Thursday, December 30, 2010

Riding in Late December

Windy and 60 for my Thursday ride on Sister after the 35 degree (35 is almost 40....) sun and no wind Sunday ride - Okahoma weather always lives up to its reputation.

Wild Orbans enjoyed the Christmas weekend and it was VERY COLD.  Finally, on Sunday it warmed up to 35 so I went to Che' Cheval to ride a bit with Mallory after cleaning stalls.  Mallory rode Trouper and had some lovely trot and canter work in the arena.  I lounged and then mounted sister and we worked on walk/trot transitions and left bend.  Sister gets very resistant when I push to hard for collection on the bit so I tried to keep bit acceptance with a little longer rein.  Sister was pretty good but I was not quite up for a canter fight, so we finished arena work and then did a little ride around the edge of the pasture.  Sister was quiet and willing to ride serpentine down the hill while Trouper was very anxious to go back to the barn so Mallory worked circles down the hill.

Monday afternoon, the girls, Kale and I rode a little at the Wild O Ranch - Kale back on Sunny after a long hiatus.  Pico spooked Ivy off within the first 5 minutes of warmup but she got right back on, Alaina reminded Diez that horses can carry people, and I worked on posting/sitting trot with Splash.  Then, Brandon arrived and took the reins on Sunny, Kale took Splash and we finished with a mini trail ride around the WOR.

Thursday's work with Sister started with lunging in the round pen.  Sister was very fresh and not listening so, lots of change in direction and canter until - finally - whoa when asked.  Sister was sweating and blowing.  So, mounted, we headed up the hill to the arena to join Mallory and Trouper.  Christian has moved a lot of sand from the east end to the west half so the footing is pretty good.  After a walk/trot warm up, I asked for right lead canter and got a slow, but no kick-out, transition - and good canter work a couple of times around the arena half.  So, good downward transition and then another right lead canter request - no kick, but left lead canter.  So, counter canter then good downward transition.  Another request for right lead canter and again, left lead with no kick-out.  So, next try, we reversed and asked for left lead canter.  Got it without a fuss and had a good left lead around the arena half.  YEAH! 

While cantering, I tried to work on sitting deep, keeping my hands out of Sister's face, keeping heals down and shoulders level.  I wasn't as steady left lead but I am slowly improving - I think?  Sister was blowing hard and I decided to cool down and finish the ride at a walk while Mallory did some canter work.  She and Trouper worked on figure-8 canter/counter canter circles and made it look pretty easy on the left lead - it was harder on right lead but they kept a few strides of counter-canter before the downward transition.  We walked zig-zagged down the hill as the sun went down.  Lovely.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Struggles with Sister

I had a trip to Kansas last week but made a quick trip to VerdigrisTuesday afternoon to work Sister before I left town.  We started with the usual lounging warm-up and Sister was rather fresh - blasting around at the end of the line with head up and nostrils flaring.  Cross firing, stumbling and even went down at one point.  I was a little worried about the riding to follow.  After she settled down, we mounted and went through the walk/trot warm up.  Sister was pretty good.  With proper set-up (haunches in and shoulder up), we got canter departs with no kickouts and all correct right lead, and 3 out of 5 correct left.  Yeah!

So, Friday I was hopeful for a good ride.  Lounging was perfect.  Sister listened and was calm and obedient.  Then we started riding and things were not as good.  The walk/trot warm-up was OK and then we tried for left lead canter.  Kick-out and resistance but correct lead.  Next try we got wrong lead without kick and we changed direction at the canter to correct the lead.  We continued to work for left lead and got right without kick-out and left with kick-out and FINALLY, left without a fuss.  I was ready to quit while we were ahead (if you don't count the backward steps first), so we did.

The weekend included birthday visits, birthtday movie party, holiday baking, and no time to ride.  But, I managed a little training session Tuesday afternoon.  Sister was pretty fresh on the lounge line, but no bucking or kicking.  Resistance started the minute I mounted up.  Falling left, falling right, swinging the hanches everywhichway.  FUSSY in the bridle.  We WORKED hard on straight and forward with a some give to the bit.  We got a little improvement.  We worked some more and got some nice moments going right, improved moments going left.  We quit while we were ahead without even asking for canter.  10 steps back I guess.  Perhaps our next session will be better.  YaYa.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Left Lead Canter and YaYa Xmas

Things can get crazy in December and this year is no exception. We are on the birthday/Christmas countdown, the temperatures are dropping, and riding is hard to fit in.
But, I managed a quick ride on Sister on Friday afternoon. We tacked up and lounged in the outdoor arena and Sister was more settled than last week. Some walk into trot to warm up with a little leg yield and posting/sitting trots left and right. Sister is getting better bend to the left and is more steady in the bridle (mostly). C suggested less trot work and more canter - perhaps LEFT LEAD! So, we started with right lead, tried to set-up with haunches in, so, with a minimum of fuss, we got right lead when asked. A couple of laps around the arena and downward transition into posting trot. Sister gets a bit fast after canter, so we do figure-8's for calming and then ask for right lead canter again. Good canter work. Time to quit while I am ahead? C said no..... So, reverse and set up for left lead canter depart. Advice from C: put haunches in (or shoulder out); give half halt with inside rein; ask for canter early as we come down the long side (so that if we get the wrong lead, we can just do a figure 8 and circle on the correct lead rather than immediately correcting when she does get a canter). So, haunches-in and ask for left lead canter. The depart was to long, so the haunches drifted straight and we got rt-lead. So, went with it for half the arena and then asked for trot. Tried again with same result. The biggest problem was the 6-stride transition during which we lost inside bend and got the wrong lead. So, one more try and WE GOT THE LEAD! It wasn't pretty - felt rushed and heavy. But we cantered the entire arena before we dropped to trot. And then asked for left lead again and got it but also got the dreaded kick-out. Decided to accept the correct lead and overlook the little kick. But, we did get 2 left lead canter departs. Yeah!

The rest of the weekend was a blur. The Annual 4-H Awards Banquet most of the day Saturday.  Then, Nutcracker and a party with the Wyoming Hot Flash Girls and the annual YaYa Party Sunday night. Nancy hosted the YAYA shindig in her beautiful home and since I was late, Sherry took my food and dirty Santa gift - but Inquiring Minds want to KNOW! Who got the Dirty Santas?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas is Coming

My first present?  Cantering on Sister in the BIG arena on the Hill at Che' Cheval.  The sun was out and cold weather predicted for the weekend so I escaped work a little early to get a ride on Sister Friday afternoon.  My knee was feeling recovered so we headed up the hill to the wide open spaces in the arena.  I told C that I didn't plan to canter and he told me Sister would be ready when I was.

We started our session with lounge line work and a little ground tie time.  Then, mounted, we did trot circles and straight lines staying off the rail.  Sister gave me good bend both directions and was fairly willing in transitions.  So, as we come clockwise around the west end, I decided to ask for canter before I thought to much and scared myself out of it.  The transition took most of the way down the long side but finally, CANTER without kick-out.  We cantered all the way around and then dropped to a trot.  Posting trot, transitioned to sitting trot - zig-zagging until Sister seemed calm and steady.  Before the next try, C reminded me to move haunches-in just before asking for canter - Sister picked it up within 2 or 3 strides - no kick-up either.  We went about half way around and then transitioned to trot.  Yeah!  The light was almost gone, so with a little more sitting trot and stop/back, we walked down the hill and dismounted near the barn. Sister is really making progress and canter in the BIG ARENA is a big step for me.  Still haven't cantered left lead canter - but.....

Saturday morning dawned windy and warmish (40's) but the temp dropped into the 30's by 9am.  Kathy B and I had a lesson at 10.  Since we were in the covered arena, the wind wasn't a problem and both horses were sweaty by the end of the lesson.  Call is really looking good these days and Kathy had some lovely trots and nice canter departs.  Splash was pretty good without the German Neck Stretcher (managed some moments of work on the bit).  Patty noticed that Splash needed to slow down several times - mark the date since usually Splash is way to slow.  After work on walk/trot transitions, we worked canter both ways changing rein through X for simple changes.  Kathy and Call had great transitions, Splah and me? not so much.  But we did get correct lead every time, just had sluggish/early (dropped gait) changes.  We moved on to cavaletti and then to shoulder in at the walk and then trot.  Kathy and Call tried to show us how its done, but Splash really has a hard time - particularly going to the right.  We finished with leg yields right and then left.  I think the lateral work was to hard on Splash's right hind, so we quit.  Splash was done - hope we didn't over do it.

The 4-H horse club is planning a GPS Horse Trail mapping project at Heyburn Lake in January, so we had a training session Saturday afternoon (including a practice walk at the RSU reserve).  Then, the Horse Club participated in the Claremore Christmas Parade.  The kids dressed in Santa Hats and LED lights and walked with Peanut the pony dressed as Rudolf - Very CUTE!  The kids took turns riding in the cart and they all had a great time.

Seems like I have been sneaking off to ride every spare moment the last couple of months so today we did some baking and went to Lowe's for a Christmas Tree.  No riding or horse related activity.  Hmmm, I was really enjoying horse - horse - horse all the time.

We are clearly overdue for a YaYa ride but I am looking forward to next weekend's YaYa Christmas Party.