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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Renvers Right

I have been neglecting the blog a bit lately. So to catch up on what we have been working on I can pretty much sum things up with one word- Renvers!

To help with the suddenly heavy Gram, Ryan has been having us work Renvers. Over the weekend a light bulb went off for me. I have been getting on with "guns blazing" ready to make her light in the shoulder and higher in the pole. Well, she is a mare, I should have known better and created a problem for myself. I am pretty sure that this was my doing. Sure she was probably sore one day, and I pushed to hard, but instead of relaxing I tried to force it. Well last night the light bulb went off for us both. After starting tight, after about 15 minutes, she was back to normal. Now I just have to make sure I don't get back into it with her.

As I mentioned we have been spending a majority of our time practicing renvers. Last night our lesson gave us some great exercises: On the circle to the left, renvers right until she gives, then slowly take her back to true bend. Canter and then trot landing into renvers. Hard , but helpful. Then he added a couple of elements once she was giving in the base of her neck and jaw. Center line, renvers then baby half-pass back to renvers and continue until out of room :). This was a great exercise for her. She actually buckled down and enjoyed the challenge!

So tonight I will be doing bits of the same, to prepare for my lesson on Thursday. the great news is that both Zion and Gram will head to Silverwood in June. Gram will debut at first level. Zion will debut at training level test 1 with Ryan. And the best part- the Dressage Queens will be re-united :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lighter shoulder- no horse diving please

Our lesson this week was focused again on getting Gram lighter in her shoulder and engaging her hind end more. This means she is not allowed to dive down in transitions. The lesson wasn't super high intensity, but I guess they cannot be all the time. I am working on getting my leg a bit quicker. The important exercise that we used was the following:
Walk, nice and collected- when needed engage the inside hind by asking for a couple steps of turn on the forehand. Once the walk is good, meaning active and no locking in under her neck or jaw and NO DIVING, ask for a trot. Slow is OK so long as she doesn't dive. If she dives, wait until she gives and then walk and repeat. If she is good at the slower trot, start to ask for a bigger trot maintaining the lightness. Same thing goes for the canter. It is all about making her and keeping her light.

Ryan said Zion was a bit distracted. He was very looky. Which makes sense since he is now getting comfortable, he notices what is different.

In other good news we will be bringing both Zion and Gramarye to the first Silverwood show. It is still yet to be determined who will ride Zion. The non-compete fee is the same as riding in one class, so we will sign Zi up for a ride on Sunday and school the rest of the days...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Under the weather

My Grammy bear is a bit under the weather this week. Sunday I had a great lesson with Ryan. He didn't kick me off the horse, so I thought that was a good sign. Sunday evening, I was at home cooking dinner (a yummy meatloaf and scalloped potatoes), when my phone rang. It was the barn owner telling me that Gram was lethargic, not eating and had an elevated temperature of 101. Gram's normal body temperature is about 98 degrees- which is low. Gram is also 17.1 hand mare, so food if of the utmost importance to her! Then barn owner knows this and took the appropriate steps. It is funny, because I have always told them, I would prefer to be the last one to know. First call to vet explain symptoms, then give treatment suggested by vet (most of the time Banamine), then call me to tell me what steps were taken and if I need to hop in the car and camp out at the barn to monitor. For me, I would rather them catch a colic, try to stop then call me. Her health is more important to me than being in the "know". They did everything listed above, monitored her and her temp was down to 99 one hour later and she started to munch again. The vet didn't think she was colicing, just not feeling well perhaps a cold.

I came out to the barn after work yesterday. Gram looked good. She was alert, munching on bits of hay and happy to see me. I brought her out, and said to myself that I would tack her up and sit on her- if she was lethargic I would hop off. I got on, and she was good. I only did a little walk, trot and canter. After about 15 minutes, I called it good just in case she was fighting a bug. All was fine. She is a mouthy horse, so after we were done (she didn't even break a sweat where the saddle was), she stood in the cross ties and groomed me. She does what I think is cute and what other probably find strange, she starts by muzzling my back, then licks, then muzzles, and licks. It is very sweet. After our quality time was up, I took her back to her stall, and proceeded to clean tack and pick up after myself (I tend to leave a trail!).

I was just about to leave, but I always give both Gram and Z a good night pat. I walked towards her stall and couldn't see her, I look in and she is laying down... Of course my heart begins to skip beats. While she is down, I walk around her petting her- she is looking very alert, like "hi mom I is tired but come on in!" I of course see, "why did you ride me when I was not feeling well just yesterday..." So I listen for gut sounds- there is a lot going on. I think for my benefit she also lifted her tail and passed gas. Again "mom I am fine, look I farted, everything is fine, I is just tired". Still I am nervous, so I get her up. She stands up and yawns and starts looking for treats. I took her temp again and it was normal. She didn't look uncomfortable, just tired. So I left her alone to sleep the night away. No calls this morning, so I am betting she is just a bit under the weather. Still when they cannot talk it is scary.

Ryan Rode Zion- he said he was good, just a bit stiff to his good side (the right). I am excited to see him go on Thursday and hopefully Gram will be feeling good enough to take our lesson.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

This Sunday was a double treat- Mother's Day and my Mom's first ever Ryan Yap lesson!

Now Zion is my mom's horse. He is in Chicago for the summer to get some training under his belt. Zion was born at my parents farm- he is my mother's 4th child. You know the little boy favorite? To give more of an idea of the bond mom and Zion have, my mom called me more times last week and the week before worrying about Zion than she did when I went away to college, or when I lived in Greece for 4 months. Love you Mom! In all seriousness, they have a cute bond. Mom has her own barn, and her own outdoor arena behind the house. I think the only person she has ever ridden with is me, or one of the neighbors. Mom and Dad were planning to come to Chicago, so I told mom, she should take the lesson from Ryan. Wednesday, I get a phone call. Very serious mom, trying to argue that it will be better for Zion if I ride him in the lesson. Now, I am not an expert, but I don't need help with Zion from Ryan just yet... so I tried to explain to my mom. She wasn't buying it. We had the same conversation on Thursday. Then on Saturday, once she actually got here, she agreed to ride Zion with my help. Things went well. We worked on her hands, and controlling his tempo. She did an excellent job, once we had a few laughs about how hands are not supposed to post with you.

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday... We were at the barn by about 8:30am, lessons were happening, with some of the ladies at the barn. I thought it would be good for my mom to see then ride. She was NERVOUS! Pacing around, trying to come up with a last ditch effort on why she thought she wasn't worth a lesson from Ryan... As the lesson time approached, with soem coaxing from dad and MaryLou she went and got Zion and started tacking him up. She agreed that if Ryan got on him first, so she could watch she would get on once he was finished.

I walked around with her, in what Papa Leon referred to as being a protective mother hen. It was time for her to get on... Ryan was a great teacher to her- not that I am surprised, and my mom made me very proud. She rode like a champ! She listened, asked questions and even made a couple of jokes...

I didn't think they would canter- and once she started she didn't want to stop. I thought she would panic once the two other ladies entered the arena, but she just dug in and kept riding. So to my mother- I hope you had a wonderful mother's day, and I want you to know how very proud of you I am! You have done a great job with Zion and it is about time that you started getting lessons! I look forward to watching your lessons this summer.

For your enjoyment I present Paulette Kotlarz and her first lesson with Ryan Yap, on her "home grown" 2004 Dutch Warmblood gelding out of Olivia (E'Sops Fable) and by Pallas (Darwin) - "Zion":

Friday, May 7, 2010

Blow to the ego

As I mentioned in the previous post, Gramarye has become a bit heavy in the hands. I am not sure where it all stems from, I just know that one day I got on and she was locking up. It literally happened that quickly. I have been struggling to fix on my own. Last night, I had my Ryan lesson. The adjustment from being a young rider, to an adult professional in business is very difficult. The most difficult thing that I had to deal with last night was the reminder that I am not as effective as I once was... This is hard for me to even type out. I started this blog for a reason. To record the journey, my journey to once again be a competitor. Last night I got a harsh reminder that sitting behind a desk all day is very different from my days as a working student slumming around in a barn. Is it true that the grass is always greener on the other side? Because sitting at my desk I long for the days that I was slumming in a barn, taking order from wealthy women when they actually showed up to ride their 100K+ horses... I long for those days, because "the ladies" only came out once or twice a week. When they didn't show, I got to ride those 100K+ horses. Back then I disliked taking orders from the ladies, but took care of their fancy horses as if they were my own. Well, now I sit in a chair, albeit a nice Aeron chair, behind a desk (or sometimes from home in my PJ's) yearning to go back to the days when I rode 1-8 horses per day.

Last night I was struggling with Gram- not normal, but just the stage she is at in her training. But I wasn't able to use my aids in the way that I once was. I struggled for about 20 minutes. Told Ryan I was frustrated, tried once more, and then I heard the dreadful words I once used on "the ladies"... Ryan said, "Let me get on, so I can feel what is going on..." Shot through my hears and straight to my heart... I of course translated that to "God you are frustrating- why can't you just do what I am telling to, move that leg quicker, release the right rein 1 second sooner- get off the damn horse and let the expert fix the problem you created... you AMATEUR!" In other words, it sucked! Luckily the ride wasn't a walk in the park for Ryan, so it wasn't a mere 5 minutes, and get back on. It was more detailed then what I thought it was going to be. Granted, this isn't the first time Ryan got on Gram, but it was the first time Ryan said, let me get on her. He is a much stronger rider than I am, and rides many different horses. I ride one, and recently started riding two, but that is dependant on so many factors- work, husband, life in general. I am a slave to the Blackberry and a double phone toting gal. One for work, and an iphone for personal use. My work Blackberry is a like a four letter word at home. If I say I need to check that buzz, Donnie gets mad. It is hard for me to do things half assed. I work hard at work; I work hard at the barn. So knowing that I cannot fix a problem on the horse, is a hard pill for me to swallow.

One thing that will stand out for me, is that I need to work harder. I am striving to be the rider I once was- not that I was Courtney King- Dye or anything, but I at least felt effective. Last night I felt lost. But it was fun to see Ryan work the beast :) So this is my first not so great feeling post. Hopefully my post after Sunday's lesson will be better!

The exercises learned last night:
Turn on the forehand, trot, turn on the forehand back to the walk. The right needs less bend, the left needs more bend... The left needs the right to give sooner, and left leg quicker. Try not to twist the upper body and sit too much to the inside. Same in canter to trot to walk. All on the circle.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Ry and Zi's first ride

Yesterday I was able to duck out of work a bit early and head to the barn to watch Ryan ride Zion for the first time. Since I do not have time to ride two during the week, Ryan will be taking over Zion on Tuesdays and Thursday, then I will get lessons on Gram on Thursday evening and lessons on both on Sundays.

Ryan is a man of few words... it probably didn't help that he had just arrived home from a week of horse shopping in Europe the night before. Zion was a little wiggle worm to start. This is pretty standard for him. After about 5 minutes Zion was ready to learn. You could see him process things... Ryan would ask for a half halt, Zion would stop, then move off, then get faster, dive to the rein a bit, then finally a glimpse of a little front end wait for the back end and try to work together. His ears were to the sides ready for his next task. The motorcycle racer canter wasn't bad- so I of course told Ryan I fixed it before he got there :) I wish I had remembered my camera! They looks so nice... Ryan with his long legs and Zion with his. They are the Ry and Zi team. They had a few moments of fancy dressage.

At the end of the ride- about 25 minutes and Zion drenched, Ryan had finished the first ride. I asked what he thought- and didn't get much. He said he is green- which is true... he said he was weak, also true because he is green. His canter needs work. He has a nice trot and he is really willing to learn- a good mind. That was it. Gotta love him.

So, then I rode Gram. She was good. We are kind of at a turning point. We have been trying to work on the connection- riding more in a second level frame. We have been working on trot halt, and instead of her wanting to fall down on the forehand, to instead sit down behind. She now understands this, but she is becoming very heavy in my hands. I was talking to Paige last night, and she pointed out it is probably a balance thing; Gram trying to figure out how she is to balance her big body. A light bulb went off in my head... I think she is dead on, I am just not quite sure how to fix. This will be the first thing I bring up in my Ryan lesson on Thursday! I thought the transitions would help her to lighten up. But they are having the opposite effect. I am sure it is something simple and my next post will be all about the ah-ha moment that Ryan walks me through.