Friday, April 16, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
I tacked him up and decided that we would try and have a semi serious ride. We went about our normal warm-up. He was very stretchy for some reason, he kept stretching his head and neck down and stretching out his back. Ofcourse thing is a good thing, but it was odd how much he was really enjoying it last night. Even as we were cantering he would blow out his nose and stretch down and low. It was nice to have him so relaxed and feeling good. We then hopped over a few jumps at the trot in both directions and then cantered some low fences. None of the jumps were over 2'6" which was fine with me because I was going to work on shortening stride and lots of changes of direction. As we were cantering some simple lines I felt the bored Possum come out. He's smart in teh fact that he ahs this gamem figured out, but when he has something figured out, it usually means that he charges to the next obstacle with complete disregard for the rider. If he could talk he would be saying; "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing!" So that's when I really started asking for crazy turns and broken lines and such. I wanted to keep him on his toes and not anticipating where he was going. We did manage to execute some pretty tight roll backs and I was impressed that he stayed with it and didn't fight me too much. Then because he was still a little quick for my liking I asked for a halt in some lines, so that he would really listen to my aids and focus on me qand not always on the next jump. Then I would randomly let him canter down the line, but ask for a half halt to collect himself and he was listening much better, so much so that he sat right back on his haunches and was rpeparing for a halt when I gave him the gas to keep going, but in a smaller frame. That was when I knew it was working. I love it when things work out like I want them too.
After a good 30 minutes of working steady I let him end on a good note. He did knock one of the fences down from getting in a little too deep to it, which I had asked him to do, so that was no fault of his own. I would rather have him listening to me and hit the fence then ignore me and fly over it. He was fairly sweaty and so was I, so I walked him for a bit. He seemed pleased with himself. He had a spring in his step and a swing in his belly as his head was bobbing up and down (not in a lame way). So I brought him back in the barn and untacked him and brushed him and then gave him his grain for dinner which he was more than eager to eat. As he was eating, I just stood back and examined him. I'm kinda anal like that. I am always looking him over and feeling him for bumps or scrapes or anything new. His topline was nice and strong. His neck was developing nicely and his hind end had some good definition. When he was finished I put a rain sheet on, for the expected rain storm and threw him out and hayed them. When I left he was happily munching on a huge pile of hay, life is good!
As for the guy side of this blog, which I have not talked much about, nothing really big is going on. I still talk to Steve from R5 Sons Alaska as much as he is online. Our schedules can never seem to coincide for a visit, but I havn't crossed it off the list yet, just trying not to push things. I think it will happen, but not sure when yet. Bacisally I've just been doing my own thing lately. I've been really happy with myself and not "needing" a guy around. I feel like I'm really starting to come into my own and be comfortable with myself. That's not to say that some days I get kinda down about it, but the majority of the time, things are good in that department. The dogs are wonderful and as always are the best companions. Possum is going well and is healthy and we have such a great relationship. My job is going well and I'm happy with the progress that is being made this year. I am also participating in The Vagina Monologues at out local theater to help raise money for our center and I really believe in the project. If any of you are familiar with The Vagina Monologues, I am performing in the "My Vagina Was My Village" The story of a Bosnian girl who was raped repeatedly by military personel in the 90's It's a pretty powerful monologue. In my heart I really wanted to do "The Angry Vagina" but there must be a reason they choose me for the other one, so I'm going to do my best. The performance will be April 24th and 25th. Well I think that's about all. I also really want to work Aragon this weekend, the TB astud at the barn. He has had the entire winter off and everytime I see him I promise him that it will be soon that he goes back to work. His first few rides should be interesting since he can be quite a character and a studly boy at times, but I love him. Well have a great weekend everyone and hopefully I will have some more pics soon.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
On Saturday I took Possum out and he was already slightly sweaty just standing in his paddock. He is slowely but surely shedding out his winter coat, but it doesn't seem like it's happening fast enough. So because he as naked he was flithy from laying in the mud and such. Three quarters of his paddock has been fenced off so that the grass can gross and the rest of the paddock can completely dry and not get all tracked up by the horses. So it's pretty muddy in their little section. I spent over half an hr grooming him and using the shedding blade and making him as pretty as he can be this time of the year. I tacked him up and headed down the road since it was my mission to go out on the trail on such a beautifuul day. Both of us were happy to be outside and moving in the breeze. We did our warm-up and trotted for a bit and then walked since it was so warm, and then we started cantering. It was so nice in a light seat just cantering along and we worked on our flying changes. We cantered for probably a good four minutes before I pulled him up and we walked the rest of the way to out next dirt road. I made myself look around at the pretty scenery and take big breaths of the fresh air and just soak it all in. Listening to his hoofs hitting the ground, feeling the swing of his belly and watching his ears pricked twitching in one direction or the other listening to the sounds of the outdoors.
He definately knew where he was and swung onto the other dirt road. A road that we are famous for galloping up. It goes gradually up hill the entire way and is about a mile long with sweeping turns and grades. I made him trot for a bit and then canter. He was grabbing at the bit telling me he wanted to just go. I was nervous because we hadn't been on this road since the late fall and I havn't inspected it for soft ground or added rocks and such. So I let him out, but kept a firm contact on him. His strides ate up the ground and his hindquarters powered him up the hills. Just to feel such power is amazing, it takes your breath away. The trees were whipping by and with each bob of his head it seemed like we were going faster and faster. I kept a sharp look out on the road for rocks and soft spots and piloted him around the hazards. Pretty soon the road was coming to an end so I pulled him up and let him trot a few before finally walking. He was pretty wet and breathing hard. I let out the reins and let himm walk out until the dirt road ended. The trail then becomes pretty steep and very rocky and was especially wet this trip. I let him pick his way around the rocks and take his time while he also caught his breath. When we got to eh top and the barn was in sight across a large field I let him trop a bit before the ground got too wet and soggy and I made him walk. We walked the rest of the way home and he was thoroughly soaked fromt eh heat and his still long coat. I stripped him down and decided that since it was stilla round 75 out that he would get his first official bath with soap and everything today. I tied him to the wash rack, dug out my horse shampoo and a bucket and sponge and a curry and got to work. He put up minimal protest so I think it felt good for him. When I was done I scraped the water off as much as I could and let him loose in the sun to eat scraps of hay and dry out.
I watched poeple riding for about an hour and then caught him and put him back in his paddock. It was just so nice to be outside in the warm air, with no bugs yet and enjoy my horse. SO Sunday I didn't ride since it was Easter and I had laundry to wash and family members to visit. Yesteday I didn't get to the barn and not sure if Iwill tonight since it's kinda rainy. But I might go up just to clean him up again since he's still naked since the weather has been so mild. But that's about it for rides lately. All the other rides have just been mediocre rides in the ring outside with nothing really exciting to post about. have a great day everyone, and hopefully i'll have more exciting thigngs to post about and hepefully some more pics as well.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
This week I decided to ride bareback again after a few flat rides under saddle. Basically I was kinda in a hurry and wanted to get down to the arena and ride with everyone else who were already in there. We did our warm-up the same and then cantered around and laughed and joked. Then we started popping over some small jumps and a one stride line. When we started cantering them Possum was great again. No rushing, and took each one in stride an even in the one stride he really half halted on the landing and made it a nice one stride. It was so warm in there that the horses were sweating already. My roomie decided to put one diagonal fence to about a 3'6" vertical. I have to admit that I kinda gulped hard but decided to go for it. How am I going to get any better if I'm not going to try new challenges. To mu suprise, I saw my spot about 4 strides out and we took the jump in style and it seemed almost effortless. I think everyone watching was a little suprised how easy it looked. SO I did it a couple more times with the same results. Then I decided to really challenge up and take it from the long approach, an approach that Possum is infamous for rushing. Because I was sucking back I made his canter stride too small and we didn't have enough impulsion and ended up getting a close spot and going up and over, not terrible by any means, but not that "perfect" take off. So I did it again and made myself relax more and trust myself to let his stride out. He was perfect and took it in stride. I was so proud of him, but it also made me really sit back and evaluate our rushing problems under saddle, will have to look more into that for sure.
Riding and jumping bareback did increase my confidence after a few lack luster performances which was good. I need to remember that not everyone can canter a 3'6" fence bareback and make it look so easy and also keep a good position, and give myself credit when credit is due. So tomorrow I will put the saddle back on, but try and have the same mind set and feeling as I did bareback and shoot for the same results. Wish I had some pics to show you, because it did look really nice and my position felt really strong as well, maybe next time.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Onto the good stuff... I had a totally horse filled weekend and it was awesome. My roomie and I scheduled a lesson with the barn owner. It will be my first official lesson in about 5 years, since I graduated college. I figured it was about time and since I had a little extra cash it was a perfect way to spend it. So Friday in preparation I wanted to give Possum just a tune up and get his muscles working again since he had about 5 days off since our last ride. I thought he might be a little hyper, but I was totally wrong. He was sluggish to start, was behind my leg which I HATE and rather pissy. By the end of the ride he had warmed up out of it, but what was going to be a 30 min ride turned into a 90 min ride, with jumping and turns and flying changes and circles etc... Since he is not clipped it took a couple hours for him to cool out to put his blankets on and throw him back outside. After taking care of our horses the roomie and I went to the movies to see Crazy heart. Really liked the movie, and want to buy the soundtrack, I liked almost all of the songs. It's a slower movie, no big action or anything, but I'm not a big action movie fan anyways, I like movies that make me think and feel, and this was a good one for that.
So Saturday I ate a big late breakfast and got dressed in breeches and tall boots and wore a vest that would match my saddle pad. I know it sounds crazy, but when I was taking lessons in school it was a serious business. You had to dress like you were showing, minus the jacket and shirt. Your boots and britches had to be clean and everything had to be perfect down to the horses grooming and leg protection. No joke, the riders and horses were both "inspected" when our trainer arrived to make sure everything was correct, and if it was not right you could be kicked out of the lesson for the morning or told to completely untack the horse and start over. Ypu didn't mess with the trainer, and since were were ridig horses who were worth more than us, we did what we were told, so that has just been ingrained in my head.
The lesson went really well. We worked on some lengthening and shortening of strides on a 20 m circle with poles set out, trying to get 4 strides, 5 strides and the 3 strides. We actually managed to get he 4 and 5 strides relatively easy but the 3 was a little crazy. I kept trying to throw him away and losing the contact and he would just speed up more and not necessarily lengthen his stride. I thinkn the exercise was a lot harder on a circle then it would have been like on the long side of the arena. It was a good lesson for both of us. I also worked on not throwing the contact away while jumping a fence. I tend to give him too much rein, and now that we are more advanced I need to use a following hand more often to keep the contact so that on the landing of the jumps he comes back to me sooner and that leaves more time to prepare for the next jump or turn. Lastly we worked on rhythmn and pace in a sinple 2'6' line working on my position and the overall picture. We ended the lesson on a good note and both Possum and I were puffing. It took a long time to cool him out since he had worked up such a good sweat, after walking our horses out and covering them with a cooler, we left them int eh barn with some hay while we went and grabbed dinner and by the time we got back they had cooled out, gave them a good curry and then threw them back out.
Sunday I managed to go to the barn again. I spent an extra long time on warm-up since I figured he would be pretty sore, but again he suprised me and wasbasically bouncing along to the indoor. He was full of energy and was really using his body during the short ride. I didn't want to do too much jumping since we had a hard ride the day before so we worked on lengthening and shortening trot and canter, and just the quality of the gaits. He was soft and responsive and I left the ride feeling really good.
Yesterday I had off from work due to the holiday so I wanted to have a "fun" ride on Possum. We went down in the indoor to warm-up. A bunch of people were riding so we did our usual flat and then hopped over some smaller jumps. Then I took Possum down the road to have a good gallop. The conditions were perfect, the temps were above freezing and that made the dirt road soft and slightly wet. As soon as I got up in my half seat he shot forward. I stayed as still as I could while his legs worked like pistons. His ears were pinned and his head kept reaching for more, like the finish lie was going to approach at any minute. I love that feeling of going so fact that it takes your breath away. Before I knew it we were running out of running room and I started to ease him up. I let him trot out for a bit and he snorted and blew through his nose. I think he was happy too to get out and stretch his legs, it has been a long time since we had a full out gallop. We walked the rest of the way home to cool out and just enjoy the scenery. When we got back I rubbed him down and then threw him back outside. I left the barn to go to my friends barn were we ended up going on a sunset trail ride. It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. The sky was so red and pink right before dark, and the air was still and cold with the only sounds being the crunching of the horses in the snow and their tense breaths. It was one of those riedes that you breath deep and am thankful just to be alive and enjoy this greatness. For a split second it made me forget that I didn't have a guy to share it with and was totally content in just being in the moment.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
So I groomed and tacked him up in record time in the main barn since it was soooo cold. So e made our way to the indoor and refuge from the wind. I hopped right on and away we went at a walk. When I first get on my horse is the time of when I asess how he's feeling and his energy level, I can tell at once how the ride is going to be based on those factors. He had a spring in is step and was well in front of my leg so I was happy that this looked to be a promising ride. After our normal warm-up routine, walking for 10 min or so and then trotting in both directions for another 10 min and then cantering both directions for another 10 min or so. During the warm-up I worked on some shoulder in and leg yielding just to get his body warmed up and more pliable, as much as possum can be. We then trotted a few crossrails and went right into the meat of our work out. I asked him to trot some fences that were around 2'9 or 3ft, asking him to get in deep to them and really making an effort to snap his knees up and using his neck and back for a nice clean jump. Only once did he knock it down and I really think he just misjudged the height of the fence and knocked it a good one so much so that he tripped on the landing. No need to reprimand him on that one because I think he got the hint and the next time we jumped it he made sure to clear it by a large margin.
As were were cantering some fences and putting mini courses together, a boarder at our barn was riding her QH mare at the same time. On a walk break both Possum and I were puffing and the woman made the comment that it looked like I wasn't having to work as hard keeping him at a normal pace and put together. My eyes about bugged out of my head when she said that. You have no idea how much that means even for one person to say that. Possum is not an easy horse to ride and make it look pretty. He's hard to keep packaged together and moving in a balanced manner. I usually use the analogy that he's like driving a dump truck on a highway of sleek moving Mercedes and Audi's. Hearing that comment was nice because it meant that all the hard work we'er been putting in lately is starting to pay off, even if one person notices it, it's working. We finished up by jumping a small course of about 6 jumps and then cooled out. After a few walk laps around the arena I had the bright idea of walking around outside along the paddocks and making a loop back to the main barn to untack. Big mistake, when we made it back to the barn my feet were frozen, I couldn't feel my ears and my face was wind burnt. I untacked Possum and gave him a few treats for a job well done and then bundled him back up in his blankets and threw him outside.
So to conclude....it's rare that Possum and I get compliments of any kind, but when it happens around a specific area that I have been working so hard on, it feels like I just won the lottery. Even though this year it looks like we will be doing very few shows because of finances, it's nice to know that we are still working towards a goal and slowly taking small bites towards that goal. It was like a breath of fresh air blew on us and filled our tanks of otivation so that we can keep going in our education.
Monday, January 4, 2010
So the roomie and I lounged around the house for most of the weekend expecting enormous amounts of snow which did not come, but it kept snowing so it scared us into staying home. Yesterday I woke up and was determined to make it to the barn. I look out my window and finally the blizzard has arrived! SO I pick the snowiest day to go to the barn. I got dressed in snow pants and jacket and mittens and hat and herded the dogs into the car. Away we went, down the road at a snails pace. We arrived at the barn a half hour later when it's usually a 15 min drive. It was snowing and blowing so hard that it was coming down sideways and pelting my face. I grabbed Possum's halter and headed for his paddock. It took about 10 minutes of digging out his gate so that I could open it enough for him to squeeze through. We were both squinting our eyes against the driving snow. I'm pretty sure both of us were happy to finally make it to the barn. I stripped off his blankets and gave him a good grooming, one to get the dirt out and two, to stimulate some blood flow in both of us. I tacked him up and we headed for the arena. I could tell he had some pent up enrgy since it had been just a eek since i ride him last, i felt like a bad horse mom.
We took a while warming up since it was cold and snowy and both of us were kinda stiff. He was moving nicely off my leg and I didn't even have spurs on. I worked a lot on stretching. Getting him to reach down and out and stretch his neck and back. Possum is a pretty stiff horse generally so it always takes a little to get him to stretch, but he was actually doing well. After we had warmed up in both directions at the walk, trot and canter I decided to refresh us by doing some flying changes across the diagonal. As usual, his good side was a piece of cake, but to my suprise his "bad" side was also really good. He didn't rush or twist his body and he did nice clean changes both front and back in unison each time. I was so happy!
We just fiddled around with jumping. There were some pretty big holes and soft sport in tne arena from having some slightly frozen ground and being chewed up. So my plan was to warm-up and then just put one jump up to around 2'9" or 3ft and just keep working over that one jump focusing on my position, rhythmn, pace and straightness. I noticed that going to the right he has a tendency to drft towards the rail over the jump, since the jmp was set about 8 ft off the rail. So we worked a lot on keeping him between my legs and straight and even. I also had to work on not leaning in on the corners especially in my "bad" direction which happens to be to the right. All in all it was a good work out and I think we were both happy with it. I cooled him out and brought him back to the barn. I kicked myelf in the ass for forgetting a whole bag of carrots that I has bought special just for him the last time I went shopping. I gave him his grain for dinner and then we made the long trek back to his paddock where I had to do some more digging to get the gate so that I could squeeze him through. I was all out of breath afterwards and my ears no longer had any feeling. I really don't mind the snow, it's actually very peaceful looking and sounding, but snow just makes everything 10 times harder to do. Harder to push a wheelbarrow, harder to drive, harder to ride at fast speeds etc... But the good news is that the snow has stopped and I'm waiting for the sun to shine. I hope to get out and ride my horse more this week, but again that depends on the temps and the weather. Unfortunately I don't get put of work until after 4 and it's waaay dark when I get to the barn so the temps have dropped a lot. Ohwell, suck it up, I live in Maine and I should be used to this by now.