Monday, September 30, 2013

The Weekend Riding Continues

This is long, but I have a lot to catch up on...

Friday, I went to the farm to practice for the dressage test on Saturday morning. While Spyder was eating, I decided to clean up my dressage tack better so I could get a ride in the saddle again prior to the test. I put the test that I printed out in my pocket, and we rode to the ring. I went through each step that I could remember while I walked through the ring. I did this twice, and then thought we should get in some canter to make sure that he wouldn’t kick out again. He did try in the dressage ring to kick out, but we worked through it. I was happy that he was behaving decently so we had a quick 35 minute ride.

Fits him well, I think?
Saturday, schooling show day, I got to the farm and brought Spyder in to eat his grain. While he ate, I cleaned up my dressage bridle since it wasn’t in good shape. I forgot to mention that both were used, but that makes for broken in comfort. Since the tack sat in the barn, it got a bit of mildew on it so I never rode in it being that I never had the time to clean it up (or the desire because we’ve been working on some jumping, and I love my jumping saddle). I got a cover months back thinking that if I cleaned it and covered it, I’d actually use it. Never happened. Now that it's clean, I plan on using it more often.

After Spyder ate, I had to rush to get him brushed and tacked up. The saddle looks so nice on him! Now, I know nothing about this sport, but I think that the buckles should be further down? The straps are really long so we can definitely get a shorter girth, but since I am not sure if this is correct or not, it works for the time being? The bridle was giving me trouble since it hadn’t been used, but we got it figured out with just enough time to get over for our Intro A at 9:18.

It was just a schooling show at the farm, but it was held next door so we had to ride over. Headed down the driveway, Spyder was very up. He stopped a few times, and I had to push him forward to keep going. He listened well, but he wanted to head back to the barn so bad. I kept pushing forward until he spooked at a car that was going fast down the driveway. He always gets funny near the marsh that is on both sides because it’s taller than him and the wind blows through it so it moves a lot. I don’t blame him, but we needed to get over there. I kept pushing even though I wanted to hop off and walk over. We got to the street, and the scary part was over. A car was headed towards us, and he was OK with it passing by which was great!

Once we got over there, the BO asked if I wanted to warm up or go for it. I decided to wing it since I thought I could remember the test, and it wouldn’t have made a different either way. I was SO happy with how we got through both of our issues that I didn’t even care how the test went. Spyder rode into the ring like he had been doing this all along. Although we weren’t straight, we changed from grass to sand, and I was sure he was going to pace (which he didn't.. whoo!). We got a decent transition back to trot at C, and he was perfectly bent down the line. The 20 meter circles were more like squares, but his pace was fairly consistent, and we could at least get the commands going that were given in time. Our halt was perfect (Spyder’s favorite… stopping). 

It was great to hear what the judge had to say, too. She could tell that Spyder resists me asking him to work as he sucks in. She suggested transitions to help with his listening skills and getting what I ask for on point. Schooling shows are the best when you have a great judge because they always offer such wonderful advice. I decided to hang out at the farm for a bit since there was a lot going on: cars, trailers, trucks, unfamiliar horses, unfamiliar jumps. It was all SO wonderful for both of us to experience together. We trotted around the jumping ring, and Spyder didn’t flinch a bit. He did, however, not want to stand still which was annoying. I need to work on standing in one place as he likes to turn his rear end in the direction opposite where he wants to face thinking I won’t notice that just half of him is moving! He’s young and social so I can understand his desire to check it all out, but he doesn’t respond to leg pressure when he’s into what he "needs" to see. He backed himself into a few things moving, but I let him do it hoping it would teach him a lesson. Nothing bad, but annoying. Just stand still! He loves being lazy and stopping… but then he also likes to be antsy and social.

One of the girls from over at "Barn 2" where Spyder is stopped to chat, and her mom decided she didn’t want to wait for her so she drove over to get her  daughter's horse out and brushed for her to ride. It worked out perfectly because she had to walk over to the barn so I went with her thinking it would keep Spyder calm, and it did. We’ll have to work on riding over from Barn 2 to Barn 1 more often, but I usually only do it when I HAVE to. He’ll get better so I need to suck it up and do it.

I let Spyder graze for a while and took pictures of him with his 3rd place ribbon! We were schooling with 7 people in Intro A for the 18+ division. I was THRILLED with third and just happy that we did everything we needed to do even if it wasn’t pretty. We ended up getting a 66.25%, and a great comment sheet with items to work on. What better? I was unsure of why I decided to do this test prior, but it made me feel like we accomplished something (and it got my saddle and bridle cleaned). I put the cover on it so now I plan to ride in it more often. It was pretty painful since I don’t have the right muscles developed to work in it, but we’ll be working on those. My jumping saddle puts me so far forward that I’m accustomed to bad posture when riding. I’m thinking about looking into Spyder’s saddle fit per my last post, but I am still unsure how I can give mine up (I'm going to end up getting the SAME exact brand/saddle). It’s going to be so hard because it was the very first large purchase I had ever made on my own… and with my very first credit card! :) I’m just in the beginning stages of thinking about this, but I’m also going to wait for what the vet has to say next week.
Had to get the ribbon shot
Sunday, I got up early so Chris and I could go out to breakfast together. We have both been so busy it’s been hard to spend time together so we’re going to try to make a point to set time aside for some relaxing each day. We talked about everything going on including Spyder and my test yesterday which made me happy to talk about overcoming so much. We set out our separate ways – Chris to go mountain biking in Delaware and myself, riding. I am in Georgia for work now so I wanted to get a ride in before my flight. The Atlantic City airport is about 15 minutes from the barn so I had to get tacked up quickly and get in my ride to head there. We rode out to the big field where I noticed the brand button on the saddle flap came off. It's no biggie because it’s not broken (the metal is still there), but the button/cover for it with the brand came off. UGH… I think that’s what got me thinking about a new saddle even more. I know it’s just cosmetic, but I’m driving myself crazy looking at the way it fits him.

Out in the field, we headed into the dressage ring and rode through the test again. I wanted to work on our flaws, and we fixed most of the suggestions I was given.  We rode out to the field and worked on trotting at a steady speed, and went over a few x-rails. Spyder was listening so I moved up to canter, but something is REALLY bothering him there. He is not only grumpy but looks uncomfortable so I can’t wait to get him checked out, and I’m happy he’s getting time off while I’m away. We did not get any kicking out which made me happy, but he’s having a really hard time keeping the gait. Because something is up, I didn’t push hard, but I asked him to pick it up and shortly brought him back to a trot and patted him. He stood nicely to be untacked so I was really happy we only worked for 20 minutes. I got to the airport, and of course, the flight was delayed. It was SO nice and it will be so nice this week so I wish that I looked before I left the farm. I could have been going through my tack trunk since I never finished doing that the day prior.

I’ve been noticing an issue with my ankle, and I can’t decide if it’s from riding in my dressage saddle with the long stirrup or from the fall I had where I tried to catch myself. It wasn’t bothering me much since then so I’ll hope it’s just feeling like I rolled it from the strain in the new saddle, but time will tell. It’s always something, good and unfortunate.
Tired from his mental awareness of all the commotion

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Thursday Night's Ride

Thursday night, the horses were starting to get fed so I let Spyder eat first. Again, he was eating like it was his last meal. While he was eating, I decided to clean up my dressage saddle so I could ride in it. Since I committed to schooling Intro A on Saturday and I still had NO idea what the pattern was or where those letters can be found! Anyways, I thought that my dressage saddle was going to have stirrup leathers that were too long, but they were perfect. I worked in the round pen since I couldn't seem to find my safety stirrup rubber bands, and I wanted to use them in the event I didn't ride in the saddle well. It is SO comfortable! Spyder seemed to move in it just fine as I lunged him for a minute to see if he was comfortable.

He's always thrilled
He was bending perfectly and listening to every leg cue, awesome!!! ...until it all fell apart. He was doing w/t so well that I decided to see how the canter felt in my new (last summer purchase, and still had yet to use it) saddle. It puts me in a great spot for my posture, leg, and back so I can sit nice and tall to ask. Asking had gotten a TON better... he gets it! We're back to the kicking out issue. UGH! Last week, you probably read my post about coming off (in my jumping saddle which is forward to begin with), and yesterday, he was trying to get me on the ground again. I got kicking out in BOTH directions, and kept pushing him through and making him go on until he stopped. I was getting tired so I decided to hop off and see how he was without me on him. Perfect. No bucking/kicking out, and jumping the mounting block and water tub like a pro (crazy horse).

Oxers? No problem.
I got back on, and we got more kicking out so I worked him until he was too tired to do it. I was at the farm and working in the dark, oh joy. And this was supposed to be a quick ride to practice for Saturday? I cooled him out for a while because he was so hot/sweaty, and then he was just too cute in his stall. How could such an evil horse turn around and be so sweet again? I posted on Facebook with, "My ride started off with 'omg, I love this dressage saddle and Spyder bends so well!' and ended with 'I hate this horse today!' And so the questions come... what's wrong?

-Is he young and trying to get one over on me?
-Is he hurt? If so, what is bothering him?
-Does my saddle fit properly? If not, what do I need to do in order to find a fitter?
-Am I nagging him with my spur which is setting him off?
-Is something wrong with his teeth?
-Is his leg bothering him so he is exploding? He's not phased when I'm not on him.
-Is he frustrated because it's hard?
-Was working in the round pen too small?
-Is this just a phase like it was before?

All of these questions frighten me. I can't pinpoint what the issue is, and it seems like a lot is in the way of figuring it out. What steps do I take to start the process? The vet is coming on October 8 so I am looking to start there. Suggestions? This is all overwhelming and makes it hard to think about. Leading up to the saddle fitting issue, those bumps are still there. They are not sores, and they did not lose hair. They don't bother him, and I just don't get it. Then, I noticed that Spyder's winter coat is starting to come back in. Where the pad goes, there are a lot of white hairs. Is the saddle too tight? Is the pad irritating him? What's going on? Why now? He has filled out and gotten a lot of muscle so it COULD be the reason, too. I'm so stressed, and I'm probably just over thinking it. Let's hope that Saturday goes well.

Oh, and April has a blog about her Standardbred, Shadow. Check it out!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Shadow"ing the Past

Last night, I went to see Shadow go. He's April's standardbred that is also from SRF where Spyder's from. You read about her coming to watch my Danny lesson, and I thought I'd be great to see him go so I could remember where I was just a few years back. Dom, from this blog, who has also helped me in the past helps Shadow get going, and gives April direction as she did with me. Dom rode him for the first part of the hour, and April got on to ride after.

He hasn't been under saddle long (a month or two), and he's already further than I would have thought (and where I was at this point). He's got a great work ethic and doesn't get frustrated like Spyder would. He stands great to be tacked up, and doesn't have the nippy tendencies Spyder has since he's 15 (I think). When you get Shadow moving, he frames up nicely and can hold a trot for a decent amount of time. He's to the point where his transitions are coming along from a put together trot to a few steps of pace, then back to a trot. Spyder had zero coordination and balance, and for the longest time, he could not get the pace to trot transition. I would have to stop him and then ask him to trot again. GO SHADOW!

I think Shadow will be a much easier horse to bring along than the one I got! When you put leg on him, you can see him thinking. With Spyder, he would think, but it involved anger and the thought of bucking/kicking out. Shadow's such a pleasant horse, and I'm so happy I got to remember where I was just two years back (less the angry horse). We've come SO far, and April and Shadow are going to catch up quickly! I've been in the initial phases of looking for a decent horse trailer so we can potentially ride together on trails and get to some shows. Hopefully Shadow and Spyder get along as well as April and I do. It's great to have such a support system, and April saw the beginning of that when I posted a picture of her horse on Facebook, and other stb owners had great things to say!

Blurry Shadow and Dom getting on the bit
When I got home, I realized that I had driven out to Howell which is where one of my old horses was. When I was looking through my e-mail to give Dom a name of a person that I couldn't recall, I found where I had e-mailed the woman who had Jamboree in the past. It brought up great memories of how sweet she was, and I thought I'd try to follow up with the woman since it had been a while. Going back, I saw that she sent me a picture in 2008. In 2011, she followed up with me to let me know that she was retired because she had a bad knee and may have some issues going on because she had growths. I do remember her having one lump when I had her, but it didn't bother her.

If you didn't read about all of my past pets (at the top of the page, I have a link), Jamboree was the sweetest horse I had ever known. I had gotten her from a family friend for the price of them having fed her a month, and she was skin and bones. I can't believe they had been feeding her for that long because she was HORRIBLE looking when I got her. They purchased a horse from a local dealer, and Jamboree came with her for free (why not?). I worked at a camp teaching lessons, and one of the girls I worked with had actually had her skin and bones in the past (I'm thinking she unloaded her to this dealer, but I'm not positive). Her coggins were from Florida so I did some research and found the farm where she was. They had gotten her in similar condition, as well. POOR HORSE! They were nice enough to send me a photo of her jumping which gave me hope that my big TB would be back healthy and jumping once she got weight on her.

How horrible she looked the week I brought her home.
The only problem with her was that she wouldn't load. I had a horse trainer come out that was supposedly a "horse whisperer", and he worked with her a few hours before telling me there was nothing he could do to help me. This was after I would put food in the trailer and leave her to figure out how to eat (which was horrible because she hadn't eaten in the past and was TERRIFIED of the trailer for some reason - It sort of worked to get her used to being around it, but she hated going in it). My plans of the "perfect show horse" were shattered because we couldn't take her to shows or to my trainer for lessons. When I went to college, Jamboree needed to find a home because I had sold Shayne (you can read about him at that same link - I have a picture of the two of them there), and she was lonely. I wasn't getting home enough to ride, so I posted an ad and weeded through the good and bad replies.

She was filling out nicely
Dirty, but a much happier horse
The day this woman Susan came, I ran home from school and was thinking about Jamboree's trailering issue. I was hopeful that she wouldn't get in because then, I had more time to accept the fact that she was leaving. We worked with her for a bit, and putting a cloth over her eyes, we got her in the trailer in no time. I couldn't hold myself together. I worked SO hard to get her somewhere to work with a trainer so we could show, and it wasn't that hard for 3 of us to get her in for me to say goodbye forever. I had already given them her special feed, oil for extra fat, blanket, personalized halter, personalized bucket, etc. Since they had everything they needed, and I was sobbing, I just turned for the back door. They had asked me if I was OK, and I couldn't even talk to them. They left, and I couldn't watch the trailer go.

In 2008, I asked for information, and they had sent me a picture in which she looked TERRIBLE (not as bad as when I got her by far, but she needed weight). I couldn't help but ask them if they were feeding her like I suggested and reminded them that I gave them what they needed to keep feeding her per vet discussions. The woman didn't answer me because she was not happy with what I said to her. In 2011, I gained the courage to e-mail her again, and all she let me know was they still had her. I pried for more information, and they said they had gotten her vetted in which they found she had a bad knee and had to be a pasture mate (not sure what happened because she was vetted clear when I got her). They also mentioned that they thought the lump she had was melanoma, but it didn't seem to bother her.

Since I came across the e-mail address yesterday, I figured I would give it a shot and see how she's doing. I was surprised to get a response because they stopped responding to me again (I requested to go see her), but I got this back, "Jamboree passed away last year! We had to have the poor baby girl put down the cancer finally won the battle after a year and a half. She had a good life and a few months after she passed away, her boyfriend died. I think it was a broken heart he was never the same after she was gone. Hope all is well." And so I cried on the way to work today when I got this e-mail, and I cried writing this. She taught me so much, and I will never forget that amazing and strong horse. She never held what people did to her against them and loved with all she had.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wild Things

Spyder's not the wild one (except for that fall last ride, but he's over it). Oh, well maybe he is. He stepped on the girl's foot that feeds and would not get off then broke his halter in his stall while eating. The breakaway had stretched so far that the leather snapped so I punched another hole in it (with a screw because it's all I could find to use!). I did buy 2 new pieces of leather, but of course, they are no where to be found. Moving still has me unorganized and scrambling to find things at times. I'll have to rip apart the garage later.

Our ride on Sunday was GREAT! I was exhausted and my back and feet hurt, but I knew I needed to get to the barn because it always makes things better. In the near future, I won't be able to rider as often, and it'll only get worse with the hours of daylight disappearing. There were deer on the way out, there was one about 15 feet away that didn't run, and Spyder was perfectly OK with it even though he was looky. With about 20 deer (and some big bucks - male deer haha) you'd think one would be bound to scare him, but one saved that for later in the ride.
He's thrilled, but his halter is fixed, and that's my new tack trunk in the back.
BIG butt.

When we got out to the field, the deer were grazing and I noticed a HUGE red tailed hawk on the skinny jump. We got about 25 feet away from it, and it flew when tried I to get picture. I was expecting to see a coyote since I'd seen all other kinds of wild things, but none came out of the woods. We worked on w/t  and keeping our pace as we went past deer that ran, jumps that moved, and other "scary" things. He did so well that I decided to move on.

We cantered, and he didn't kick out . BUT he got his feet trimmed on Friday so I always take it easy on him since he gets cut pretty short (for his overreach issue). We did two of the x-rails and then headed back to the barn. It was feeding time, and the horses were all excited and looking at something next to Spyder's field. Once I got closer coming down the track, I noticed a deer on the side of the run in. I was hoping that he wouldn't spook being that we were headed towards the barn during feeding time. The deer took off for the woods about 20 feet away from us, and all Spyder had was a jump and spreading out all fours. He came back to calm and cool moment after, and we continued towards the barn. I think he passed the trail test x2!

"Little" feet. He got a pedi!
I was disappointed because I didn't have time to get everything into my new tack trunk. Chris dropped it off on Friday for me, and I can't wait to get everything organized and in there. It almost has my new initials on it as there is "J.O.J" painted on the side, and I am "J.A.J." The person that I share the tack space with thought that I had my own box that someone got for me and personalized it. It was Chris's grandmother's that passed away and I learned that someone had given it to her father, and it was that owner's initials. It would have been pretty neat if they were exactly mine!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Here Comes the Sun

Yesterday, we headed out to the big field and he was peppy the whole way out. He trotted around nicely, but wasn't getting a consistent tempo so we worked on that. I was fighting his speed so much so I decided to go back to it after cantering to calm him down. I know, I should have stuck to trot and made him work it out, but he had energy so i went for it. We saw a lot of deer, and he didn't care watching them run which was one positive of the ride thus far. He was great to the right which was always his worse side, but his balance there is better.

I switched to the left and he decided it was a good idea to kick out like he used to. Oh, the cooler weather. It was sunny, but a little chilly. I rode through his first kick out or two and then he got in a good one. He used to be so ungraceful and think about it, but he snuck this one in without thought. I was working on sitting out of the saddle to see if that would help his attitude, but it gave him the opportunity to get me off. He doesn't mean for that to happen, but when my balance is off, it's never good. This is the third time in 2 years that I've come off. I tried to catch myself so my ankle hurt, but I got right back on. We cantered a smaller circle so I could keep control and balance then we moved to jumping because I figured I'd leave the canter alone after he went around a few times without trouble. We did 2 different x-rails that I set when I came off (yes, I'm lazy and never get off to do this so it was a "great" opportunity). The first, a huge buck (deer, not a buck from Spyder) came running out of the brush in front of his. He looked, but that was all. WHOO! I really need to attempt a trail, but I think I might wait until it gets a bit more bare in the woods so I can see better, and then we'll wait for cooler weather for the chiggers. I got a few again yesterday and i'm SO itchy!

Headed back to the barn, it was feeding time, and he was getting very strong so we worked on shoulder in/shoulder out down the track. He kept pulling towards the barn so we worked on a nice circle on the track while I counted for our tempo. He did fairly well, but kept leaning towards the barn so we worked until he could forget about feeding time. He was excited to be turned back towards his stall so we went past it and around the barn to cool out. He needs to learn!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Where is Summer?

Ahh, this chillier weather is not making me very happy. The days are getting shorter, and daylight "savings" is NEVER making me any happier. When it's dark before I leave work, I'm miserable... and it's getting closer. Hopefully it'll stay dry so I can use the outdoor flood lights to get in a few quick rides before it gets too cold at night once it starts! I sound like a brat, I know, but I love sun, warmth, and being outside so winter kills the mood.

Anyways, yesterday, we worked on reinforcing what we learned on Sunday with bending and shoulder in/shoulder out exercises.This was in the side field which is near the barn so I had to work on pushing through a circle. He always sways back to the barn on that side of the circle which is annoying to say the least. I had to push harder to keep the pace with counting to keep the tempo I set. We went around until he was consistent then circled obstacles in the field. We started with the bush, tree, trakehner, roll top, and finally went to the brush box (which he was looky with so we circled that again). We went back to all of the others again to keep our cool since we haven't ridden out there in a while. 

Spyder was the opposite of our lesson where he wanted to go forward and pull. I had to push to keep the speed which is the exact opposite of what I've had to do all along. He kept pulling me for Danny, and yesterday, he had more excitement than he has had in a while, but it was a collected and he listened despite the excitement. There were a lot of deer in that field, and he didn't care to look at them. A few even splashed into the water along the field, and he kept his cool. He didn't flinch which was a relief being that he FREAKED out when I first got him and it was hot so the BO's dogs jumped in. The splashing sound was obviously going to kill him so he did all kinds of crazy moves. I was SO proud of him because he's finally trusting me and listening so his focus is elsewhere. He's ready for a trail? Maybe?

Cooler weather has something to do with it, but since he was so good, I rode to cool out around the barn. We worked on being patient with me on board while they started feeding because I'm sick of him getting so anxious and acting like he will never get to eat. He went in his stall to eat (and was so rough throwing the bucket around like he was angry), and then I helped catch two horses that decided to take off when coming in to eat. 

The take off: They are semi-new so they don't get the routine just yet, and the one is a runner. Normal horses stick to those that are close by, but I guess since they had each other, they went. They ran into the field by the house and took off down the track. I ran through trails on the track to meet up with grain, but they were too busy galloping all over the place. I was so nervous because it was getting dark and hoped they would be smart enough to stay out of the woods or stay clear of the street. I took off into field where the BO had her golf cart and was trying to herd them. The girls that were feeding helped chase them back towards the barn when I caught up to them out of breath (haven't ran like that in a while). We all went in the golf cart after them, and they decided to stop for a bite of grass. I hopped out with the grain and caught the "better" one's attention so he came towards me. The "bad" one followed, but was very cautious knowing I was going to grab him. Since I had one hand, I grabbed the calmer horse and we walked back leaving the one that decided to flea to follow. The girl feeding grabbed him once he gave up, and they got back into their stalls without grain until they cooled out. It was complete chaos for about 20 minutes, but I am thankful nothing bad happened.Oh, and chiggers... they are terrible! When I got home I showered as fast as a I could because I saw a few. Glad I realized to check after running through the woods, fields, and tall grass.
He can't let me go behind him without seeing what I'm up to. New cement!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Danny Lesson x4?

April came to watch me ride since her stb is just started under saddle. I thought the Danny lesson would be good for her to see, and hopefully she came out of it with something to use with her horse. I hope to see her have a lesson in the near future with Dom so I can see him move and offer encouragement. She's already started her horse Shadow off on the right path, so I know he'll come along great!

I think this was the 4th lesson we had with Danny. First was just steering and stopping. The second was posture, steering, and stopping. The third was bending and getting him off my leg/into the bit which I have that video in prior posts. So yes, I think this is the 4th like I said. It started off with compliments! Danny knew that I'd been working on what we've learned as he could tell Spyder was more manageable, more flexible, and more prone to respond to aids.

We worked on the bit and did some steering, and Danny could see that  I kept him in a frame well (last lesson this is basically all we worked on with moving off of leg). We worked up to the trot, and it was inconsistent with speeds as well as sloppy. I remembered the two items I was in control of so when I was asked, direction and speed. When Spyder would speed up, I had to turn him and continue the other direction. The turn started with me being sharp, but Danny let me know I needed to guide him and keep my leg with him to hold his balance. Oops. He was getting a bit off balance which made for a few pacey steps, but Danny told me to change my diagonal to put him back in balance. He said, "who cares what diagonal you're on for this  exercise, that's for crap, like showing!"

I had to keep the rhythm and slow him every time that he wanted to speed up. I had to change the pace of my posting and work on squeezing my knees/thighs into Spyder's shoulder to encourage slowing the speed. We did this working in a circle, and when he was listening, I took him around the field to make sure it would stay consistent. It did! Another step that he added was always asking him something at every point of the ride. I would ask him for a transition up to trot, but push him into it moving him off my leg. When in the trot, I'd still ask him to move over with my leg, and then ask him to walk, but use my leg to move him out. This seemed to help Spyder a lot because he's paying attention. Instead of nagging him here and there, you're constantly working and asking. I think he was happy about it!

Now that we have the steering and the stop/go, we can work on the speed and consistency. It must be nice to be blessed with a horse with tempo. My legs, back, arms, and thighs can feel ever bit of the "slow down" steps that we took! I'd say we're getting somewhere... FINALLY! Walking back to the barn, a mini was following us/coming with us because the girl was going over to barn 2 to ride with others. Spyder was fine until we let the mini catch up to us and the moment he stepped in front, he looked at him like it was going to eat him. In his defense, the little girl did have a pink sparkly crop and used it lightly. I'm thinking that maybe Spyder saw that? I have no idea why he was OK with the mini following until it got a bit closer/up to him, but we'll have to work on being around other horses.

When we got back to our barn, I showed April his canter and was curious to know if it looked "normal." She let me know that it looks just like any other horse she's seen which makes me happy because she wasn't a standardbred person before hers (as was I - I had owned one, but never trained him for anything that mattered, I just rode him). It is great to know that someone else is exploring a new breed and trying to make it work. She saw that it could, and we have each other to talk about "horse problems" with!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Transitions

Thursday: Warming up, Spyder was a bit bored. He didn't want to move out, up, or off my leg so we moved on to something that might beabout a bit more exciting... transitions! The trot was slow and steady so the transitions were bound to lift him up. We started one direction with 5 steps of walk, 10 steps of trot, and 15 of canter then came back down with 10 steps of trot and 5 steps of walk to start back up again. I went around about 3 times with that pattern before giving him a break and switching to the harder side.

On the tougher side, we did 10 steps walk, 10 steps trot, 5 steps canter, 10 steps trot, 10 steps walk, and we did this just twice. He was an angel and anticipated each new speed, but I wasn't asking soon enough. Going from walk to trot he wanted to canter, but I was able to slow him to a trot. His canter to trot is a little tough, but it'll get better. Each time we did a transition, it got easier the next time around so I know it was working.

I plan on having a lesson with Danny on Sunday which always seems to help us move along further than I ever thought possible. I hope this one goes as well as the others, and I hope to not get too anxious or nervous! Dom from other posts (and this blog) put me in touch with another rider of a standardbred from SRF. It turns out that her horse and Spyder are related per grandfather (I think? - No Nukes)! She's going to drive down to my house Sunday to head over to the barn for my lesson to see Spyder go. In the beginning of my training, I was right where she is now so it'll be good for both of us to chat and have support for the struggles! :)

Oh, and there was talk on a board on Facebook about bloodlines. I posted a little bit of Spyder's, and Dom let me know this: "Western Paradise is a very famous standardbred sire. No Nukes had a nasty temper but was a brilliant racing stallion. Many of his grandsons make excellent riding horses. His mother comes from Tyler B and Laag lines, both of which are very well bred. Abercrombie was one of the founding sires in the breed." 

There is a book out there that talks about the breed as a sport horse and looks into the lines which I might have to look into getting to read more about the breed. In the near future, I plan to get the links to all of Spyder's lines to see if there are photos available and/or breeding information. I know I came across TB and Morgan when I did a few quick clicks! 

Someone on Facebook told me that grays run on his mother's side... She said, "you have some really good names there -- Albatross, Meadow Skipper, Most Happy Fella, Abercrombie -- Laag is a great gray producer -- and YAY! we're related! Tyler B is my boy's grandsire on his mare's side!" Me, "his mom, "little red light" is called "RED" for short.. but she's 100% gray now!" Her, "well, Arcane Hanover is a Bay and Painted Night is a Roan, which might explain "Red."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm back!

Monday BEFORE I left, I never got to write about our ride. A pony came trotting over while I was warming up so I went around  the track and field at walk the the owner. She trailers in to ride, and I had ridden with her and another horse of hers two years prior, but she didn't remember that far back. She also didn't know that stb's came in "colors" because she pointed out Spyder has white on his face and legs. She also never knew "they" could move so good. His trot was lovely and HUGE she said. Oh stereotypes.

The welsh pony Spyder had never seen - at first, he was alarmed.
Tuesday, I did some jumps. Of course this was after we did w/t/c, but he was forward so we worked on jumping. I did forget that we did some trot poles where Spyder really had to think about his feet and REACH to get through all of them. We worked on forwardness through them and then slowing up and getting round after. From there, we'd circle and do the trot poles coming the other way. Since he was picking his feet up, we moved to jumping. I did another new jump because he was feeling our ride. It is what I'd call a brush box?... without brush? haha. It's just an open gate sort of jump that's in other pictures, but I forgot to snap the shot for this post. It'll come back around.

Thursday, I wanted to ride before the flight out, but I didn't want to get hurt or chance any sort of injury/soreness before the trip. That didn't work out for me because I ended up weeding the garden and was sore for a few days from all of the hard labor (sort of). It was nice of a girl at the farm that feeds to instagram a photo of Spyder and tag me in the post with "he misses you" for me to see what I was away. I had her fly spray him when I was gone because I felt guilty not being around to do it (this time of year they always seem to start up like crazy again).

I can post a brief summary of the trip if anyone cares to read it. Switzerland was the most beautiful of all the countries we visited. We got to see quite a few horses there pulling carts and a few on the menu at restaurants.

I wanted to ride 9/9 when we got back, but couldn't fit it in, and I was getting sick (still am) so he had off 2 weeks. Lucky Spyder! Even though my throat was killing me, I went back at it this past Tuesday, the 10th. Fresh air and standing up seems to help my congestion but not breathing. The BO poured cement while I was gone for the tack area/cross ties outside Spyder's stall so I had to walk across it to get my tack, and luckily, it was dry. It was REALLY hot so we did 30 minutes out in the field. There were lots of deer and a coyote, but Spyder just looked and didn't flinch... not bad for having all of that time off! I focused on flat work and making sure he remembered everything we were working on before I left.
Spyder kept moving, but the coyote is right past the fence line. Horrible picture, but it was a big one.
After I rode, I talked to a girl that feeds at the barn and found out about a horse that I got screwed over with a purchase (just before Spyder). It was a good thing I didn't end up getting him because 1) I have Spyder, but 2) he was returned to the people I was going to get him from not just the first time but a second. That story will stick with my mind in knowing that I was let down (and screwed over by people I knew my whole life), but it was totally worth it! I'll leave it at that... everything happens for a reason! :)

I hope to be able to breathe while I ride tonight and then look forward to getting in a day this weekend if all goes as planned.