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Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Tonight there were tornado sirens galore, which didn't allow me to go the barn. So instead of jumping right into the summary from yesterday's ride, I thought I would include a fun fact for today's entry.
When we bred Gramarye's dam Yce to Giotto, we then had to come up with a name that started with a "G"... So I reached to my late 90's love affair with alternative music. One of my personal favorite bands from that time was Remy Zero. They were not a mainstream band, but I had a friend that managed them and introduced me to their music. They were able to find moderate success with a few of their songs. After scouring youtube I remembered some of my favorites including, "Twister", "Shattered", "Save Me", "Perfect Memory", "Prophecy", "Hollow" and finally "Gramarye" (which the lead singer Cinjun Tate pronounces Gram-a-rye (like rye bread instead of like Gram-marie)... So your your viewing pleasure, here is Gramarye's namesake music video:

I spend the day today in pain from my lesson yesterday. I realized that we didn't have an honest free walk the entire time, and it also didn't help that it was about 90 degrees with no breeze. We worked on haunches in, center lines, leg yields and collected trot to mediums trots... The hardest was the shorter trot to the medium... Not fun for me or Gram. My legs were so tired I didn't even feel them by the end of the lesson. We ended with Canter work, where Ryan pointed out that I probably am working too hard to support Gram. She isn't heavy, but she needs me there every stride to balance and re-balance her. I need to start working on getting her a bit lighter, without having me help every stride.

I woke up in pain, and said pain continued throughout the entire day... Thanks Ryan! :p

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cowponies slide stop!

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of working with the baby Zion... He still makes me laugh, and it is a new thing each time I ride him. Poor Zion was mighty scared at the horse show, but he did learn one thing that weekend: When he goes down centerline, trot real purtty and then SLAM ON THE BRAKES! I half halted and did what I thought was going to prepare him to stop, and instead, he just slid into a halt. I busted out laughing and of course had to call Donnie over to witness this... I am sure it wasn't as entertaining watching him, as it was riding him. The second time down the centerline, I didn't even have to ask for the halt... it just happened. This was kind of a problem, since I wasn't going to stop, but again I laughed. His heart is in the right place, he just needs a bit more "street smarts".

The weekend was overall successful. Gram was great, we worked on some half-passes- so that was a new twist. She did tell me that she needed a good gallop though. During warm-up she bolted, but in a funny way. Not because she was scared, there was no big bang, she just had the need for SPEED. Again, I laughed, because the big mare told me what she needed and I obliged then we got to work.

Tonight is Ryan night... I made fruit salad. :) Next I have to work on the Lamplight entries!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Left-side angst

I had a great lesson last night. Ryan came out to the barn last night for lessons and my friend Andi was able to come out with her mom. We are really working on a new level of connection with Gramarye. Ryan gave me some new exercises, which of course took me a while to figure out what the heck he wanted me to do! As a side note, it amazing me how many exercises Ryan has up his sleeve. I would think that after working with him for so long, he would run out of things that are new... as a kudos to Ryan, he is a true professional in his work, he is continuously learning and always bettering himself as a rider and trainer. I really cannot say enough good things about him. If I had the money to sponsor him a fantastic big tour horse, I would do it in a heartbeat as I think he is just as good as Edward Gal- Ryan just needs a Totilas and I need to be a Vissar:)

At the show, we had trouble keeping the connection with the hind legs, especially in the medium trot. Gram tends to get out behind, and I am not setting her up properly. So last night we got two new exercises to practice:
1. Piaffe Square- Basically turn down the center line, at I shorten the stride, and make a 90 degree turn left towards the rail, maintain short stride and think almost like a piaffe pirouette, turn back towards center line. When approaching the center of the ring, turn right back on the center line and send the horse forward. We mirrored this in the other direction, sometimes from the same center line. It seemed to help her with her balance and to engage under instead of pushing out from behind. My attempt at drawing is directly to the left of this write up.
2. Controlling haunches on the diagonal line- Basically, this exercise is specific to our problem when crossing the diagonal line from the left to the right. I lose her hind leg, and her medium becomes uneven since her hind leg is so far behind, it had to travel that much further than the other. So I need to think smaller trot into the corner, might a tighter turn to the diagonal, all while pushing the haunches to the left without allowing her whole body to drift.

So apparently at Silverwood, Ryan noticed my funny habit with my left side. Anyone that has read my posts knows that my left elbow is the bane of my existence. That darn elbow has a mind of its own. Also, something funny happens when you go from riding in a double bridle, and taking a few years off, and then return into a snaffle especially if you already have issues like me :) My left pinky has forgotten its job! It separates and sticks straight out. He also noticed, that my left hand is opening and staying open to the left. I think my biggest mental block, is to try not to hold Gram ever! My Willy, who I love dearly, got to be very heavy. In my effort to avoid this with Gramarye, I have of course over compensated. Instead of maintain a nice contact, I am opening my entire hand and sticking my pinky straight out! I will work on these and hopefully by the end of the summer I will correct. Then that will allow me plenty of time to pick up more bad habits while Ryan is in Florida :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My new sofa saddle

I had my first couple of rides in my new saddle, and so far I love it. It literally feels like a sofa. It is soft and fits me well, and it hasn't been fitted yet. The only obvious problems that I see are: 1. I need to shorten my stirrups one hole and 2. It is a smidgen big for Gramarye right now. Good thing is that Natalie the Schleese saddle fitter will be at Lamplight at the end of July. Hopefully she will think the saddle is good and will work for my giant mare. The training rides this week have been more about me getting used to the saddle and less about Gram. So I do not have much of an update for that yet. However, I do have my Ryan lesson tonight, so I should have an update tomorrow. Hopefully, he will think that my seat isn't too bad. I have included a couple of fun videos:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Silverwood June Showshow Re-cap with videos

It was an eventful weekend at Silverwood! Zion got to attend his first horse show, and Gram got to show off that she is now a veteran.

We arrived to the show after about an hour of coaxing Zion to get into the trailer. Thursday was a schooling day, and all was well with Gram- Zion had to be lunged and he screamed the entire time- pretty much sums up his weekend. He probably doesn't have any voice left today!

Gram and I had great results at our first time out at First level. We tried new things this time around- we showed all the tests: Friday was First Level Test 1 68%, Saturday was our first time showing two classes in a day First Level Test 2 65.5% and First Level Test 3 70% we ended with First Level test 4 on Sunday with a 68%. I was so proud of my big mare. She really gets it, and I think was happy to be more challenged in the arena this year. We still need to improve, but I am excited about the progress she has made in just one year.

Here are the videos:

Zion's performance was similar to Gram in her first year- Terrified. He didn't bolt or do anything as naughty as Gram, but he did scream...a lot! He showed Training Level Test 1 with Ryan- His test marks looked something like this: 6, 4, 8, 4... and so on. The Judges remarks made me laugh "Horse seems very (underlined) green, but with training could be a very nice prospect." All true. He is very pretty and very flashy, when he is able to focus and pay attention. Not bad after just 35 days of training with Ryan and after being held back in Kindergarten.

The weekend overall was a success. I am excited to refine the tests with Gram, and really get a good idea for what Zion is capable of doing. He is very immature, and will probably always be this way. He is sweet and handsome, but not the sharpest crayon in the box.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Wishing I was a Young Rider again

Normally I try to use this blog to remember my training tidbits, but today I feel the need to get some venting out about the dreaded packing for a show. Last year I entered the world of horse shows in a whole new way than ever before. When I was growing up if school was still in session for the first couple of shows, I remember going to class, and then my parents picking my up with everything packed including the horse right from the main door of the high school. One time in particular, we were headed to the Washington International CDI. I wasn't worried I was excited. I shared the warm up with the likes of Robert Dover, Debbie McDonald and Michael Poulin- Heck I was competing against Michael's daughter, Gwen Poulin among others that are now in the rankings at GP. My point is, I would just jump in the truck, knowing that everything was there... well now I know what all my mother went through to stay organized and make sure that nothing was forgotten. Now I am the one that has to pack for me, Gram, Zion, Turi- luckily Donnie can manage to pack himself! Normally Mondays are my day of rest. The barn is closed, so I eat dinner with my husband (which is pretty much the only day of the work week that happens). Instead of relaxing last night, I was tearing my condo apart in search of my stock tie pin, doing laundry and making sure I had all my show clothes sparkling white. I was up until 12:30. So this morning, I woke up with a new found appreciation for my mother- sorry mom I know I am about 30 years late with this, but OMG how did you do this and stay sane???!!!

I felt like the more I tried to organize things, the more disorganized I felt... I wrote a list, and only got the show clothes packed, sans the stock tie pin, which I will still work on finding because I hate all the others! I actually think it might be in purse, from trying to use it with a scarf or something. I will try again tonight after the barn... and hopefully I will have a happy update on the lesson and the success of finding my pin.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Level Test Four- bum bum bummmm

I had my Ryan lesson on Sunday, which made the reality of showing next weekend set in for me! After a pretty good warm-up Ryan asked us to run throw First Level Test Four. I was nervous... I had looked at the test, and have been practicing my leg yields, but there is something scarey about actually having to make it all the way from X to the rail with a big mare!!! To my surprise we were able to make it, I don't think it was pretty, but gosh darn it we got the idea that there was forward and side ways! I was such a proud momma. Medium canter is coming along nicely too. I just have to remember that my 6 year old mare is not a young rider horse- no going for broke! It will be interesting to see how the medium canter pans out for us in an outdoor with no wall to protect us! We might be Hi- Ho- Silver away! Our stretchy trot is pretty horrid, so too bad that this has a coeffiecient, I will have to make up for that elsewhere I guess! Overall, our first time running through the test wasn't that bad. If I can pull a mid 60 out of them this weekend, I will be pretty happy. In order sad news, for the first time, since I have owned it, I do not think I will be able to figure out a way to get my beast of a tack trunk to the show :(. I am sure I will figure something out, but it is sad for me... The unexpected arrival of the baby Z has really thrown a wrench into my truck and trailer plans. My truck could handle Gram and tack just fine... but two giant horses and I think my truck might explode!

I am getting the butterfly nerves right now, and of course managed to get a stuffed up nose since yesterday :( I am hoping it is allergies, but since it has been raining I am doubting that! So I will be packing tonight, have a lesson tomorrow, then bathing the horses and packing the trailer on Wednesday. Leaving Thursday morning- and I hope that both babies will walk right in!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Saddle buying and lesson recap

This was an exciting week. I sold my Prestige Top Dressage saddle and then I found a 2006 Schleese Infinity for the right price, so I bought it! Here are some pictures. The saddle should be shipping to me this morning, but it has a long way to go. It is currently located in California- the Bay Area! It mazes me what a few Internet searches will help you to come up with. Now it is just a matter of hoping these pictures are the real pictures of the saddle I bought! Always a chance when you buy things over the Internet I guess.

I had my Thursday lesson on Gram last night. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was about 70 degrees, so warm enough to feel like we got a good workout and cool enough to not dismount and feel like I was going to pass out!

We worked on more of the same, making sure that Gram understands that I am not asking her to just put her head down. Renvers is now part of our daily warm up. once she gets really over her back, then we start to ask for the true bend. It is working, it will just be a long process. Now that we have the understanding in 20m circles and down the long side, last night we worked on more of the lateral work. We started with the 10m circle and leg yield. The next step was haunches in, shoulder in. Then it was time to work the canter. We would go down the quarter line and ask for haunches in, then straight. It was funny because Gram really missed the rail at first. She was programmed in the leg yielding work. She eventually got the hang of it.

One thing I must always remember with my uber sensitive mare, is to always try to calm her down. When she gets upset, she fights. Sometimes it is as simple as just talking to her, sometimes it is giving up. I just cannot fight back. When I fight back she shuts down on me. the one thing I love about her, is that Roemer mentality that she has... she will give you everything - but the mare part puts a caveat to that statement: if she wants to. I can feel her starting to get stressed. She, like me, is a bad poker player. First, she swishes the tail, then tightens her back, then she stiffens her neck- if she is really upset she starts "talking" a grunt, or a sneeze. Now sometimes the grunt happens when she is trying very hard without the rest of it. That is not a fight, that is more "momma, is it trying, but this big body is hard to move sometimes".

I have to remember to start her trot slower but with activity behind, because she tends to want to run. Once she is in a nice place, then it is asking her for more forward. Suppling is very important in everything, beginning, during lateral work and at the end. We ended our lesson with extended trot work, keeping in mind that she must raise in the shoulder and stay light. I really started to feel her sit, in the downward while staying light in the reins. It was a great feeling. I just hope it looks as good as it feels. Hopefully, I will be able to get Donnie to video our lesson on Sunday. Then we have the horse show next weekend! Yikes!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

By Jove, I think she's got it

Over the weekend we had a break through! Gram has finally got the idea of the lighter shoulder. It only took living in Renvers for a week. Our lesson on Sunday was finally one where I walked away feeling good. We were able to work a bit with baby half pass, simple changes in the canter across the diagonal, leg yield, medium trot, medium canter and still managed to stay light. It was a great feeling. I need to remember to stop chasing her. She tends to start running before she falls apart. We had an inside joke going. My lesson on Thursday Ryan would say "right leg...Right leg, RIGHT LEG!" so we of course made fun. Well Sunday instead of right leg I got "she's running, She's Running, SHE'S RUNNING". Always in threes! Gotta love Ryan.

So the other thing that I have gotten quite sloppy about is the riding to the letters. Boy, did I get an earful from Ryan on that. He would call out, HXF medium trot... I would ride, H to P. He would yell "That is not F!" Ride to the letter, so I would try again, he would yell when I was not lined up to X, he said I would then re-route to ride towards the correct letter. I am still not sure about that. :)