Monday, August 29, 2011

Taz and Try Update

I ride Taz every Tuesday and Thursday and last week I didn't post anything about him because we rode in the indoor both days so we just did basic walk, jog, lope rides, nothing major. On Tuesday I just worked on a nice slow jog and calm lope since his lope in the indoor the week before was quick and a bit erratic, plus I had a killer head cold so was not up for much work.

Thursday I was feeling much better and up to a little more challenge. We started with our nice slow, relaxed jog. Next, we did our canter in both directions, which he picked up quickly and smoothly and he settled right down into a nice calm, collected canter. Usually his first canter each direction is a bit quick, but today it was quite nice. Then I decided to work on the pattern R had given us a few weeks ago. We start by trotting a straight line down the ring, then picking up the canter in the turn, and cantering a three loop serpentine with simple lead changes through the halt. To finish, we continued cantering out of the serpentine and down the straight line we jogged in the beginning, halting and backing up. He did the serpentine and simple changes perfectly. His canter to halt was a bit crooked the first time or two, but we ended with some very nice ones.

I ride Try three times a week, the days changing according to my schedule. This week my first ride was on Monday. We were testing out a new girth since his old one was too small and neoprene was giving him rubs. His jog was very nice as it usually is. It was cool and he was feeling good so we did a lot of canter work. His canter transitions were fabulous. His canter was very good too. It was a bit quick in the beginning but I was able to quickly bring him back and get a smooth, easy canter. We also worked on his collected canter, which he is doing better and better each time. He goes right on the bit when asked, goes into his headset and does what feels and I hope looks like the most beautiful canter. We also did some work on canter circles, which he did pretty nicely, as well.

My second ride was on Friday. We started with some medium trot work and very nice canter with great transitions. Then we worked on figure eights at both the trot and canter with halt transitions in the middle. His transitions to the canter in the figure eight were a bit slow but otherwise he did it very well. We finished up with some work on his slow jog with his head stretched down, which is one of his best things.

Unfortunately due to Hurricane Irene I did not get my third ride in on Saturday. I did go out to see him though and groomed him up. Afterwards we worked on tacking, which is not his favorite thing as I have mentioned. I tacked him up slowly with lots of praise, then I let him sit with the tack a few minutes, gave him lots of carrots then took it off. Afterwards I groomed his owner's other gelding and mini.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Another Overall Successful English Lesson

Yesterday I had yet another English lesson. It is becoming kind of a routine now. We did some basic flat warm up. Then R had set up 4 jumps in a small circle, which she put down into 4 piles of poles. We started with those trotting the circle then cantering it, which went well. We had done a similar exercise over the winter in the indoor.

After we did this a few times, she put the poles back up into small verticals. This made the exercise harder, a circle of small jumps may not sound hard, but anyone that has done it understands it is. You have to keep a consistent, even pace, have a good focus, and steady seat. It helped to slow Satin down. She did a nice collected canter all the way around.

To the left we did pretty well. My seat and eye were much more consistent and where they were supposed to be. To the right, was a little stickier. She kept taking the one jump that was facing the gate from the long spot and lunging, making it hard to get to the next jump because she was quick and crooked. At one point when she did this it got me all discombobulated and I between trying to fix myself and fix her to get her to the jump I inadvertently asked her for a whoa. I got her to the jump, but also got the whoa so she put on the brakes right at the jump and I went over it without her. Apparently it was quite a spectacular fall according to my witnesses. I basically did a back flip off of her and over the jump landed on my feet in a squatting position, with the reins in my hand. R said I looked like a vaulter. Other then a little whiplash I was fine. I climbed right back up and went and did the circle again.

I fixed my eye and got that part of the circle smoother and it rode better. We tried again one to the left and one to the right and she was a bit tired and got dull. I fixed my seat and got her into a more consistent pace and fixed that, but was still all discombobulated to the right and couldn't get it. R gave me some tips to fix my seat and between that and fixing my eye my next two times around rode very smooth and perfect.

We had a few bumps in the road, but it was all in all a successful lesson. Today we just did a light hack since we both worked hard yesterday and tomorrow we are hoping to go team penning since we haven't done so in a while.

Monday, August 22, 2011

National Standardbred Show

Yesterday was one of my favorite shows of the year, the National Standardbred Show. Even though I do not have a Standardbred I am very involved with the breed and have many close friends that own Standardbreds. As you all know, JB, who I have been showing and often write about is a Standardbred. They are an extremely versatile, talented, and quite underestimated breed. The National show really brings the Standardbred community together and shows what the breed can do.

They have every discipline covered from hunters and western to driving and dressage. Horses and riders from all aspects of the Standardbred world came out, including hall of fame racehorse Gallo Blue Chip. There were several horses still racing that competed, as well as, several big money winners pursuing second careers.

I showed the ever handsome JB in Showmanship, where we placed 5th, as well as, Geldings In Hand, where we placed 2nd to a very good looking gelding from Ohio who went on to win the National In Hand Championship. We had several members of SPHO Ohio join us this year for the National and they were a very nice group of people with some very talented horses. The girl who showed the winning gelding in hand came over to me after both of our classes to congratulate me on my placings and comment on JB's good looks (and she was not the only one to do so). I look forward to competing against them again next year. JB and I also managed to sneak into the command class where we took 5th.

I spent the rest of the day fulfilling my other horse show role: show mommy / photographer. My show mom duties usually pertain to JB's owner H, but at this show I have so many friends showing I have to stretch myself out a bit. H and JB are still my main focus, but I try to lend a hand to whoever else needs it, like my good friend L, who is my lesson partner.

Anyway, H and JB had a fabulous show. They competed in driving, equitation, and english pleasure. They won every class they entered except one, in which they received third. They were also supposed to compete in jumpers, which unfortunately was canceled due to a storm. The National tends to end every year with a storm, but at least we got the entire show in, except jumpers, before then.

JB also carried two other riders at the National. He carried a young girl in leadline. He also was the mount of Alex Brown, author of the book about the famous Barbaro, in the ride-a-buck class. It was Alex's first ride on a STB and they brought home the blue ribbon.

The other great thing about the National is getting to see old friends that you don't get to see regularly. Friends from Maine and Vermont traveled to the Horse Park for the National. We did miss our Kentucky friends though!

Everyone had a great show day and it was nice to see such a nicely turned out group of Standardbreds.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Awesome English Lesson Today!

For those of you who didn't get it from the title of this post, I had an awesome English lesson today! LOL! As I mentioned in my Satin update post, Satin & I have been expanding our horizons and taking some English lessons. She is becoming quite the little jumper pony!

Satin was absolutely perfect on the flat. She had a nice medium trot and a slow English pleasure canter. We started off with a few warm up cross rails, which she did nicely. Then my fabulous trainer R instructed me to make my own three jump course. I decided to do the straw jump to the outside line, a course we had done in our previous lesson. We did it a few times, getting better and better with each try.

Then R added a fourth jump, a cross rail made out of planks with some flower boxes. We did the same three starting jumps then I had to ride down to the end of the ring turn around a jump there and canter down the plank cross rail. She jumped it with no problems and much enthusiasm. The second time around I forgot about going to that jump and had turned to early, but I made it work and did a jumper turn and went right to it. The next two times I went for the same jumper turn, just for the fun of it LOL

After a few times of this course (which we did in both directions) R decided to make it a little more interesting and add a 5th jump. It was our warm up cross rail which was set to make a bending line from the plank cross rail. So, the first four jumps remained the same and we added the original cross rail at the end. She did it great but was quite the little speed demon going down the bending line as I expected because it was going toward the entrance of the ring and her paddock buddy who lessons with us.

My last few times around R wanted me to go back to the longer turn / straighter approach going into the cross rail bending line instead of my little jumper turn. Since I remarked I had only continued doing it because I liked doing the quick little jumper turn, she decided to give me an extra challenge and had my little jumper turn at the end going off the cross rail line, hard left to the straw. The first time of two I couldn't get there. It was a quick turn and between Satin's speed down the line and my eyes not staying up as much as they should it made it even harder. Finally on my third try, I gave it my all, adjusted my focus, and we made it work! It was a little rough getting in but we got there and got over!

These various courses gave me some time to work on my position too, especially in the first few lines where Satin was going nice and quiet. I have still have to practice, but I'm getting a lot better and more stable. I just have to keep R's voice in my head saying chest up, chin up!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Updates: Taz

Last, but certainly not least, we have Taz. As mentioned in my previous post, Taz is a Quarter Horse that belongs to my trainer's husband. When I first met R about 3 years ago, one of the first things she said about Satin was that she reminded her of her husband's horse if his blaze was flipped upside down. This is true if you look at their faces but Taz is built like a bull, very wide, unlike my petite mare. They have some similarities riding, as well. They both have bouncy trots, but great jogs. They both have comfortable, rocking horse canters and are both former reiners, with great transitions, and love to GO. Taz can get a pretty good spin going still. R let me try one time when we were riding together with him and Try. I hope to try again soon.

Anyway, when it came time for Try to be going home I was sad because it meant not going to Muddy Creek twice a week anymore. I loved all the extra time there. I learned so much from R during that time and it was just nice and peaceful. During my last ride on Try at R's place I mentioned how I was going to miss coming to ride there all the time. She said she had been thinking the same thing and then later while we were riding told me I was welcome to continue coming and ride Taz instead. Of course, I jumped on this opportunity.

I really like riding Taz. As I mentioned he is quite similar to Satin in a lot of ways, such as his way of going; smart, willing attitude, and like Satin when doing pattern work he always tries to be a step ahead. Unlike Satin though, he is quite sensitive. He was given to R's husband by one of his clients (he is a farrier) because they couldn't deal with him. The sensitivity R believes is from bad training. As I mentioned, he is quite wide so requires a special saddle. He was probably not being ridden in a properly fitted saddle so he used to buck a lot, both under saddle and in the aisle after being tacked. When he has the tack on he is afraid of everything. The slightest little thing makes him flinch, especially when first tacked. R broke him of a lot of this from what I heard, but he is still sensitive.

R says he is best when in a program so me riding him helps keep him going. He and I have gotten along just fine though. I figured out how to ride him quite quickly with R's help and have not had any problems with him. I have only seen him buck once with R, but when he bucks, he sure does buck! I am having a lot of fun with him though and look forward to learning more on him.

Updates: Try

We can't forget about Try. As I've mentioned in previous posts Try belongs to a friend of mine and was living at my trainer's farm, in full training with her. My friend approached me over the winter about riding him when he returned home, as she has a back problem that keeps her from doing much riding. I, of course, agreed and began riding him weekly at R's farm to prepare for the time when I would ride him on my own.

Well that time came in the beginning of July when he returned home. The last few weeks he was at R's I went from a weekly lesson to twice weekly supervised rides. Supervised meaning R and I rode together, her on her husband's QH, Taz and me on Try. We would both do our own thing in the beginning to warm up then we would work on something together like pattern work or pairs exercises. This made me feel fully confident in my ability when he returned home. It was weird and a bit lonely riding on my own, but Try and I have settled in to our new routine quite nicely.

We have hit a few bumps in the road, such as some extra nippyness and not being totally cooperative on cross ties in the wash stall at first and later during tack up, which is not his favorite thing to begin with. But, with R's advice we nipped those problems in the bud rather quickly and luckily he has been consistently great while riding.

R came out one day last week to watch our session and give us some guidance. She had one or two tips, but was very happy with my work with him. She got on and rode him a little too, so it was nice.

This photo was taken by Try's owner C during one of our sessions at R's farm.

Updates: JB

Next we have JB, aka boyfriend. As you all may remember, JB is my friend H's Standardbred who is quite the jack of all trades, basically the most versatile horse ever. This year we expanded his repertoire to include western pleasure, which he is a total rockstar at.

Unfortunately he is the horse I ride least as he is the furthest away, but we are still actively showing in model and western and he is kicking butt, if I may say so myself. He is better and better every time I ride him.

Two horse shows ago we were champion in open model against 12 other horses, most of which being Quarter Horses and Paints. He won both the gelding and open class. He has been consistently pinning well in open halter competitions all summer.

H, JB, and I after his Grand Champion win in Open Model.

He has been doing very well in his western classes too. As I mentioned he is better and better with every ride. He goes slower and puts his head lower every time. In our last horse show we were grand Champion against Appaloosas and Quarter Horses. He was 1st in pleasure horsemanship, and a very tough command class in which we backed basically a full lap around the arena. He received 2nd in trail which is his worst class since he is scared of everything LOL.

Some pictures from this summer:

Updates: Satin

First and foremost is of course my wonderful mare, Satin. She is still as feisty and young at heart as ever. We are a little more than half way through our show season now and she has been perfect. At our last show, which was last weekend she ran 3 absolutely perfect patterns. Her barrel turns couldn't have been tighter or smoother, her poles run was just about flawless, and her rollback in keyhole was right out of her reining horse days. The only thing that could have made it better was if she gave it a little more speed. She ran, but not as fast as she could, but I was still very happy with her. Other than our usual show series we have also done a gymkhana at a local fair and team penning.

We have also begun expanding our repertoire to (drum roll, please) ...... English. Yes, you heard me right! As you all know I have ridden english a few times on my horse and friends' horses. I even took an English lesson back in the fall, but between lack of tack and a fall over a jump, Satin and I took a bit of a hiatus from our english riding. I decided to give it a second try though and approached my trainer with the idea of an english pleasure lesson. Well that one english pleasure lesson has become a series of English lessons. My trainer has this very subtle way of getting me to do these things LOL. At the end of my lesson she will say something like "Next week when we jump, we will try this." etc. I think she is also secretly turning my pony into a hunter as she has not been slow enough for english pleasure these days LOL.

So far, so good though! Our last two lessons, Satin has been perfect and I have been trying my best to keep up with her :). My eq over fences needs work, but we are both still green to this whole English / jumping thing and with R's help we will be pros in no time. In our last lesson we jumped a mini course including a roll top and a hay bale jump. I'm quite proud of my little barrel pony.

In other Satin news, we moved to a new barn in mid-July. For reasons that are just way too much to get into we moved to the barn right next door. All of our friends moved with us though, and everyone at the new barn is very nice. We love it so far.

At the time of the move, because things were not crazy enough, Satin got a swollen leg. She has had this one or twice before but it did not respond to my usual treatment of hosing, walking, and wrapping. It started on a lesson day so I took to her R for evaluation. We walked and trotted her for a bit, cold hosed the leg, and R did a standing wrap. She also had not been finishing all of her grain for 2 or 3 days before this. She never spiked a fever but her temp fluctuated from low normal to high normal to mid range, etc. After 2 days with no change in swelling R suggested a vet visit. R is not one to sound the alarm unnecessarily so I did as suggested.

The vet tested her for lymes and suggested a hosing, furazone leg sweat, walking, and bute regimen. She also started her on doxy, an antibiotic for tick related diseases. Within two days, the leg swelling was down and once she was settled in her eating returned to normal, as well. The lymes test came back negative but she remained on the doxy for 10 days anyway. Whatever it was it seemed we caught it quickly and she is now back to her normal healthy self.

Some recent photos:

I'm Alive, I Swear!

I'm still alive, I swear! This summer has been extremely busy for me and unfortunately my blog was one of the casualties of that. I have been on overload between riding four different horses in four different locations, horse showing, pre-grad school stuff, photography, and something resembling a social life.

BUT, as you can see, I am coming back with a vengeance. I redesigned the entire blog from top to bottom, starting with a new name. College Cowgirl was no longer appropriate as I am now a proud college grad, so the blog was in need of a new name. I figured Live to Ride (which is already my blogger user name) was an appropriate title to sum things up. Yes, I am going back to school as I pursue my Masters, but I am also beginning my journey in the "real world". Riding will always be a part of that. Even though my career may not always be horse related, horses and riding will be always what I live for.

Along with the new title, I figured the blog could use a new look. So, I gave it a total makeover, including new photos on my sidebar.

I will also be adding some new posts to update you on my summer. I figured the easiest way is to break it up into separate posts for each of the 4 horses I am consistently working with, but I will sum this one up with general updates on me.

As previously mentioned I was accepted to grad school starting in the fall (YAY!). I will be attending the same University I attended for undergrad, which will remain nameless (sorry guys :) ). I will be pursuing a Masters in Communication, which I figured would nicely compliment my Bachelor's in Journalism and aid me in a career in the field of Public Relations or something along those lines. I still want to write and photograph of course and will continue to do so on a freelance basis and / or combine it with my newly learned Communications skills.

Speaking of writing and photography, I have been a bit of a slacker in the writing department. I have only written one freelance piece all summer, though I do have a second assignment waiting for me if I could ever find a break in my crazy schedule. On the photography front I have been quite active. I received a new camera for my graduation gift so I am not shooting with a Canon EOS 60D and I LOVE it! I redid my website with some new pictures. Check it out!

Some photos taken on my new camera: