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Monday, May 23, 2011


Finally had a lesson with Ryan yesterday and did it hurt! :)

We showed Ryan all that we have been working on, and overall, he said we have done a good job making progress; but that was at the end of the lesson. The beginning was more like show me your half passes- still not enough crossing, show me your canter- needs to be collected more, show me your transitions- still not perfect... that is why I love training with him!

The main point of everything is that we still need to develop more strength... it just takes time and more exercises. She has gained the understanding of the half halts better, and no longer runs through me, but she still needs to engage her inside hinds more. Even in the canter walk transitions we need to keep the back end under instead of stopping on the front. I knew the canter was slamming down instead of sitting, so now it is on me to get it more consistent. In our lesson, every transition had a different problem, so I feel like it definitely is a strength issue.

In the half pass I need to be mindful especially to the right when she tends to want to lead with her haunches. Basically I got an over all approval from Ryan. Hopefully we can build the strength over the next few months!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring Evil mare is back...

I started to take for granted the fact that I have just had great rides lately... Last night Gramarye brought me back to reality. It started in the cross-ties; nasty ears, and even a kick when I reached her rear end. (Not a trying to actually kick me, but a warning kick under her belly- enough to let me know that the next one won't be so nice). The when I went to brush the other side, she about tried to smush me against the wall. Then I remembered why I loved my geldings! She was fine on Tuesday night, so my guess is that her horse cramps started yesterday... plus there is a lot of mare tension at the barn right now. One mare is about to have a baby- like any day, the other mare is attacking when you walk past her stall, so maybe Gram felt peer pressure to be witchy.

Good new was he had butt foam almost immediately. But bad news is she was ready for a fight. I thought we were just going to have an nice stretching ride, and then be done... but nooooo, she wanted to do nothing at all. So we spent time having an argument about hanging on the reins, the we had an argument about where that left hind should be (I wanted it under, she wanted it dragging behind). I spent the entire ride (45 minutes) working transitions, and then she finally gave to me. So we stretched for 5 minutes and then called it a night- however she was SOAKED! I hope our ride tonight is better!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Anniversary and the Dressage Husband

Yesterday was our 3 year wedding anniversary, so I thought I would devote sometime to the dressage husband on the blog today. My husband, Donnie, is one heck of a trooper. He takes the time to come to the barn with me at least once per week. He has come a very long way with Gram too! Donnie got thrown into the dressage husband role really. I was without a horse to ride a majority of the time we dated. In fact, it wasn't until after we got married that Gram was brought to Chicago! At first Donnie was hesitant to pet her... now, three years later he walks out to her paddock to get her all by himself!

Not only does he attend horse shows with a smile on his face, but he stands in the cold to video me so I can see how things are shaping up. He built my website, just for fun, and linked the blog because he thought it would be nice to track Gram's progress. I will say, he is learning right along with Gram :). So to all the husbands out there, that spent the time, sacricficing a real vacation for the World Dressage Masters in Wellington, fork over the money and support their wives with their love of horses- I salute you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The keys to solid warm-up = good ride even in a heat wave!

I haven't been real consistent about riding or updating the blog lately! We lost Donnie's grandmother at 94 years old a couple weeks ago. She had cancer, but we were able to be by her side until the very end. It was important family time, so I hope Gram understood :)

Last night I went to the barn. When I left the city it was 78 degrees with a nice cool breeze coming off the lake. I had actually worked from home and was able to have the windows open all day and stay very comfortable. I talked to friends in the burbs all complaining about it being too hot... I like to be cold, so I was blown away that my friends thought it was too hot and I thought it was perfect. I am not going to lie, but I got excited that perhaps that meant my body would deal with heat a bit better... Well, then I arrived at the barn, and was hit with 90 degrees and understood why everyone was saying it was hot out! I walked up to Gram, and she was sweating in her stall. I took her into the aisle and let her enjoy the fan made breeze.

I tacked her up and then proceeded to the indoor. I have found the key to our perfect warm up. I start, as I have since she came to Chicago, to just walk her on the buckle for the first 5 minutes or so. It gives us both the chance to relax into work. I normally wait for her to make her big sigh. Then I start stretchy trot, to serpentine's, and then into canter in each direction. This whole process puts us about 15 minutes from the moment we stepped into the arena. Then we walk again, but instead of on the buckle, it is more of an extended walk. Then I have been asking for collected walk, back to extended, just to get her used to me shortening and lengthening the reins in the walk. Next is is all about transitions; walk/halt, halt/trot/, trot/walk, walk/trot, trot/halt, halt/canter, canter/trot, trot/canter, canter/walk, walk/canter... you get the idea. Well, by this point she is drenched in sweat and so am I. We walk for a bit to catch our breath. I ask her for some lateral work in the walk, then ask for trot and ask for lateral work again. We work on her self carriage. Although her trot has gotten good, and the canter has gotten better, she still struggles with staying "UP" in the canter. Big horse, lots of body, hard work to keep the jump. The transitions are helping though. Now just the slightest move of my pelvis and she is ready to walk, and if my leg isn't there, she walks. :) A good problem to have!

Once we get a few really stellar moves, I normally forget to stretchy trot and go into walk (oops!). Then when the big mare thinks she is done, I normally remember that I haven't done stretching work, and pick her back up just to allow her to stretch in both directions, then we start our for real cool down, instead of the just kidding one!

I gave her a bath, and the cool water felt good for me too! Then I put her to bed and spent the drive home thinking about the progress and the keys to success. It is a formula for both the horse and rider. For me and Rushonne it was in the form of cantering right away, then coming back to trot work... with Willy it was keeping him alert and excited. For Gram it is about easing her into a relaxed frame. the warm up is probably more for me, but I think that when you can communicate with the horse in a way that is acceptable to both, the better you are set up for the ride. If I get one determined to work on something, lots of times it turns into a fight in warm up. If I just the warm up happen, we are both ready to work even if it is in the middle of a heat wave!