Thursday, February 16, 2017

2nd Friday Lesson With Harold

So I know yall might be tired of me bragging on my horse, but he really is pretty darn awesome. Just sayin. ;)

So last Friday I decided split second as I was rushing over to feed Harold before driving my oldest to school, that I would just load him up and let him eat his breakfast on the trailer. That way I wouldn't have to go to school, drive all the way home again and then go back to town. I knew I would be a little early to the shop to drop off the kiddos (meaning, my mom doesn't get out of bed early well, lol and wouldn't be there yet) but I figured it was better to be early rather then running late.

Of course Harold was pretty excited he had grain in his manger and hopped right on, all four legs this time, lol. And after I got to the shop he just chilled in the trailer munching on his hay while I waited. I settled both kids in with some breakfast and put Hailey in her jumpy hanging from the doorway and Shelby watching some youtube and figured my dad could handle it until my mom got there.

I learned that morning that I would be sharing the lesson with a home schooled girl on her little gypsy vanner. He's so cute! But like pony sized, lol. He can have a bit of an attitude and I had never rode Harold in the arena with another horse before. Well, I've never rode him with another horse before period actually! I wasn't really worried but it did add a element of the unknown for sure!

So I pulled into L's right before the girl I was riding with and we tacked up pretty much at the same time. I have rode with her several times in lessons so we knew each other fairly well. She's sweet.

Harold did great standing in the cross ties and I had him ready to go in quick order. I decided to walk him around in the arena first before moutning up just to make sure he remembered all was cool. He makes me smile every time we walk into the arena when he puts his head down and checks out the sand, lol.

Harold did great with the other horse. It was pretty amusing how he would speed up to follow him and then slow down to wait on him when the other horse got behind him, but he quite doing that after a bit.

Uh, yeah, the arena is not scary, mom

My first ears picture in a lesson with Harold!!
So it's been more then one sleep since the lesson (hah) so let me see if I can dredge up what we did. I'm sorry but having a major brain lapse. The main thing I remember is we CANTERED! I know! He was so awesome. I was afraid I would have a lot of trouble getting him into it but he was actually better then Charlie is! And got both leads each time no problem! Go, Harold, go Harold! (I will say I had to imploy mister whip a few times, hah) He also gave me some great trot work yielding to the bit.

We did some trot poles again but this time in a circle like we do in regular lessons. He did pretty good! Here is a video of one of our canters and then the poles.

Yeah us!! Of course my butt was bouncing out of the saddle nearly the whole time and my heel was up, but hey, we did it! Poor Harold needs some definite muscle work to strengthen him up for better position, but all in good time! I'm just so excited we were able to get leads, no bucking or other antics, and pretty good departs! Those are all huge wins for me!

So I watched the other girl do some jumping and and let Harold get his breath back. We are definitely not ready to jump but it was fun to just chill in the arena and watch. After that it was time for some treats and a brush down and a drink for Harold (he drank like a bucket of water! Thirsty boy) and off to get my kiddos!

Whatcha doin?
Monday lesson! The rain stayed away and we got to get a lesson in, whoop. I was on Charlie this time, which I was happy about! I've been on Goldie for the last three lessons I think. I don't know if she thinks I like Goldie or what, lol. Anyway, I had a lot of trouble this lesson unlocking his 'give to the bit' button. He was being a pill about it, just throwing his head up and pulling. I finally figured out I could ask for it on a circle and usually he would give it to me. He did unlock his mouth a bit towards the end of the lesson but then it was time for jumping!

So I haven't been in my hunt saddle for like over a month now, it felt really comfy but I haven't jumped in forever exept for that bit in the lesson last time. And it showed! I was so loosey goosey over the fences with a swinging leg. Sigh. So I'm hoping to fix that next time! I know it just takes time and repetition. I was pretty sore the next day but not too bad!

Last night I was able to get Harold out for a short work out before church. I wanted to ride but knew I didn't have time so I just grabbed him and suited him up in his bridle and surcingle. I then stood on a feed bucket, jumped up on my belly and swung my leg over and rode him bareback to the round pen, hah! What a good boy. We even opened and closed the little gate to the pasture! 

So he was pretty up that night, it was windy and quite cool. I think he was also a bit nervous about round penning since the last time I worked his butt off. I made sure he wasn't afraid of the whip and then sent him around. This time I had a lunge line run through the bit and over his poll so I could have some more steering control. I warmed him up without side reins both ways and then hooked them up. He did a lot better then last time and I really saw a lot of improvement with his give. He hardly ever pulled on them and I got some good work out of him. I even had him moving out at the walk and trot a lot faster then normal. We may be able to canter a bit with them next session as long as the footing is good. But I may need to get his fitness up a bit more at the canter first, I don't want to overface him.

We also walked and trotted over three ground poles a bit too. It was kind of soft footing around them but he did good figuring out where his feet were. One time he hit them wrong and actually cantered two of them. Good boy!

Well that's all for now! I found out I will be showing Goldie at least at my first show of the season. I hope I can become better partners with her before then! L wants me to come and watch the March shows and then start showing myself in April. Can't wait!

Well thats all for now. I'm hoping to be able to work Harold with side reins again today, although hooked up to his dressage saddle, and then ride after. Since I know we can canter without dying now, I might do a bit of that if the ground has dried out enough!


PS, If anyone is out there reading, I'd love to hear from you! Share your blog if you have one so I can read yours! :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Training Days

So I'm going to skim over last Tuesdays lesson real quick. I rode Goldie, and had to ride in a Wintec of L's because of a miscommunication. I was thinking we were doing just dressage and it turns out we were also jumping, lol. It was an okay saddle but not mine, you know? So I felt a little off in it.

Lean back!! I think this was the free walk of Intro B
I'm really getting annoyed with myself. I feel like instead of getting better here lately I am regressing. I think it all started when we began to do more dressage. I have gotten so used to sitting in a 'hunter perch' that I have a really hard time sitting vertical and not forward a bit. What is the deal! I'm also still having trouble sitting the canter. I can two point or forward seat it all day. But keep my behind in the saddle? HAHAHA. Grr. Any tips anyone?? I know all about the scoop, sitting back a bit, etc. It's gotten better but still needs work. I want to get solid on the lesson horses before I try to canter mister Harold. I havent loped him since I rode him western two years ago. I feel like on a green horse I might want a 'o crap' strap on my cantle, haha. His mane is pretty long but farther away then I'd like if I lose my balance! I'm also wondering if it will help me anchor my behind a bit too.

Gosh, I just got back to this post and so much has happened. I'm so behind!

Anyway its Monday now and I had another lesson at L's with Harold on Friday and once again he was absolutely wonderful.

Anyway last lesson on Goldie we first did dressage and then onto the jump arena. Goldie wasn't real into listening to my aids for collection again but we did an ok test.

I decided to take my spurs off for jumping and so glad I did. But it was kind of disappointing because L said I was just letting her pull me over the jump instead of knowing where to take off. I wasn't sure how to fix it and left the lesson a tad morose. Although I was proud for staying pretty solid when she jumped a crazy jump and went sideways in the air over it to look at it, haha.

This last week it rained so no lesson on Monday. Today should be good to go though!

So! Harold news. I didn't get to ride the week after his first lesson and just got one side rein work out in. But this last week I was able to ride twice! Hailey was nice enough to space her naps perfect for me to he able to ride after work.

He did great the first ride, the side rein work had helped a ton already, plus I wasn't just throwing my reins away at him anymore like I used to when he gave to the bit so he had somewhere to direct his new energy when I asked for contact.

Pretty pony in 'school'
So each ride I could hear L in my head saying, elbows by your side, close your hands! Shorter reins! Lol, and I tried to comply every time I thought of it. I also asked more of mister Harold and didn't 'baby' him as much.

So fuzzy!
So thats about all for now! Next post I'll talk about our Friday lesson! And I also had a jump lesson on Charlie last night. 

Till then!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Rockstar Harold

He was PERFECT. I mean, it kind of scares me for future lessons. How can we top this?? Lol, but seriously we have a lot of work to do and things to learn. BUT his overall behavior and been there done that attitude was EXACTLY what I was hoping for.

So the morning didn't start without a hitch though. I had the girls up earlier then udual and we were still pushing the envelope getting out of the house when I wanted because they weren't cooperating like I wanted. Still, I was able to get the horses fed and my oldest to school on time. I ended up pulling the trailer through the drop off line to save time, haha. I can't wait till it looks a little more like a horse trailer and not a pile of junk on wheels that's slightly embarrassing to drive.

So I rushed home, grabbed Harold's blanket, threw that on him and loaded him up! I had a slightly harrowing moment where I hooked him up to the trailer tie before all 4 legs were in (unknowingly!) and the dog started barking at him and I thought we were gonna have a wreck. But thankfully I was able to de escalate the situation and all was well. Whew!

He's a wild one

So we pulled up at L's finally after another issue with one of the trailer tires was dealt with by my dad at the shop were I dropped the kiddos with my mom. We were a tad late so L was kind enough to grab all my stuff out if the trailer and have it ready for me at the cross ties while I took mister out to check out the arena.

He was a saint. Never even thought about spooking. Just looked around and calmly strolled the perimeter with me. He was a tad curious about the sandy footing but no issues at all.

So then I lunged him briefly both directions at the walk and trot and called him good. L helped me tack up since I was running late and then out to the arena we went! He was a little wiggly at the mounting block but L held him for me and we were off to the arena. It's been a week now since this all happened (have NOT had time to sit down and write about it lately!!) so I'm a little fuzzy on the specifics. I do know that I found out I baby him WAY too much, and I let him be lazy way too much! She had us doing a good steady trot and asking him for a lot more then I usually do. We also worked up to a set of four ground poles to trot over which was SO fun!

Isn't he cute?! So I also was having a issue with too long reins and not keeping my elbows by my side. Also open hands. I don't do these things in lessons, so it's apparently something to do with Harold. I think it's because he carries his head so low!! She at one point told me that I looked like a QH rider about to go into a HUS class, lol, eep.

Anyway we did a lot of half the circle around her at posting trot (and over the poles) then we would do a sitting trot trying to get him to round a bit. By the end when I started riding right! we were getting pretty good! We also did quite a few turns on the forehand, which he had never done before. But thankfully I have worked with him a few times on moving his hind end over off my leg so he had a bit of a clue. And he did great! L said he was really stepping under himself well.

Here is a short vid of us doing the trot poles!

She said he did so good and loves his pretty head, lol. I was thrilled with him, really was. As if you couldn't tell! And it was windy and cold to boot! Not a problem for Mister man at all. L also told me my saddle was not too big for me. Yeah!

I did get hot and sweaty in my ski jacket finally! And, him so perty!!
L had to go so I leisurely untacked him and brushed him down. Filched some of the horse cookies for him from the feed room, lol. He stood there just as quiet as you please. Then loaded right up! This time putting all four feet in, thankfully!

I went over to get the girls from my mom and my 11 month old had just gone down for a nap. So we hung out with her for an hour or so and he just stood out there and munched on his hay. Such a good boy!

I guess that's about all! So proud of him! I've decided to do every other Friday at L's with him for right now. Once we get into spring I will probably try and bring him to lessons to ride. Although I won't be able to do jumping with him when they do, so not sure how that will go yet. It will also be interesting to see how he does in the ring with 3 or 4 other horses! Which reminds me, one of the things I was worried about was how he would do with other horses around he had never seen. He did great obviously! Acted like he didn't care at all. He would look at them and then be like, whatever.

Photobomb by Charlie! Haha
Well I do have another lesson update from last Monday, and a side rein session I did with Harold to blog about! L suggested that would be good So look for those soon! (hopefully!) Today is too wet to have lessons, boo. So unless she can find a time to reschedule me I will be back at L's on Friday with Harold! :)

Monday, January 30, 2017

Lesson Recap and An Outing Friday!

*NOTE: I just realized I didn't post this last Thursday like I was supposed to! I'm writing an update on our lesson and will hopefully post it today! It went SO GOOD!!!)

Fox Hill Farms
So I'm so excited about the second part of my title, that I'm going to tell yall about that first.

I'm trailering Harold to L's tomorrow! I know! So exciting. I feel like I have him in a good spot finally so we can go out and get some new things to work on to progress us. I kind of feel like I am floundering a bit on what to do next, besides just make what we are doing now better. I've never trained a horse all the way through in english and I want to do it right!

So the plan right now is to go to L's maybe two Fridays out of the month. I hope he does well tomorrow!! I know he is generally a good, quiet boy. But he has had moments where he can get silly, just like any other horse! I think the main thing will be all the different horses there. There are horses in the pasture where we will park, in the stalls in the barn, in the pastures by the arena. Plus if we ride in the pasture by the road there will be cars to deal with. And there are woods on the far end of both pastures that even the school horses look at sometimes, lol. Although of all things that will probably be the least for him since he lives in a wooded area.

And its supposed to be PRETTY cool in the morning at the time we will be there. Probably around 40 degrees, boo!! But sunny at least!

So the plan is to run over and feed the horses early (hopefully before the kiddos wake up) and drop my eldest off at school around 7:50, get back home about 8. Hook up the trailer and load mister Harold up (all my tack etc will already be loaded in the dressing/tack room). Then I will head to the shop where I work to drop off the baby and Shelby girl with my mom who works on Fridays. And off to L's!

Last week I got to ride real quick on Friday afternoon. I parked the girls in the field again and rode in our pasture 'arena'. He was so much better this time then last. He was still speeding up and pulling toward the barn but not near as bad! And he wasn't lazy or too fast. Good boy! I actually toted all my tack from the parked car to him, tacked him up in the pasture and then rode him back to the arena. He was a STAR. Love him!! I worked on some circles and riding him with contact again. He kept cracking me up though with his speed games. If we were heading toward the pasture and buddies, zoom! If we were heading away, sloooww down. It was like automatic. After a few circles he gave up on that though, until we would change directions and he'd start it all over, lol.

Silly boy wondering why Chloe was yelling at him, lol (ears up!)


On lunch at work today I had to hit the feed store while I was out. WELL they have a new lady in there that has been actually ordering horse stuff! And I was like, uhh, I need that and that and that. Husband is gonna be like, what the?!

My haul!
So I grabbed a trailer tie which I've been needing, a new halter (isnt it perty!?) and a eggbutt bit I've been wanting. His rope halter got chewed up by the dog, and I figured he needed a nice one for outings anyway ;). And a bag of grain later and I'm out of there minus 80 bucks. Eep. 

That night I tried his halter on him and did some flexing in his new bit. He did awesome!! I'm so excited about tomorrow!!

So! Tuesday I had a lesson. I had a choice to ride Charlie or Landon. I chose the known rather then the uknonw, lol, and grabbed Charlie who was also conveniently in his stall. He did great! It's been several weeks since I've rode him. We did quite a bit of jumping that day too! We started out just with a cross rail and then worked up to a small 'course' of three. Nailed it! So. Much. Fun. After we were done I wasn't scared to jump him anymore at all. The last time I jumped him he would still try to stop right in front of it on you. He didn't even hint at it this time, yeah.

So I will update again after our lesson!! 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dressage Lesson!

Last night I got to have a lesson again! The weather was cooperative two weeks in a row! Amazing!

It has been SO WARM, here in the south lately. Like nearly mid 70's, LOVE. IT. We had a beautiful weekend and I got to ride Harold Saturday and the girls got to ride their pony Sunday. I'm soaking it all up! I know it will turn to the 30's and 40's again soon.

As you can see, the girls had a great time! And they were SO brave this time! Last ride they didn't even really want to move. I got Shelby to walk but only for a few strides. This time they both rocked it! They led her around first a bit and then Chloe rode and she did so good! No crying and was getting her to woah by herself and also turning her a bit. She even was nudging her with her heels to get her to move again. Which Snowy didn't seem to have a whole lot of experience with as she jumped the first time Chloe tried it (although she did kind of kick her the first time, lol, because she misunderstood what I said). I wish horses and ponys came with a carfax of sorts, haha. I'd love to know what actually went on in her life.

On Saturday I rode my main man. He was a LAZY SLUG. I was wishing for a crop to whap his butt with fervently. When he decides he's tired and doesn't want to go faster I can barely get him to speed up with pony club kicks and smacks with my hand on his butt. And it severely wears me out!! 

SO, before my lesson Monday I made sure to dig out my spurs I have been meaning to find for the last couple months. And then will be making an appearance next ride!

Anyway, I put him in his new dressage saddle again, and our NEW white saddle pad that arrived! He looked beautiful of course! 

I love vertical flexion shots, ;)
I did a bit of groundwork before hand (mainly lunging for respect) since it had been quite a while. Then I tacked him up all but his bridle and started the video. It took me a good 10 minutes to find a place I thought at the time, would work to see us most of the time. Yeah...not so much. Anyway, then I went in and fitted him with my bitless bridle (Dr. Cook's) I feel like he is still concerned and chewy with the bit when I try to take up more contact, so thought just for kicks I would see how he did in the bitless. WELL, he was a lazy slug. Lol, so after getting tired of lazy, very dull reactions to my aids I jumped off and swapped back to his bit. Which was instant sensitivity again, yeah. I may try a different bit on him. Any suggestions?? I need to get a new one for his dressage bridle that should be shipping in a few days anyway.

Is an eggbutt my only option there?? Or a loose ring? Which I don't really like...I'm even thinking about a french link of some sort. Let me know in the comments! Don't be shy!

Fixing stirrups, thought it was a cute picture of Biscuit and him, lol

Our bending attempt. Love those posts for that!
Ignore the dog, lol
Sorry for the icky quality, they are all video stills. It was a rare ride without kiddos in tow! So we worked on more contact with my hands, also lots of bending. And going straight in the direction that I want instead of weaving all over and trying to constantly get back to his friends. This all happens at a snail walk as well, lol.

One time the mini and Chatterbox took off to the back of the pasture to see the other horses across the fence and he got all excited and acted like he wanted to follow suit which made me a tad nervous! But all I had to do was pull back and put him on a circle and he shut it down. Good boy!

I had put a post that fell over in an area we could walk or trot over it and we walked over it a few times which was fun. I will definitely hold off on the jump training until we can get all this other dealt with! Steady, good speed at all gaits, good acceptance of the bit, good bending. Sigh, seems like such a long list. I wish we had a nice arena to work in, as always. But I just have to make do with what I have! 

Lesson report! I rode Goldie this week. I decked her out in my dressage stuff and had my new spurs I found and also a dressage whip I found in the closet. I didn't need the whip but definitely strapped on the spurs. Which turned out not to work as well as the lesson I rode her with spurs last time. She was like YES ma'am, the previous time, although still very heavy. This time I never did get her all the way on the bit, and any time I tried to use my spurs I got the next gait instead. But it was still a decent lesson. We did some bending exercises and then ran through our perspective dressage test we each had been working on.

Her head looks halfway decent here but we were coming down
to a walk and I was pulling pretty hard! Her downward transitions
are pretty sticky

The sort of 'artificial' give she did all ride is shown here.
 And yes, I had my sleeves rolled up! It was WARM!

Here's the vid of our ride, along with my instructor L's comments, lol. She kept telling me the whole lesson that day to put my shoulders back and I didn't understand until I saw the video. I thought she meant to square them and pull them back. Not lean my entire body back. I was sitting forward the whole ride like a hunt seat rider! Dummy! I guess it's because she takes so much hand to ride I just get pulled forward. But if she had said to SIT BACK I think I would have done better. 

ALSO, she told my my saddle is a tad too big for me, ugh! I was afraid of that. In a deep seat like that I think I need a 17. The 17.5 was really for my knees, which are not a factor in a dressage saddle. Boo. I kept sitting on the cantle too much as you can see in a few pics and on the video. I'm not sure if it's going to be bad enough to have to sell it or not yet...

Well until later!! Hopefully the weather will be nice to me again Monday! Looking like rain again, though, blahhh. Supposed to rain from here till then, yippee.