Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back at it

I got to ride yesterday which was the first day back since the wedding (and the week before). I left work a bit early to make sure that I had enough time in the event he had a lot of energy or wanted to act up from sitting for a week (and I couldn't find him because he moved to the field next to his since his needs a rest and that one has a ton of grass). He did not have a case of energy. Spyder was more peppy than usual, but that lasted about 15 minutes. What a lazy horse! He listened to my leg fairly well and remembered what we had learned in our Danny lesson. We had a smooth, comfortable trot that looked really great since he was staying round and putting forth an effort.

That lasted long... we had to push through some lazy spots. The rhythm gets lost when Spyder doesn't feel like going. I know it's still hot, but it's been low humidity and lower temperatures PLUS he sat. There is no excuse! The cluck is coming in handy to keep him listening and in a steady pace. When I am posting, my voice has to set the pace and keep him going along with my leg. Hopefully we can work through lazy, and it's good switching up the routine to keep him excited.

We did a lot of circles on the bit, and worked on w/t transitions. A figure eight around a jump with walking and changing the bend in the middle before picking up the trot again got his attention. He was very quiet, and I'm glad that I have a horse that picks back up where he left off. Level headed and quiet is better than a crazy peppy one. Go Spyder! I am looking forward to riding this week (only Thursday, though). I have a wedding in Virginia this weekend so next week should become a more steady schedule. I'm excited to get back to a bit of jumping. The jumps at the "adult barn" are always set pretty high because no one changes them so I am thinking of riding next door. The lesson jumps are better. Yes, I am just as lazy as Spyder and don't want to get back on after I get off to fix the jumps. I'm guilty.


Brushed his tail out

Always drinks as soon as he's put back

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Track Time

I got some time on the track this week, but this wedding is really cramping my riding and "what I want to do" schedule. This week has been a lot of what you HAVE to do vs. what you WANT to do. Anyways, I got on for a quick ride as the humidity is KILLER! It's finally cooled off into the 80's, but that doesn't stop the sticky gross air we have this time of year. Spyder was visibly miserable being tacked up so I know it'd be a fun ride.

On the track, we warmed up in our 20 meter circle. I put him into the bridle and made him work on suppleness as he had off 6 days. Moving off of my leg was too much to ask, and since he wasn't too motivated to do anything, we worked on a lot of w/t/halt. FUN... not. From there, we did get into the canter, but the sand is a lot of him to work wit. He's much harder to the right still, but we'll get there. Need to work on that balance and steering! We worked on moving parts of his body so I pushed over his shoulder and did a few spins then worked on moving over his hind end. We need to get back at riding and practice because he wasn't too responsive. We cooled out on the track since the ground was soggy.

He looks thrilled.
I hope that it dries up a bit to get out in the field again after the wedding (Saturday) and get back to jumping. Next week promises more riding. :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy Horse

I updated my last blog with a funny comment from someone taking pics at the show. Warmblood/Standardbred... same thing, right? Hahaha

Tuesday, I got to farm and I was sweating just sitting there. We've had this crazy heat wave which should bring us into the 100's today and tomorrow. Sheesh! I am still hoping to have the wedding ceremony outside next weekend so I'm hoping it cools off for a long enough period of time. We should be seeing the 80's again next week. I feel bad because Spyder is probably sweating up a storm, but I have comfort in knowing he's the boss. He'll be the one in the shed, and I've also seen him play in the water tub.

Oh, and I am not happy with how he's looking. He's definitely more fit, but that's balancing down his weight. He's not skinny by any means, but he's looking more like he did when he raced. His food is up since he's working harder and he keeps busy stomping flies all day. I'm REALLY not happy with the "rib" look. :(

I tacked up quickly to get to riding and get Spyder hosed. His feet are looking better, as the hoof isn't as contracted. I've been working on it thanks to comments from that post. I put a check for the farrier at the barn so I'm hoping he gets done this week. His over reach isn't too bad, but the flies are giving him all kinds of  cracks and chips. I got on after having to fight with him over grass, and I am teaching him that it is rude to put his head down when someone is trying to get on. I used my dressage whip to remind him that he wasn't supposed to eat. I got on, and the whip was a fun item to hold because he KNEW I had it. Again, we need to work on the fact that it means "do something"  vs. "speed up". Obviously a whip with racing meant FASTER so it's been a fun process!

Another rider and pony came over to the farm for schooling jumps and xc so we rode in the big ring with them for a bit. Spyder was excited and acted up in the dressage ring, but I kept him focused and put him right back on task. I was proud of how I handled his attitude. All he wanted to do was look at the pony. We did w/t/c in dressage ring, and the canter to the right is still unbalanced which makes it less than enjoyable and not easy for either of us. I don't know what we're going to do to work on it, but I need a plan. We did some w/t/c in field, and worked over jumps. There were a lot of ground poles set up so we worked on a "course" which was basically making sure we could steer to all of the obstacles. There was a decent cross rail set up, and we did the wishing well. Spyder gets bored with jumps easily so we'll have to work them up higher. I just get lazy once I'm already on and don't like getting off to set jumps. Good horse! He got a hosing session which he's come to really enjoy with this heat.

Oh, and I've just started with Instagram (figured it out, kind of):
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Social media changes so quickly, and I try to keep up!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Saturday's Memorial Show

This show was so fun, but as always, they take forever! English was in the morning and western in the afternoon, but they ran late as expected. I did 3 classes because I missed the jackpot (oops - I was glad 3 kids got some cash to get something for themselves), didn't want to do showmanship since I pulled Spyder out of the field and put him right on the trailer, and opted out of a course. The 18" crossrails were enough for me after arguing with him all morning! I REALLY want to get some western tack/clothes, but I should probably ride in my dressage saddle first.

We got there around 8am so I had to feed him prior to tacking up. I thought about showmanship, but he was behaving and I didn't want to get him all worked up in the ring before getting on. I tacked up and had all of my show gear on, and I could not believe they were making us wear jackets. Of course, half way through my second class, they said we could take them off. I was SO happy I drove an hour and a half to buy a short sleeve shirt - THANK GOD! It was only in the 80's and we got a light rain for part of the day, but the humidity was awful.

Lucky #13

Our warm up went well, and he had one "moment" which was a hop/squirm/rear buck thing. It was small and harmless, and I rode through it like nothing. We just worked in our circles before going into the ring. [UPDATE] In the warm up ring, someone was like, "OMG, is that a warmblood?" I was like, "Well, he certainly doesn't move like one, but that's the best compliment you can give a Standardbred!" She said, "Yeah, I thought it was just a warmblood with a bigger head!" LOL, I let her know that Stb's are known for that! Too funny!

English equitation made me nervous, but I was assured by the judge that I had my heels down. The judge was very nice and gave everyone criticism to let you know how and why you placed where you did. SITTING TROT killed me. 1) Spyder is NOT comfortable even at a post 2) We go much too fast to sit the trot 3) We NEVER practice for reasons 1 & 2! She let me know that she had a standardbred that did everything: english/jumping/and western. She liked Spyder, but that sitting trot... Yeah, we'll have to work on that... maybe. "You never know when a judge will throw that in there." Oh, shush.

-English Equitation - 3/4

English Pleasure went well, but we weren't in enough contact. I went with the "look relaxed" look rather than the "cranked in and on the bit" look which is what the judge was looking for. She let me know that she saw Spyder do it, and knew that he knew how. I guess I didn't know how to show in that class! This is how we warmed up and what we've been working on so it would have been nice to show off!
-English Pleasure - 2/3

Hunter Hack was a lot of fun! We started in the ring with w/t and then lined up for our jumps. We've only jumped in this ring once, but the 18" crossrails weren't much to take on. We trotted up to the first and then cantered. OOPS! We were only in a w/t classes. I tried to bring him back down to a trot, but the excitement of the second jump left us with a pace. I was SO proud that he didn't flinch, and he was super happy to be in the ring jumping. He's super willing and has yet to let me down at a jump. We don't jump too often because our flat work and listening needs help so it was fun knowing he's down for anything. His halt at the cone at the end was amazing, and the judge let me know I need to sit right back down after the jump to reinforce the "slow down to trot." I was asking him with my hands and not following through with my seat.
-Hunter Hack  - 3/3

Since I was pleased, I skipped the course being that we never did one (even though he would have been fine), and my arms hurt from him being so strong all day. I should have packed the Kimberwick, but we haven't gone back to that in quite some time. His excitement gets the best of my muscles! All in all, it was a great day. The prizes were wonderful as they got a lot of donations, too! Each time you got a ribbon, you could pick an item from a bucket that they filled. I got a new grooming mit, a hoof pick, and a lead rope. The memorial show also got a check from someone so it can continue on for the next few years. Hopefully I'll be able to support them next year, as well!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tuesday Makes x3

Oh wow, 3 days in a row! This really never happens, but I am glad it has. With the wedding approaching in a few weeks (less than 3!), I need time to get away from the planning. Still, I have yet to become a Bridezilla and no one understands! Haha... Anyways, Spyder is looking fit, and we're really learning to work together which has made me so happy. He's a MUCH happier horse when being ridden, too!

Of course my drive over to the barn was a rainy one. After I changed into my riding clothes, it was still raining, but I was hopeful it would stop. I got all of my tack out, and sure enough, it stopped while I was grooming Spyder in his stall. He was already in and finished eating when I got there which sped things up. We did another quick ride (25-30 minutes) because he's getting it. There were so many "good notes" to end on that I had trouble stopping. With 15 minutes in, I figured I should push a little harder. Since everything was wet (yet again), I worked on the track in our circle from the day befor.
We're staying in the lines... kind of.
Again, walk with the bend and trot with the bend... then on to canter. We can steer to the left, but with the open space and new area, he tends to move towards the barn and really pull to the right. We end up on the grass and cantering sideways because his body goes left, but I turn his head right. We'll have to come back down a few speeds to work on steering and position/bend a bit more because we're both not getting it in that direction. I'd hate to see what it looks like from on the ground! Again, the right was a bit pacey as he couldn't hold it as long. I'm glad we've finally got that buck/kicking out thing over with for the most part because it makes the ride a lot more pleasant for both of us.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday's a Drag

Monday's are always a drag, and so I went to the farm to lighten up the day and my mood.

Yesterday, my drive to the farm was into a storm. I got there at 530, and the 30% chance of thunderstorms led to a  down pour until after 6. When I left work, it was 94ish, and it was 71 after my 25 minute drive through rain. Thunder and lightening scared some of the horses out of their sheds, and I just sat in my car to watch the storm pass. I enjoy a good storm! The rain lightened up so I went to grab my tack to clean it if it didn't stop. I saw Spyder in the shelter which made me realize why he stays so clean. He was hanging out of the run in because  he heard someone coming. He didn't want to come out in the rain, but his ears got wet being so curious. He was happy to see me, but wasn't coming out to get wet.

Storm on the way to the farm
Spyder looking out at me in the rain.

I got super close to rabbit, too! I know, it's just a rabbit, but it was cute!

Cute little thing!
Since the rain stopped, I grabbed Spyder to tack up (of course, it's better than cleaning tack). I had a quick ride which was about 25-30 minutes on the track. I figured that was the least wet place since everything was saturated, and it is nice because you can see where you are working. The goal was to keep close to the same circle we started with. We worked on bending right and moving off of leg at the walk which I did without a dressage whip but not well. Up to the trot, we fell apart again, but I worked on it back at the walk and kept moving up until we got it.

Even when it rains, it's the perfect place to ride.
We were doing so well to the right, I tracked left, and again, the good side was on par. We worked up to canter and picked up a great left lead canter. To the right, he still can't hold it as well, but I cut him some slack since we were on the sand which he is not used to. I cooled out as much as I could before the crazy feeding time began where the one horse busted out of the gate (as usual), and there was another loose horse to catch. I put Spyder in the round pen to grab the one that was out, and then he ate while I put everything away. I didn't clean my tack for the benefit show on Saturday, but hopefully I will find time later this week.

Oh, and Spyder has a new tactic when he doesn't feel like doing anything. He'll turn his butt to me in his stall and put his head in the opposite corner. I have to walk over and get him! He's a smart horse which is always a challenge. Below is his "please let's not do this right now" face. :)

Attempting to "hide"

Monday, July 8, 2013

With Hard Work, We Progress

So Friday was a great ride. It was a bit warm, but we had the perfect breeze. Spyder wasn't in the mood for a ride, but he perked up quickly and was easy to handle. We started with w/t and got balance going. From there, we picked up the canter. It was AMAZINGLY easy to pick it up (to the left, of course). Once we trotted to the right, I was having trouble getting him off my leg. It took a few circles, but FINALLY, he started listening. Since he was moving over, I pushed up into the canter which was also very easy for whatever reason. He can hold it longer because he's finding his balance, and he's starting to get moving off my leg at the canter, as well. Whoo, maybe soon we can do BIGGER circles.

On to the Danny lesson yesterday - OH BOY! We walked over to the indoor very bravely, and he was just a bit perky/excited/nervous. It was100% my fault because I was nervous, but the heat made me realize that he wouldn't be moving anywhere too quickly. It was 95 degrees, and I had a 2:45 lesson. Had I known it would have been so hot, I may have not signed up, but I sucked it up because he doesn't come too often. The indoor was nice because we got out of the sun, and the ceiling fans were going which helped with air flow a bit. I'll have to go over to the indoor on days when it's really hot if I want to ride without the sun. Normally I wouldn't have ridden on such a hot day, but we had things to accomplish.

To start the lesson off, Danny asked me what I would like to work on. I had to think about it, because I'm not sure where we left off with our other two lessons. I remembered - the first was w/t/STOP because stop wasn't working... and the second was w/t/STEER because we worked on my posture, but steering was not an option. I decided to ask to work on rhythm and balance because I let him know we get a running walk or a pace when he's off balance (but it's also a laziness issue). We started off with a quick trot warm up in both directions around the indoor. Danny could see that I've been working with him as the trot was a lot better than prior lessons. It was great to hear I did something right since the last time he saw him move.

We worked on a circle around Danny while moving the shoulder out. I used a dressage whip to push his shoulder out when he wouldn't listen to my leg. At first, he kept speeding up with the whip in which case my outside rein had to dictate the pace. He kept trying to trot off which was frustrating so I had to keep bringing him back down. Danny let me know I let my horse get away with murder... bad habit, I know. Once he got over that the whip didn't mean SPEED UP, it means MOVE OVER, we were looking great. Danny was pleased with his form in the walk so we moved up to trot... failure. We looked like a sloppy mess, and he let me know it. Then I got asked, "why can you do it at the walk and not the trot?" Good question? It's because I was too busy flopping around. So lesson #1: Outside rein to set the pace, inside rein to pull in his nose for the bend. Easier said than done so we worked at the walk again. I had to keep my outside rein and hand at the saddle and close my inside hand until we got the bend.

Keeping my hands steady at the walk was easy, but the trot they were all over the place which was the problem. We then moved back up to trot once I got my hands under control. This time we got it, but Spyder was picking the pace. We worked on slower, slower, slower, and Danny assured me that there is no rhythm issue. Once he is balanced, his rhythm is great. I just had to learn how to keep him there and to keep his shoulder out. Spyder was getting frustrated on the one half of the circle and pulled a little angry/rear/hop up stunt, but I rode through it well (oh no, being asked to get off my leg is SOOO terrible). I am so happy that he pulled the act just once and that I could keep riding him like it never happened. We took a walk break, and I needed it! It was so hot, and I was bright red/feeling like I could pass out. Whew, summer is killing me.

I wanted to switch to the left because that's my stronger leg and the easier direction. So when Danny asked me to grab my reins to start up the same exercise, I said, "Same direction?" He said, "Of course, you think I'd let you do the easy way? I remember that the right is the weaker side!". I thought I could catch a break, but he let me know the once a month or so was not enough time to work on the "easy side". We were doing so well on the "hard side" so I got to switch direction at the trot. I had to keep using my weak right leg which was now the outside leg since he gets it so easily to the left. I knew I'd be sore the next day (but it's not as bad as expected). We kept switching back to the right since the "bad side" was getting to be so easy.

I REALLY enjoy Danny lessons because he's tough, and you get a lot accomplished in just one hour. You're always getting questioned and ideas handed to you that make you think. He's always asking you things over and over again so they stick. The next ride, you know EXACTLY what to do because you repeat what you're doing throughout the lesson out loud. It's a great way to teach because you can't forget unless you are not participating in which case he lets you know it. You might get asked (which I did), "Now what are you doing wrong?"... when you're puzzled because you're doing things right (so you think). The point is, you think, "What am I doing wrong?". Well, nothing. The answers are sometimes complex and usually simple, but you don't think to say, "Umm, I'm doing everything right." It's positive reinforcement to remind you that you know what you're doing while you're doing it.

I had to repeat to Danny (out loud) "this is the hard side" a few times while we went around to the right in a perfect circle to remind myself that we accomplished what we were looking to do. Also, "outside rein sets the pace, inside rein turns his nose" must have been repeated ten times. Then I got asked, "and what else are you doing?" I also had to add "if the inside rein doesn't make him move out his shoulder, then push him out with the inside leg."  Saying this over and over again is going to help my next rides immensely. I'm looking forward to the next lesson because we were looking like a dressage team! The trainer/BO took a video of us once we got through the rough spots and changing direction. It's hard to see the difference between either side because he was so good in both directions! :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coming Up!

We've got a lot going on. I plan on riding prior to my private lesson with Danny Warrington on Sunday, AND I have a ride with Dom scheduled on Monday! :) YAY! Hope both kick my butt into gear! The 13th, so that following weekend, we have a "fun/benefit" show. I will post updates on all rides and events when they happen, but wanted to wish everyone a Happy 4th! :)

Oh, and below is a picture of cute twin fawns that I saw last week and never posted!

Cute! On the way down the driveway.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Celebrating getting to ride 4 days this week! With the wedding coming up, I need to keep myself busy and focused... riding helps! I have yet to become a bridezilla, and with less than a month left, I am proud to say that! Saturday, I had a very quick ride because I had to meet up with the photographer and get to my bachelorette party!

I got the the farm around 10:30, and was ready to get up and go since I had to leave/get off around 11:15. Lucky Spyder because it was on the cooler side again (because it NEVER stops raining), and I had a time limit. I grabbed my tack and saw Spyder's face pop up in the stall. Umm, OK? What's he doing inside? Why was he being so quiet? I mean, I was happy because I was rushing and he was right there, but he's out 24/7. He comes in to eat, but he was just hanging out. "Oh hey, you're here. I'm finished eating... can you get me out of here?" I guess that when he came in to eat, they forgot to put him back out. I know that he comes in around 8 - 8:30 so he'd been in there without water (which I didn't think of until after).

I didn't bring it up to the BO because it's not THAT big of a deal, and I HOPE it was just this once. Do you think this is something I need to bring up? "Just so you are aware, Spyder was never put back out?" Just like the wedding, I'm lax about my horse. I don't tend to worry much as the BO lives on the property, and the vet lives up the street. I assumed since he was in that he was hurt, but I walked him around, and he didn't appear lame. I figured if he was hurt, I would have gotten a call... so I put him on the cross ties and checked out his whole body to see if maybe he was in for a cut or something. Nothing, he was just forgotten. I know it's not a big deal, but the water thing kind of upsets me. Had I not come, would he have been left there until dinner? Would he have been thirsty as the day got hotter? I know, I know, he wouldn't have died without hay or water for a day, but poor dude. Next time, Spyder needs to be a little louder and not hang out quietly in the stall next time. Good horse, yes... but make a scene if you're forgotten!

I got on and headed over to the track since the ground was wet. The sand was PERFECT for riding, and there were no puddles as they have been dragging it a lot. We used a huge area where we practiced our pace at the trot and the canter. The canter was a little rough since the sand makes it harder to move, but he tried his best. The left is still wonderful, and the cue is on par, but the right is something we need to continue to work on. Since it's not his best side, I feel like he's a little more hesitant to pick up the canter that direction. Nagging him with my spur seems to work perfectly, and I think I need to get something a bit more "wake up and go" so that we can pick it up that direction. I'll have to look for a new pair, and then bring them back down once he's a little better at being asked then responding.

Since he was so good and wasn't complaining about the right lead/nagging, I walked him around the farm to cool off. We went in the field with the cross country jumps, and he didn't throw any fits. The only issue we had was him drifting towards the barn, as usual. This happens on the track when he's unwilling to work, and I was just persistent in pushing him forward and looking where I wanted him to go to get him there. Once cooled out, I hosed him off and put him back in his paddock. He was happy to have water (poor dude), and to get to the hay that he looks forward to after his grain. I watched him roll (thinking he would do the sit like a dog move which he failed to perform), and then he looked at me and made me feel bad for leaving. Back to another week of a chance of rain/thunder/storms EVERY day!