Friday, April 29, 2011

Two More Great Lessons!

I had two more great back to back lessons this week. First on Tuesday I had my weekly lesson on Try. We rode outside for the first time since I started riding him, as when I first started it was still cold and then it happened to be bad weather lesson days once spring hit. He was very excited at this prospect, as well as, the fact we were sharing our lesson with R's boarder M and her horse Lance. We did more transition work and he is getting much better especially on his upward transitions to the canter. He is also able to hold his canter much longer. We did some more work on getting him round and on the bit.

We finished with pattern work. We did two figure eights, the first at the jog, the second at the lope with simple changes and finishing with a halt and back. His jog figure eights were perfect. He was a little slow on his transitions into the canter for the second figure eight, but once he picked it up did it well. The last few attempts were a little harder as he started getting lazy, plus I think had to poop but just wouldnt of course. It was hot and he hadn't been out in the sand for a while so I can't blame him for tiring out. So it was a bit of struggle getting the canter transitions at that point, but we finished up with a decent one.

His owner plans for him to go home in the end of May, so our lesson time is almost up. While I am feeling much more confident about riding him after much guidance from R, it will be strange doing it on my own. His owner said if I felt I needed more time that was fine by her. I told her we can discuss it with R as she would know best if we were good to go or not.

The second lesson was not my usual Wednesday lesson on my lovely mare, but a first ever western lesson for my handsome BF, aka JB. After the last horseshow H suggested bringing him down to R so she could give me some help. As usual R worked her magic and he was awesome, a total rockstar! She had me do transition work going into 3 steps jog then walk then 2 steps jog again to help slow him down. We started in a small circle then serpentined across the ring, then did a small square, before worked the entire ring trying to keep the jog. She showed me the best place to put my hands and way to ask him to drop his head and slow. Of course it worked fabulously. By the end he was jogging slower then even I thought he could and with his head nice and low! I was so proud! We did a little work on backing up which helped and turns on the haunches. We also practiced the horsemanship pattern from the last show, since the judge this Sunday is a freak about perfect patterns.

After the lesson I am feeling much more confident for the upcoming show this Sunday. I am going to ride him again later today to remind him. Hopefully over the summer we can get in another lesson or two with R to help move him along even more. She liked him and thought he definitely had the ability for it.

I will of course also be showing the princess pony, aka Satin, in speed on Sunday. She has been loving th hackamore and I think it will be just what we need to step up our game for Sunday. I will let you guys know how it goes!

Beach Ride!

I promised about a week ago that I was going to post about my beach ride and it slipped my mind so I will make up for it now.

Anyway so about two weeks ago, I went riding on the beach with a great group of friends and it was AMAZING. We went to Island Beach State Park which is open to horse back riders during the off season October 1 to April 30. This is something I have always wanted to do and my friends and I say every year we are going to book it and it never happens.

My friend H mentioned to me after the horse show that she was going riding on the beach with some of our mutual STB friends the following week. I of course said, "What?! I can't believe you are going without me!". Her response was that she had heard someone backed out and would tell our mutual friend who set it up I was interested. Well the next day our friend called me and said the spot was mine.

H, who as you all know is the owner of the wonderful JB aka BF, was nice enough to give Satin and I a ride. My friend K joined us to play the roll of photographer and off we went. It was about 60 degrees and just perfect weather for a beach ride. The night before it has stormed like crazy (really monsooned might be a more accurate description) so the water was loud with the waves crashing. This made the horses (all beach newbies, except Satin who hadn't been to the beach in 10+ years) a little nervous about the water. I got Sat pretty close but not really in. I think if the others had been a bit braver she would have done it but she was feeding off the herd. That was okay though, we will try again next time.

Anyway, we had an absolute blast! We had 6 miles of rideable beach and a great group willing to do it all. We did lots of trotting and cantering and had some great runs down the shore line. The pictures came out awesome! K is like my photography apprentice. (I will post some of them when I get home as I am posting from my interning office right now) We rode for about 2 and half hours. Thankfully my mare is in awesome shape and used to sand from our very sandy ring. Though, I am sure she was quite tired once she settled in on the trailer. Afterwards we had a little tailgating party in the parking lot with tons of food and drinks. We couldn't have asked for a better group or a better day and are looking to do it again in October.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2 Great Lessons!

I had two back to back and very good lessons this week. As you all know by now I absolutely love my trainer, the fabulous R. She has taught me so much and every time I am at her farm I learn so much. She knows about basically everything horse related, its amazing.

Anyway, so on Tuesday I had a lesson on Try. We are pretty used to each other now, so each lesson we get better and better. On Tuesday we did a lot of work with transitions going from trot to canter, canter to trot, trot to jog, jog to trot, to walk, etc. We also worked on trot / canter with his head down, framed up, using his back. He did very well. Then at the end we did some work on roll backs. It went along with our transition work: cantering down stopping, turning on the haunches, canter again, repeat. It was basically a slow version of a rollback as he is still green and working up to it. At the end we did some faster ones with him hand galloping, doing an almost sliding stop, and roll back. He was awesome! I told R I want him to be a reining horse. LOL

Yesterday, I had my bi-weekly lesson on Satin, along with our friend L and her mare Lexie, our lesson partners. Now I have to give the back story to what we worked on in this particular lesson. When running in speed events I have been using the regular tom thumb I use for everything else. I have noticed when looking at show pictures whenever I ask her to turn or slow down she open her mouth in a way that looks like I am really pulling on her which I am definitely not. R figured it had to do with the way the bit breaks, and that it might be pushing into the top of her mouth. This made sense to me, so I did a little further investigation. I talked to some barrel people I know and found none of them use this bit for speed. One of them even told me its one of the worst bit options for a speed horse. I asked around and got several suggestions then went back to R. She dug through her supplies and found two western bits she thought were worth trying. One had a similar mouth piece to the tom thumb but a different shank and the other was not a broken bit it was one piece, but jointed with a roller. Then I mentioned that my friend J who gave me the wonderful Satin used to ride her in a hackamore, which is what I used when I first got her. R's response was "Well then let's try that too". A little more digging produced a hackamore, the perfect size for my little mare. R instructed me to go home and do a little speed work with these at home and let her know what I thought worked best.

Well that was late Saturday and Sunday I went on a beach ride (which I will write about later) so Monday Satin got off, which left me Tuesday for bit trial. So I had R's 2 bits, plus my friend K's barrel bit, and the hackamore to try. I warmed up and did a barrel dash and keyhole run in the hackamore with my friend K observing. Then I went through each of the other three bits doing the same. Keyhole, on the rollback, is where she does it the mouth opening the most, so it was my best tell. Out of all the options the hackamore was the best. No mouth opening at all.

So yesterday I went to the lesson with the hackamore to learn the best way to use it. Satin loves it! She was awesome! She was nice and forward and raring to go. We did a lot of transition work especially canter to halt to canter and jog to halt to jog. R was trying to help us get used to the hackamore and figure out the best way to use it. Afterwards we did some pattern work involving serpentines, a roll back, and backing up. She was so hyper so the beginning was a bit sloppy. BUT, I intended to just to simple changes through the halt and after we did the pattern once she was do flying changes at each spot where I planned to simple and doing them perfectly. She was even doing them on a straight line without being asked just cnatering down the ring to do a rollback. We both have to get a little more used to the hackamore, but it is definitely our new favorite toy. R thinks she will be quite speedy wearing that at the next show. I am looking forward to it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

1st Show Results!

Sunday as I said in earlier posts was our first show of the season and it was fabulous!

Of course, I must start with my wonderful little mare, Satin. We did the speed and she was AMAZING. She was so on! We went into the ring and she was hopping up and down like 3-year-old, raring to go. I love seeing my "senior" mare excited and wanting to run. She ran all of her patterns perfectly and got great times, plus I was even holding her a bit because it was muddy in the arena. I couldn't have been any happier with her. We were reserve champions, 2nd in all of our classes. K and Satin's paddock mate, Jewel were grand. Jewel is faster than Satin, so a loss to them is basically a win to me.

Now onto the handsome JB, aka boyfriend. JB, who as you all know is a Standardbred, took 2nd in a class of 5 in model geldings and 4th in a class of 8 in open model. His stunning good looks paying off as usual. In his first ever western pleasure show, with only 5 western rides under his belt, we took 5th in the beginner horsemanship our of 11 and 2nd in the command class out of 10! We did not pin in pleasure as he was a bit fast or trail since he decided the board was still a little too scary. He was very hyper that day. His owner had ridden a few classes on him and he gave him quite a warm up and he was still raring to go. I was still very happy with him and quite proud, especially for his western show. We are going to keep working at it and I have no doubts he will be racking up even more ribbons as the show season continues. My friend H, who owns him, as offered to bring him down to R so I can take a lesson with her and get her help. We are also looking into more show options for him. :)

Here are some pictures from the show:

Friday, April 8, 2011

Show Season 2011 = T - 2 days

Show season is just two days away! As you can all probably tell by the fact that I went from hardly posting to posting twice in the same week LOL I am excited but also have time to write because I am sitting in my internship with nothing to do right now.

Anyway, so Satin and I had a lesson on Wednesday. We tested out out new western spurs which went well and did help. It started a little rough and we had some rough spots on our lead changes, but had some beautiful ones as well. We went inside at the end to try and fix the problem with the one change and I asked if I could some practice pole bending first. My trainer had 4 standards set up like poles from my last lesson on Try. We did and she was perfect, especially for not having done them in months and for them not really set up for real pole bending. My trainer was equally impressed asking How I could get every change flawlessly and do what she was trying to explain to me to do in the poles and not in the figure eight. My reply was because when I am doing poles I am not thinking about getting lead changes. The crazy mare seems raring to go for Sunday!

I also rode JB yesterday and we practiced some trail obstacles. We did the shoot which he did perfectly and knocked down the pole. Then we went for the bridge which he did not like last time he encountered it. It took a team of people and carrots but we convinced him and by the end had him doing it on his own with just be aboard. He looks like a million bucks so I have no worries for in hand. I am looking forward to the beginner western too. It will be fun.

I had a great lesson on Try last week too. We did more work on transitions and simple lead changes and did some pole work. R is basically teaching me how to train as she said, since he is a young, green horse and basically everything you do is a training opportunity, as well as, excercise. This is awesome because who better to get training tips and methods from then the best trainer I know.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Show Season Has Arrived!

Show Season is officially here! We are exactly 6 days from the first show of the season! This season Satin and I will once again be showing in the speed division. She has been geared up and ready to go all week. She has been very hyper, which is a good thing for speed. Also, our flawless lead changes are back! It seems our chiropractic worked because our last lesson went great! Satin was a rockstar! We have another lesson this week so looking forward to that and some show prep. We need to work on our rollbacks again. We practiced the other day, and she did well. We just hadn't done them all winter before that.

So back to show season. Anyway, I am also showing my friend's horse I refer to as boyfriend in model (which he is already a rockstar in) and beginner western. It will be his western debut and I am pretty excited about it.

My last two lessons on Try went good as well, especially the last one. We did some work on patterns (figure eights, pole bending, etc) and simple lead changes. We are both getting better and better each time. His owner got him a new saddle so I am trying to get the hang of that. All horse people know breaking in new leather, especially tack, stinks. We have our next lesson tomorrow so looking forward to that.

Here is hoping to good weather on show day!