! I need to relax so she can relax and then maybe we can make even more progress there. I'm also working on keeping Lilly bending in the circle. Apparently she has less work to do than me. :)

We worked on walk/trot transitions too. My trainer stressed how important it is to get a good trot transition because it will really help with the canter transitions as well. So we worked on getting her to really stretch down, and once she was in a good place, I asked for the trot. It worked really well and we had some nice transitions where her head was still down and she wasn't being pogo pony.

Then we moved on to the 'c' word. We started off going her bad way (counter clockwise) but she did very well. The transition wasn't good, but about 3 strides into the canter she settled right down and it was good. She still isn't very balanced, although the improvement is noticeable, but I was able to get her bending and even to give a little to the bit. Once we went back to the trot, she turned into pogo pony and it took quite a bit of coaxing, and lots of leg to get her working in a normal trot again. I did a lot of sitting trot because to Lilly 'sitting trot=canter very soon', so we did sitting trot, rising trot, sitting trot, walk, sitting trot until she was calm again. I got her stretching really well at the sitting trot too, and did the same thing with the canter transition the second time that we did with the trot transitions. It really seemed to help. I just asked for LOTS of give, a little more than necessary, but then asked for the transition. They were much smoother that way! Still powerful, but at least her head didn't come flying up.

When we started cantering clockwise, things got a little tougher. She kept picking up the wrong lead, but with all that leg, I think I was confusing her. I've really been riding with a lot of leg contact so I can steer and also keep her bending and giving. I think my body position was off as well and she was having a hard time picking up that inside shoulder. When we finally got the correct lead, she started to do a gorgeous transition, but then finished it with rocket-like propulsion. My trainer said I ruined it... :( So I had to pat her, say, "my bad" and try again. My trainer commented that because Lilly is so sensitive, I should be able to shift my pelvis and communicate to her that she should canter. So I gave it a try... she really does need a cue, because my legs stay on her all the time now, so I slid my outside leg back a bit to tell her 'right lead', then shifted my weight, and off we went!! It was really pretty!! Correct lead, her head stayed down, and it didn't nearly throw me off the back of my horse! (I had to quit using the kissing sound to ask for a canter because it really sent her off the deep end... it was encouragement we most certainly did not need... lol)

So we ended on a fantastic note and I can't wait to ride her again and work on the transitions.

I'm so excited about the progress I'm seeing in her! Even with all the work we did today, she barely broke a sweat, so I know she's getting more fit too. I'm really hopeful that we might even be able to ride in a hunt seat class or two in August at the APHA show. They don't have walk trot classes for the newbs like me and Lilly, but maybe... just maybe... we can make our canter debut there. We'll see... I guess it depends on a lot between now and then, and I'll try not to get my hopes up too high, but I'm really excited about the possibility!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fly Sheets and Shaves

Here is Lilly in her new fly sheet. The long tail flap is really saving her tail! I can tell where she's been rubbing but her tail is safe and sound underneath. I really like the way it fits, and how it wraps around under her tummy too. It's made for Quarter Horse type horses, so it fits her really well. I wish it had leg straps, but the front has Velcro and and two snaps like you see on lead ropes. It is also really lightweight, so I don't think it'll get too hot when we have our 100+ degree days. It isn't as UV protective as my last one, but hopefully it'll keep her from getting sunburned, and maybe keep the flies off in the process!

She also had the ickies on her back legs from months of poo and who knows what else... So I took the clippers and shaved most of her hair off. Then I scrubbed her legs really good and voila! White, clean legs! They look so much better now! I figured I might as well shave her front legs too, so she'll be all set for the show next Saturday. She sure does have a lot of scars... poor thing. They really show when she's shaved and her skin is clean! She's had a rough life!

Since she was shaved, I noticed that the bump I mentioned a few posts ago is right where she had her ligament surgery. It is in the exact spot where her stitches were. I wonder if that's a coincidence...

I rode her today too and she was a good girl. She's really doing well with the long and low and she calms right down when I take her in a circle. We're still working on it at the trot, but I can tell all the bending and circles are really helping her. I did some cantering again today and she just feels a lot smoother. She feels more balanced and less all over the place. Her transitions are still crazy and I was really trying to work on them today. We did quite a few transitions and she still LEAPS into the canter every time, but she's getting used to having my legs on her more, so once she's done thinking any leg means canter, I'm sure we'll make some progress there. :)

Hopefully we'll be able to ride in some classes on Saturday! I'm optimistic that we might get some ribbons!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spook-tastic!

So I haven't been able to ride much lately because we had an out of state visitor at our home and my lesson on Tuesday got rained out. I did manage to visit Lilly on Saturday to try out her new fly sheet (which was too darn small!! darn it!!) but I didn't ride. I noticed that my sweet, precious Lilly has started rubbing her tail already this year. The fly sheet I picked out has a really big tail flap, so I'm hoping it helps protect her tail this summer. Maybe it will still look like a tail by the end of the summer.

I went back out Sunday to ride and things went quite well. She was bending nicely and trotting pretty consistently. The only thing that was lacking was her upward transition, which is nothing new. I really need to work on those, but I can't seem to find a way to keep her from acting super pissed when I ask her to trot or canter. I suppose more work and more practice is the key... I also noticed that she doesn't have a lot of heel on her left front hoof and the bulbs are very close to the ground. Counter clockwise seems to be her more difficult direction, and I wonder if she's a bit uncomfortable on that hoof. Her right front looks fine, so I'm trying to set up a time with the farrier to come out and perhaps put a wedge pad on that foot for her. We just can't seem to link our schedules and I don't want him coming out without me there anymore. That's happened the last 2 times and it's just not working for me.

She was doing so well that I figured we might as well canter. This is the funny part of the ride... So I asked her to canter while in a semi-small circle and the transition was awful as usual, but after about 4 strides she settled right in and was doing a WONDERFUL canter. It was smooth and collected-ish (as much as she can right now) and her head was down a bit, her back was rounding, and I was able to sit in the saddle for a change. We were in the groove! Meanwhile, near the gate of the arena, another boarder was bringing her horse in to ride. I had left the gate opened, so she didn't make any noise as she walked through the opening. When Lilly and I came around the corner closest to the gate, she caught site of the boarder and her horse and HIT THE BRAKES! She didn't do a sliding stop because that requires her to engage her hindquarters, but she stopped really fast, did an amazing rollback toward the outside of the arena, and hauled ass along the rail. I pulled her back around in our original direction, but she was having no part of that 'monster'. She had her head up and was snorting, while backing up as fast as she could. I tried to get her to go toward them but she wasn't moving. The poor thing was shaking! So I yelled at the girl to bring her horse in so Lilly could see that it was just a horse and as they walked in she stood trembling... It took her a good 20 seconds or so to calm down and realize that it was just another horse.

It was so funny! I guess she was really concentrating on our canter, so when she saw them it scared the living daylights out of her.

Poor pony...