Monday, January 31, 2011

Alaina and Sister

The OK weather warmed up to 65 and Sunny on Friday - WOW - wish winter was always like that.  After being in Kansas for a couple of days I was able to get away early enough to catch a quick ride with Sister on my way home from work.

After almost 2 weeks since my last ride, I was a bit nervous.  Lunging went OK after Sister worked off a bit of excitement and she gave me fairly good Whoa's and reverses.  Mounted, we warmed up with long trot before working on SLOW.  I concentrated on sitting deep and keeping my hands as steady as possible and we worked for collection, straightness, and (as needed) bend.  The work went well - we got fairly good - if a little fast - jog and I quit with a little backing.  No nerve for canter after the long break and growing dark.

Saturday promised to be balmy after a crisp start at around freezing.  We heading to Patty's for lessons and lunch.  The current dilema is Sunny - he got a serious cut on the bulb of his right fore foot and might not be healed in time for the Will Rogers Classic at the end of February.  So, options for Alaina include Splash (a difficult ride after his long recovery from injury last year), Sister (still green), or lease a horse from a friend.  So, Alaina rode Carmen (the Mongolian war horse look-a-like) for the lesson with Ivy and Pico.  Alaina loved riding an Arab again and Ivy had some beautiful jumps to finish their lesson.

Kathy and Call, Jolie on Casper, Julie on the paint mare, and Splash and I rode in the party lesson.  I admit to using the German Neck Stretcher.....  (I KNOW - but the 12-step program is on hold).  The sun was out and the weather was fine.  The four of us stretched legs down and back for warm-up, trot circles and arm circles before we picked up the trot.  Call and Kathy were looking really good - they will dominate at the Will Rogers Classic!  Jolie and Casper seemed to  get along fine and they even managed canters both directions.  Julie and the mare were doing well too although the first canter attempt was exciting.  Splash was really resitant to comming out of retirement.  But, we got both canter leads - even while we were falling out at the shoulder during those pesky transitions.

After the lesson, Alaina gave Splash a try and even managed a brief canter without a whip.  Jolie and Alaina swapped for a bit and Alaina did pretty well on Casper.  Jolie loves Splash even though he is a slug...

After lunch at Graham's, we dropped horses back at the Wild O Ranch and headed to Cheval Lake so Alaina could give Sister a try.

Sister gave Alaina the usual resistance at the beginning but they worked through it.  Since Alaina is interested in Western, C helped her with slow - sitting deep and steady hands.  They were able to canter both ways without kickout.  Yeah!  Much work still needed before Alaina and Sister are show-ready, but...

Sunday and the normal OK winter weather returned.  Darn.  But, since it was 'almost 40' and the big winter storm was still out to the NW, Alaina gave Sister another workout with more success.  Followed up with S'mores around the campfire lakeside. 

Then, home for the trailer to move Sister to our house for the storm to give stalls to Romeo and Jody.  Cross all fingers and toes that the big storm misses us and that riding weather will return sooner rather than later.  YaYa.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Snow and the Dezzie Doo

The snow that was predicted came in Wednesday night and the Wild Orban Ranch got 4 or 5 inches overnight.  Schools were cancelled and the girls went out first thing Thursday morning the play in the snow just so they could come in and have Hot Chocolate.  With Whipped Cream...  and Chocolate Chips.......

Steve kept the horses up with hay in the morning while the snow lightly sifted down. The snow ended around noon and he let them out with hay to play.

With my trusty computer hooked to the internet, I worked from home all morning and then, with my wonderboots on my feet, fleece breeches, gloves, etc. to keep warm, I went out to take photos and ride the Dezzie Doo.  Diez is hard to see in the snow but she is a cushy ride.

And she is already shedding.  LONG hair left Diez and applied itself to my fleece pants.  Lots of Long Dezzie hair.  Over two inches long - I measured several.  Alaina says that no outfit is complete without some Dezzie hairs.  I am very complete.  YaYa.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Splash VS Sister

January 15, 2011 and the sun was shinning and the temperature was mid-50's in NE OK.  Ahhhhh.  I missed the ODS/AGM but couldn't miss a riding opportunity.  I just haven't figured out how to do 2 things at once... So...

Mallory, Roxie, and Mattie met us (the girls, Sunny, Pico, and Splash) at Che' Cheval for a horsey Saturday afternoon.  Mallory started with Raffles and I saddled Sister.  Raffles has been off for a couple of months and Mallory worked him pretty hard in the round-pen before mounting and then rode lightly for about 30 minutes.

Sister started out very distracted and was fairly fresh on the lunge line.  Also, the footing was a bit slick under the sandy layer but she settled fairly quickly considering there were several stumbles and slips.  Mounted, we warmed up at the walk and then trot before we worked on bend (when asked) and straight (when asked)....  Pretty good, but I was timid about canter because of the slips.  So, we worked on backing.  1) ask for give to the bit; 2) as gently as possible, ask for back - keep hands even, legs off, and use as little pressure as needed.  Sounds easy.  But, Sister would back a step and then fall right with the haunches.  I would try right leg pressure way back to prevent the fall out.  Meanwhile, my hands would contradict my leg and then, more falling out.  Ugh.  So, several more tries to keep hands EVEN and leg right (not to strong but strong enough).  Next try, and haunches left...  More tries and Sister got mad. Finally, an almost straight back without a fight.  Yeah, good place to stop for the day.

Next up, Splash.  I finally got my new webbers so I could FINALLY try my new Isabelle (Christmas present from my favorite husband).  I lunged Splash before mounting and he slipped and stumbled and tried to drop gait every 4 steps.  Mounted, we tried trot without whip, spurs, or German neck stretcher.  OMG.  5 minutes and I was sweating.  I LOVE Sister - she will GO.  So, we worked at trot, post/push/post/push etc.  Whew.  No push = STOP.  Stop is important, so I guess I love Splash too.  Clearly, the many months off for recovery (Splash) has resulted in Loss of ALL my Splash "leg fittness."  So, in the interest of aerobics, Splash is now officially back in training.  And so am I.

Sunday dawned COLD and the plan was to take 4-H kids to Sheppard's Point at Lake Heyburn to map horse trails using GPS.  How cold is to cold?  We decided to go and got lucky with weather - it was a beautiful winter day.  Sunshine and calm.  The woods were beautiful and the lake bright.  We divided into 2 groups - riders lead by Ruth H (Friends of Heyburn) and walkers lead (?) by me.  I had a rough map of the trails in the park and the riders went to map a trail in the ACE wilderness area.  Riders included:  Melodie, Mandy, Teresa, Dorie, Tami, and Abby.  Walkers were: Ivy, Alaina, Lyndsey, Glenna, George, Diane, Michaela, Kelly, Charlotte, Paige, and Brook.  Dean stayed at base camp as backup.  George kept up with the kids while the rest of the adults brought up the rear.

Riders headed out around 2pm and walkers were right behind them to map the Yellow trail.  Walkers completed the yellow trail in about an hour and then went back out to work on the Red trail.  The pace slowed a bit and walkers returned to base camp about 4:15.  The riders had finished up in about an hour and a half.  All the GPS units will be delivered to my GPS guru (Meredith) for data download and map generation - we will try to get the kids to the lab to finish the map in the next few weeks.  No 4-H members were lost on the trail and Sheppard's Point will be a great place to ride.

The Friends of Heyburn have done a wonderful job marking horse trails and I hope to get back there soon.  ON a HORSE.  YaYa!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Canter in Public

After neglecting Sister's feet for too long, I met Jeff M at Che' Cheval so she could have a trim.  We did a little lunging so Jeff could see Sister's movement and then we opted to keep her barefoot for the time being.  Sister was a little longer on the right front than the left and since she was evened up, we didn't ride on Friday.

But we did have a party lesson at Patty's on Sat. morning.  I picked up Sister for the day so Splash got another day off (he is starting to think he is due to be on vacation forever).  It was cold but the sun was out and the winds were light.  Alaina had a good lesson with Sunny working on lowering the head and prompt transitions.  Pico worked well for Ivy and even gave her some lenthenings after she worked to slow down the "rush" around the arena.  Roxanne and Trouper were looking super - Morgan's have a lovely way of going.  Mallory and Mario had some lovely trot and canter and good transitions as well.  Nancy joined the lesson on Major and even cantered one direction but Kathy didn't get to ride in the lesson since Call was ouchy after her trim on Thursday.

Ivy and Roxie finished the lesson with some jumping!  Go Girls!

Sister started out a bit fresh on the lunge line and not focused for the ground tie work but we pushed through and got mounted in a timely manner (more or less).  Warming up along the rail, Sister was a bit fussy in the bridle but fairly obedient.  We all worked on collection/sitting trot on the short ends and extension/posting trot along the long sides.  I focused on straightness and bends as appropriate.  Then, we all took our turns for right lead canter. 

Alone and from the trot, I pushed haunches in and asked for right lead canter.  Sister took the canter and we cruised the arena with a couple of smaller circles.  It was great!  No kick out and prompt.  Then, we all reversed and took our turns a left lead canter.  Again alone, I tried to get haunches in and proper position and ask for canter.  It didn't develop, I lost my position, Sister lost her bend, we rushed around trying to get it together.  Not pretty.  We tried a couple more times and Patty pointed out that I was to strong with my left hand to allow Sister to canter and that I was giving to much with the outside hand which resulted in to much inside bend.  We tried again.  Finally, got the left lead canter without a kick-out and rode a couple of loops in the arena.  It felt a little rushed but Sister went where directed and dropped to trot when asked.

So, our first canter in public is history and now we will need to continue to get better transitions and more collected work.

Sunday, we got the first part of a serious cold front and the temperature stayed around freezing.  I pulled out blankets to see if any will fit Sunny and Splash in the open barn when the single digits get here Tuesday.  Splash gave me to much attitude, so we lounged until he said he would be GOOD.  Then we did some showmanship/ground-tie and he was contrite.

So, winter is setting in but I am still basking in the glow of our new years ride last weekend.  I am plotting for another ride for Ground Hog Day.  YaYa!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sister's Status -Year-End 2010

My only New Year's resolution for 2010:  "If I can't ride Sister by the end of the year, we will have to sell her."  And, by year end, I was riding Sister - if not cantering nicely left lead.  So, I guess I don't have to sell her right this minute.  Lucky Sister. And Lucky Kale.

2010 Sister Re-cap -
Sister and Krystal in Stillwater - The winter weather was rotten so, even though Sister was Krystal's winter project, the ice/snow/wet curtailed regular work.  Even so, Sister did make progress and Krystal really improved Sister's ground manners and was able to walk/trot/canter and did lots of long trot.  I did ride walk/trot briefly before I brought her back to Tulsa in March.
Sister and Patty in Inola - Sister spent a few weeks in Inola where Patty really worked leg-yeild - leg-yeild - LEG-YEILD!  I tried walk/trot a couple of times before I brought her home for the summer.
Sister's Summer - Ivy and I did lots of round pen lunging and showmanship work. Ivy even took Sister to a 4-H point show for halter and showmanship and to a couple of ride nights.  Ivy and Ruthie tried walk/trot work a couple of times.  I hoped to ride in the Rogers County Fair - but we were NOT ready.
Sister and Dawn in Owasso - Dawn spent the last month of summer working Sister but I didn't try a ride.  Dawn didn't think training was going well enough so I brought her home.
Sister at Cheval Lake in Verdigris - With help from Christian, Sister was finally making progress.  Oct. 1 and I was worried about mounting, fearful of trot, and tentative when handling Sister.  By Nov. 6, I had progressed enough to take Sister to her first dressage show where we rode in a Walk/Trot Class.  By Thanksgiving, I was cantering right lead a little.  Although progress has SLOWED with our canter work, I am hopeful that 2011 will bring success with canter and perhaps enough courage to ride a little trail ride.

2011 is here and with winter in real swing, my riding opportunities have slowed a bit.  But, my last canter attempts went fairly well so cross fingers, Sister and I will continue to make strides.  I hope to take her to dressage schooling shows this year (the new Intro has canter in the highest level) and on the trail at Rita's by summer with my YaYa sisters. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

YaYa's Ride The Walkerosa - Jan. 2, 2011

Sixteen Riders dressed warm and headed out on Sunday afternoon for the first YaYa ride of  2011 ~ the sun was warming and the breezes light so the temperature seemed "almost 40" degrees.  Riders included:  Paula (trail boss extrodinaire), Laura, Tina, Cathy, Judy, Lila, Rhonda, Nancy, Rita, Alaina, Sherry, Patty, Chelsea, Julie, Ivy, and Elizabeth. Jimmy manned the homefires and several more joined in for good eats after the ride.

What a wonderful day and a wonderful ride.  Paula, Rhonda and Patty opened/closed all the gates ~ thanks guys.  We started through the woods and across the creek before we traversed the big pasture east of the house.  Then, down the road and through a couple more pastures and across another creek and then through some more woods as we circled south and west before heading back up the road to get back to the house.  We found a good tree jump and Chelsea inpired Rhonda, Ivy and Laura to try their jumpers.

Horses were well behaved and there were no unintended dismounts.   Ivy on Pico and Alaina with Diez were excited to be included on their first ride with the group.  The YaYa's shared pot luck before loading horses and heading home.  I can hardly wait for our next YaYa ride - Hope you all can join us. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1-1-11 or is it 01-01-2011?

The temerature was freezing but the sun was out and the wind was not.  So, I put on the wonder winter riding boots, fleece pants, thinsulate everywhere possible and went to ride Sister on this first day of 2011.

We had a great ride!

Sister worked well on the lunge line so I worried a bit about the ride to come.  Mounted and made short work of the walk/trot warm up.  Worked on the feel of proper body alignment - ear/hip/knee/ankle - and tried to keep toes rotated in.  The mantra and questions in my head sound like this: 

shoulders level?  hands steady?  elbows in?  seat deep?  heels down?  chin up?  hands steady?  Sister bent with circle?  elbows in?  reins soft?  heels down?  Sister giving to bit?  elbows in?  hands steady?  Sister positioned for transition?  seat deep??? 

Alot for me to keep track of but, based on Sister's work today, we are making slow progress.  More things to work on:  wrist straight and reins back/down for left bend rather than up and to chest or over withers.

Sister gave me canter transitions with-out kickout.  All correct lead.  Left lead was VERY slow to develop but canters were good when finally taken.  We finished with some backing.  Ask for whoa then add the lightest bit pressure that gets the back and keep legs light.  When haunches fall out, move shoulder over rather than pushing the haunches back.  Sister was very good so we walked back down the hill to the barn and, with the wool cooler on to ward of the chill, had a little hand graze.

Tomorrow the girls and I will join the YaYa's for a trail ride at Paula's Walkerosa.  The weather promises to be perfect (for January) and it will be wonderful to ride with friends in the new year.