Sunday, November 28, 2010

Horses make the Thanksgiving Weekend

We are all thankful for our partners in equine therapy but sometimes I would be more thankful for plain obedience.

The girls were on a riding roll last week and rode every chance they got.

Ivy has been jumping Pico so much lately that Alaina wanted to give it a try (cross bars only).  So, we had some horse exchanges but Ivy didn't jump Sunny.

Thanksgiving day promised to be FRIGID so the girls and I joined Mallory and Roxanne in Inola for a lesson at noon on Wednesday. We loaded Pico and Sunny and headed to Cheval Ranch to pick up Sister for the outing. It was humid and unseasonalbly warm (70's) so Sister was a bit sweaty before we started our lounging session. 

I am still not getting complete obedience during lounging although I try to keep her moving out and away from the center of the circle. Even so, Sister was calm and mostly good on the lounge line. So, when the gang was ready to ride, I mounted up to join the lesson.  Sister went over cavalletti fairly well but tripped over the elevated poles.  She did some decent leg yeilds but I did not canter.  Roxie and Ivy practiced a little jumping. 
Thanksgiving day and the horses were thankful to have the day off and that the cold came in after the rain.  We went to Nowata for the annual eating festival.  I looked forward to riding my brains out for the rest of the weekend but disaster!  My knee gave out on me and I was gimping around in a bad way.

Steve found a brace for me so Friday afternoon the girls and I went to Cheval Valley so I could lounge Sister.  We did some good round pen work and C was helping me upgrade my lounging technique.  I wasn't up for riding so C got on and had good work until canter.  Then, Miss Attitude regressed to a bit of Kick-out.... C worked her through it.

Ivy has been missing TC so we dropped by the Urban Ranch to visit.  TC has a new pasture pet named Jack but seemed happy to see us.  Ivy rode a little walk/trot and then we got to feed before we headed back to Claremore.

Kale joined us in Inola on Saturday for the Party Lesson with dreams of lunching at Graham's.  He rode Splash for me since my knee was still in recovery - I rode a little in the western saddle with my knee brace in place.  Splash does not admit any neck reining knowledge.

Graham's was CLOSED for the holiday so we lunched at La Masion in Catoosa.  Kale headed back to Stillwater a little late to go to Bedlam - sadly, OSU lost after a good game.

Sunday was extremely windy but my knee was feeling some better, so brace in place, I headed off to Cheval Meadows to lounge and maybe ride Sister.  After a good lounging session, I decided to mount and ride a little walking and trotting.  Sister was very good and we worked on left bend / right bend as well as sitting and posting trot.

Hope all my YaYa Sista's had a wonderful holiday weekend.

PS - Dirty Santa is coming soon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ride as much as you can!

After spending a few days in Kansas last week, I escaped from work early and went to Cheval Acres to work with Sister and ride with Mallory and Flame.  The temp was cool and the afternoon a bit windy but we rode in the big arena until Mallory had to dash to Tulsa to pick up children from school.  Both mares were good as we worked circles, straight lines, and leg yields.  Mallory and Flame even opened the gate so we could ride back to the barn. 

Sat. morning we headed to Inola for the Party Lesson!  Mallory/Mario, Roxanne/Trouper, Ivy/Pico, Alaina/Sunny, Mattie/Zoe, and me/Splash had a good lesson.  Mallory and I were in dressage gear, Ivy and Roxie in hunt seat, Mattie and Alaina in Western.  The lesson was fun for all.  Mallory had some fabulous canter departs and Splash was sound for walk/trot/canter.  He took correct leads although he dropped gait from left lead canter - we didn't canter small circles or very long.  Yeah!

We were planning lunch at La Masion in Catoosa when Ivy and Alaina ditched Patty and me to go see Harry Potter with Roxanne and crew.  They spent several hours in the movie theater but didn't actually see HP because of a fire alarm hoax.  Patty and I had a yummy lunch.

Then back to Lake Cheval to canter Sister!  Needless to say, we stayed in the round pen.  After a bit of lounging, we warmed up with walk/trot transitions.  Sister was clearly expressing reluctance to work, irritation with my requests, and a serious aversion to one side of the round pen when working to the LEFT!  It was a struggle for me, but we worked though it.  Then, we went to the right and asked for canter.  The depart was SLOW and FINALLY, with a Kick-out, we got canter.  Several circles around the pen and we dropped back to posting trot then sitting trot.  Then asked for canter again, Repeat.  Success a couple of times, then more Kick-out.  Yikes, can't stop yet, so more canter departs.  None prompt.  But, I survived some kick-outs.  Still not ready for prime time, but......  More canter work is in our future.

Sunday afternoon, after the girls and I volunteered at the Williams Water Stop at the Rt 66 Marathon, we played with the horses when Andrea and Nick dropped by for a ride.  Andrea got Sunny and he was a star, Alaina played with Diez, Ivy jumped Pico, and poor Nick got to WORK Splash.  Splash was not cooperative in the arena, but Nick persevered.  Then, off on a trail ride around the Wild O Ranch and Splash was better.  Pico the wonder trail horse was pretty good.  Diez and Sunny were very good. 

No one fell off although Alaina staged a dismount to try to scare us.  I think they had fun, I took lots of pictures.

So, even though I was horseing around all weekend, I didn't join my YaYa Sisters on the big Hunter Pace at Flint Ridge.  Maybe next year.... but I want to hear all the details ASAP. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

the DARK (left) Side

The rain on Friday left arenas to wet on Saturday and since Patty and Ashley went to Stillwater for the equine Special Olympics, we didn't get to Party. But first thing Sunday morning, the TEXT came in - C was free until 11, so I dashed to Springs Cheval to ride Sister in the wet SANDY arena.

Mallory's place holds up to rain pretty well and although wet, both round pen and arena were ride-able by Sunday. So, we started some lounging work on a walk circle. Sister was sniffing as she went so I asked for trot. One and a half circles trot circles and she dropped like a rock to roll - not even breaking the trot until she hit the ground. Dressed in my trusty Isabelle! I yelled and she scrambled into a canter. We worked canter both directions before we tried trot again. Whew.. after a bit of ground tie, I mounted and we moved on.

Sitting trot and circles left and right on a fairly loose rein - things were pretty good. We were getting left bend! Mostly. I tried to focus on body position (shoulders LEVEL?), even weight in both stirrups, deeper seat, even seat-bones, quiet hands, elbows in, etc ... ... HARD work for me!

So, we worked leg yields left and right and then haunches in left and right. Legs yields were not bad. Haunches in? Not for more than a stride or two. Then a bit of "extension" along straight lines (extension is relative here since it wasn't much). We finished on a good note after just an hour of work since the footing was heavy.

The bad news is that this work has clearly identified my weak side (left you think?). Well, we have something (things) to work on. YaYa!

PS - my brave YaYa sista's are headed to Flint Creek next weekend for a hunter pace - I will stay home and work Sister and/or Splash.

PPS - sand art by Roxanne, Ivy, and Alaina.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shoulder Issues

Rain was in the forcast today and I had an appointment with the eye doctor at 10 AM.  Dr T's operation is a well oiled machine and I was out by 10:30.   No rain yet - so I headed to Mallory's Paradise to get a ride in on Sister before the rain came in.  Amazingly, I had all  my riding gear in my Honda Farm Truck.

After a brief lounging session, we started working on trot and bend in the round pen.  Since left bend is difficult, that is what we focused on.  When going to the left, I really struggled to keep my weight even.  Sister seems to be right sided and so do I.  So, I tried to keep my left leg on at the girth and I was inconsistant - so Sister was too.  Leg-yield right was the correction I could get after not getting bend.  So C suggested we work on my seat.

First, we worked to the right so that I could focus on my position without worrying about left bend.  Within 2 minutes, we had uncovered a real issue.  My left shoulder moves up and forward - so, my left seatbone lightens and my right side gets heavy.  Not just a little.  Yikkes!  So, I practiced sitting deeper, rotating my shoulders back and level, and NOT leaning back.  I made some progress and Sister was pretty consistant, keeping trot regular on a fairly loose rein.  Next we reversed direction.

Going left was so awful I started laughing - that didn't help.  My seat was non-existant.  Sister and I both lost our left shoulders, mine went up and she dropped hers.  We slopped around cutting in and loosing my balance.  I could not sit the trot going left.  It was not pretty.  Using my left hand on the back of the saddle, I held on and tried to keep my shoulders even.  We worked until I got a couple of better left bends and I practiced keeping left leg on and right leg light.  It was hard.  It looks like Sister and I have some serious work cut out for us to resolve our Shoulder Issues.

A few rain drops fell while I was loading up and the rain really came down shortly thereafter.  But some sun came through too making a beautiful rainbow.  I take that as a sign the we can overcome all our issues.  Yaya!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sister Does Dressage

After Sister met Christian, I made a plan to ride her in the last schooling show of the season - the Thanksgiving show at the Rocking C.  To that end, Sister and I made three trips to Inola to ride with Patty and practice in the arena before the show.  Mallory with Raffles and I shared a couple of lessons on Friday last week and this past Wed.  On Wednesday, we practiced leg yeilds in and out of the circle and trotted over cavalletti poles in the outdoor before trying a practice test in the covered arena.  During the practice test I noticed that Sister was very resistant to the left since before that, I wasn't really thinking about geometry. 

Friday, Pico came along in the trailer for Ruthie but Sister and I had a private lesson with Patty.  We concentrated on figure eights to alternate bend work and made some progress.  I tried to think about weight distribution and tried to lighten my right leg to encourage bend around my left leg and we seemed to do better.  So, crossing fingers, I hoped for a good show day.

Saturday started out fairly cold but the sun was out and the day was beautiful.  Ivy had the first ride time with Pico around noon. 

Ruthie followed with a Freestyle on Pico in memory of Jaime which got me all teary but was lovely. 
Ruthie rode Pico again in a training level test before Ivy rode him again in her T4.  Next, Alaina and Sunny rode their two Intro tests before I took Pico and tried a F4.  I didn't ride the test well.  Right off the bat I went straight down the long side rather than across the diagonal - this was not the fault of my reader.  Then Pico did a huge spook at C in our first canter.  But we finished the test - the score?  A 57.875, could have been worse.  THEN....

Sister and I rode our first dressage test!  Intro B, not very long or very hard but I was pretty happy with our ride.  We scored 59 - mostly 6's with 5 for development of medium walk, 7 for free walk and 5 for the final halt (not square and haunches right).  Sister did not fuss with the bit to much and gave me a little bend left.  Yeah!

Sat. was a fun day with lots of friends to show - Patty and Jurgen had lovely rides and Christiana on Arde dominated Intro.  Shannean had Silka moving out and Ivy had high point Jr Training level.  Charlene rode Lil in a Cowboy Dressage class.  Zoe rode Bullseye in Intro B and Alaina rode Sunny in Intro very well and had him moving very forward for a western show pony.  Marsha and Lakota worked the intro classes, Mallory and Raffles rode a couple of training level classes and Roxanne got a 9 and Jr. High Point for Jr - Intro. 

Sunday was cool and windy but sunny and YaYa Sisters visited Julie for a cowboy afternoon.  After a wonderful beef stew on mashed potatoes cooked in dutch ovens over an open fire, we cruised the ranch in a wagon pulled by a team of Belgians.  We finished our afternoon with more cowboy fare - dutch oven peach cobbler with wiskey sauce and vanilla icecream.  YUMMMMY  Julie and Dude live in a beautiful wood cabin furnished with antiques, wood burning stove, a real ice box, and native stone floor.  What a wonderful way to spend a beautiful fall day.  YaYa! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Last of the Fast – The NEW me

OK, I am hooked. I am the newest TWH convert. Since my last post about my first CANTER on Sister, I have discovered a need for speed. But not on my trusty Appy mount (who takes the Slow Mantra into STOP mode), or my latest AQHA project (with the reflexes of a large cat), but on one of Rita’s stellar examples of the famous Tennessee Walking Horse. Now we all know why she, Nancy, and Sherry all have more than ONE.

Sister and I followed up on our canter work last Wed. afternoon with a lesson at Patty’s on Friday. After a good warm up on the lounge line (Sister was very sensible and responsive to voice), I mounted and rode with Mallory and Raffles. We worked leg-yields in and out of the circle, followed by cavalletti and finished with leg-yields left and right from quarter line to the rail. Mallory worked on canter while I continued with walk/trot transitions. Sister was not the vision of harmony we strive for in dressage. But, she was really very good. A bit fussy with her head, and inconsistent in the bridle. I was thrilled with our progress and have signed up for Intro B at the show next weekend at Patty’s.

The girls had a 4-H Halloween Party on Saturday so we missed the ATRC schooling show. But, a YaYa ride/feast was planned for Sunday afternoon. Sherry and I trailered to Rita’s and I rode Splash in the arena to check his soundness. W/T/C was great to the left and almost good to the right. Rita had Winston tacked up and ready to go when his rider cancelled. So, I left Splash in the stall eating hay (his idea of heaven since there no movement except for the jaw) and I got acquainted with Winston in the arena. Boy can you FEEL that walk! But, the running walk is HEAVEN. I skipped the canter trial until next time and 10 of us headed down the trail.

I had a great ride. Sherry on Jazz, Rita on Reese, and Alyson on Comet lead the way down the trail and we were right behind them – the last of the Fast Women. Judy and Navaho didn’t lag too far behind, but Kathy and Cisco were the trail block for the rest of the field (Marsha and Lakota, Charlene and Lil, Amanda and Lady, and Nancy on Wisdom).

That Walker gait is so smooth, I didn’t even need leg. And, Winston goes across the dips and around corners like a dream. I wonder if Steve would mind building me a new barn for my future herd of TWH? YaYa!

PS - Congrats to Kathy and Call for their exceptional scores at their last schooling show of the season!