Back to

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tune up!

December hasn't been a good month for my health.  I guess my body just gave up on fighting off colds and flus this season.  I had the worst cold of my life, followed by a stomach flu... The stomach flu was just a mere two days before Ryan flew back from Florida.  DOH!  So I really didn't expect much out of my lessons this weekend.  I thought Gram and I would both be rusty and just bad, and did I mention Ryan rode with Steffen Peters the day before coming back! Yeah... I thought I was in deep trouble.

To my surprise the big mare was really there with me!  Both days she started with her "I want to Buck" frame of mind, but quickly came to the conclusion that would require way more effort than she was willing to put forth.  I warned Ryan, so I think he took it easy on us on Saturday... Sunday he worked us hard.  I walked away with some really great exercises and ideas of what I should be working towards.

We worked on transitions a lot.  Gram now understands what the half halt is, but her reaction now needs to be refined.  The biggest thing Ryan pointed out, was that she tends to come shorter in front.  So I need to work on keeping her front legs out there, and worry more about tucking that rear end under.  Makes sense.  To help her understand the next piece of the puzzle I need her quick in the upward transition, she wants to power those with front wheel drive instead of rear wheel.  Ryan had us do lots of transitions down to a quick transition up. At first she hallowed her back and stuck her head up, then she started to actually think about things.  I have to be careful to give her the room she needs... Without Ryan saying this, I think I was blocking her, so this exercise was as much for me as it was for her.  The sound bite that I kept hearing from him was: "keep her up and out". Basically up in the shoulder and head and out with the nose.  Driving her into a light contact, but not allowing her to pull down.  She likes to pull down, so it is a constant effort, more than just thinking don't hold (which is also something I tend to do when she braces).  It is one of those things that I know shouldn't happen, but that doesn't always translate into I never do it! Lately, I have had to work on my mind set, I shouldn't just hold and wait for her to give.  When she was starting, this was how we learned to communicate with each other.  I asked for something and waited for the response I wanted to happen.  Now she gets the idea, so I need to tailor how I ask for things. It is very much like teaching a child a language.  You start with words, move to sentences, and we are all speaking fluently before we learn to write and about proper grammar.  Gramarye is speaking in sentences, and now I need to teach her to write.  We need to communicate on a new level, using what we have learned as a base; refine.

We had probably some of the best medium trots we have ever had.  I need to think about pushing her up, and thinking about those front legs.  Also in the downward, I need to lift her up in front more instead of letting her fall back into regular trot.  Our half passes were acceptable, I just need to continue to watch her running... more of the half pass a few steps and halt to just make sure those half halts are working and letting me control the tempo.  The canter was much better, but still needs more jump.  We also did some great shoulder-in, straight, shoulder-in, straights down the long side.  Our half steps are coming along nicely too.  Again I need to remember to keep the front legs out in front and bring the hind end under more.  EASY right? ha.  I have some good things to work on until Ryan comes back for a weekend again January 15th.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cow Mare

Last night Gram was a COW... I left my riding boots and helmet back in Michigan after giving baby Zion a tune up.  Gram is a mare and made it obvious that she felt neglected. Honestly, it felt like I was riding a 4 year old all over again.  She was behind my leg, swung her rear end at me every time I put my leg on, and was just not feeling me sitting on her back last night... I had planned on just sitting on her for a few minutes, since I am still battling the worst cold I have ever had!  I knew I was in trouble, when I started to trot and she started tossing her head.  The head toss if Gram's middle finger.  I pushed her through the head toss, only to ask for canter and get a squeal... The squeal is the worst mare noise out there, and it means that you are being punished, big time! I continued to ask for canter after the squeal and got a fast trot, head shaking, kick out and buck finally landing us in a behind the leg canter.  Not very classy- thus the cow mare title! Many cow kicks, and a nose bleed later (my nose of course), I finally had a somewhat in front of my leg mare, and I think she had almost forgiven me for leaving her... little does she know next week is Christmas and I will be gone even more! I figure December is a bit of a wash, with the holidays, cold weather and adjusting to it getting pitch black at 4:00. Hopefully, my post tomorrow won't be a COW MARE part two!

Friday, December 10, 2010


After being sick with a nasty cold/flu all week, I finally made it to the barn last night. Donnie, Turi and I made the trek out in a snow storm to visit with Gram. I walked to her stall, and in typical mare form she was offended that I had not been there sooner. She gave me a bit of "the cold shoulder" and showed me how she was able to break her halter! I tried my best to make it up to her, but I think I was falling short of her expectations! Since I am still having trouble breathing, I thought that riding might not be the best option, so I opted for lunging. I put the side reins on the first hole, so I wasn't even expecting much from her. Now, keep in mind, I haven't lunged Gram since last winter, we have however, worked with a long whip (see Spanish Gram post). When she see's the big whip, she now thinks it is time to work on half steps. Not what my intention was last night. She was already excited for too many days off, it was snowing and the temperature had dropped. She took off on the lunge trotting, not a pretty either. It took a lot of calming noises from me, and waiting for her to settle. She was stiff, so the trot was choppy and quite painful to watch! Finally, we were able to come closer to the same level. I thought it was time to push my luck and ask for a nice canter, but prepared myself, as well as the other person in the arena, for the worst. To my surprise, she gave a buck, a kick, a buck, took off for a couple strides, but then came right back down to my level. She just needed to get the kinks out! A year ago, she would have dragged me across the arena! So I was impressed with her restraint. We did the other side, and then called it a night. I just spend the rest of the night pondering my big girl's improvement. She will be shocked that she has two more days off since we are going to Michigan... Poor big mare, I will have to bring extra treats for her next week to make up for my neglect! :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A great Brithday

I have had a great birthday weekend... the BIG 3-0! yikes feels weird to type that out for the first time! Friday I took the day off of work to run errands and of course head to the barn. Gram was really good. I came to the conclusion that the more I fixate on making her supple, the worse things get. I think I start messing with her and she just gets annoyed. So I worked on half passes, shoulder-in, haunches-in and canter/walk, walk/canters. As soon as I started to ask for things, she settled right into her work.

Saturday, we had an amazing ride... I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift from the sweet mare. When I arrived at the barn, I was greeted by this face:
How could the ride have gone badly? She was ready and very willing to work. It was the best feeling. She really amazes me more and more everyday. She has a heart of gold and she wants to learn more, and be better. Honestly, when she was a baby I was a little afraid that her crazy spookiness would never go away, but she is proving me wrong with each day. She now really trusts me, I can see it in her eye, and can tell when I am riding her, she no longer feels like a ticking time bomb. Sure she has moments where she looses it for a minute, but she calms her self back down instead of spiraling out of control. It has just been so much fun watching her grow up and develop into a real dressage horse. I am very excited for the next few years and seeing where her potential will take us.