Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lessons and hunting

Apologies for not updating on my lessons in a more timely manner - I'm pretty stressed about the whole job hunt.  I've been holed up filling out tons of applications and holding my breath hoping someone calls.  Someone did call today and for the job that's my first choice so please think happy job thoughts for me - interview is on Friday.

Onto the pony news.  I had a lesson last Wednesday with Carolyn and it was quite good.  Since all last week was literally a monsoon here, we rode in the indoor.  Charlie was a little wired when I brought him in and made things interesting trying to get on but as soon as our lesson started, he went right to work.  We worked a bit on flexion and then on asking him to really engage with his hind end.  He's a little heavier in the left rein, especially when traveling right.  Carolyn helped me figure out I need more right leg.  I'm not entirely sure why this worked, I just know that it did.  We then played around with some leg yielding and while it wasn't great, I had 2 phenomenal steps of it - probably the truest leg yield I've ever ridden.  I could really feel him cross over behind and engage with his inside hind.  Awesome feeling!  I love my pony!

This was a "river" running behind a subdivision on my way to the barn.  This is a drainage ditch of sorts but it's typically totally dry with grass.  At the end of the day, I think we got in the neighborhood of 5 inches of rain.

On Friday, Cherie arrived but she was too late to give us a lesson.  Buuuttt she got done teaching her clinic on Saturday a bit early so we got a lesson on Saturday afternoon.  It was awesome!  Her style is very similar to Amy's and she really focused in on getting Charlie supple laterally as well as FORWARD!  One thing I really struggle with at home is the terrain.  It's not flat and I sometimes have issues with that.  Ok, a lot of times I have issues with that.  Cherie knew the ring wasn't flat but didn't realize how much of a hill there was until seeing it in person.  She basically said Charlie must go forward from the get go - no half-assing it.  Once we got that down, we worked on flexing in and out down the long side, making sure Charlie was always flexed in around the short side.  We also did some canter-walk-canter transitions to engage his hind end - the point was to walk and immediately canter again.  No worrying about quality of the walk or the frame as long as he used his hind end to canter off.  Then we did a little haunches in and haunches out (very tough exercise for me as I have never really played around with moving the hind end, just the front as in shoulder-in) - we were mildly successful.  I've spent so much time worrying he was throwing his haunches out, that I have apparently over-corrected the problem and he now tends to travel with his haunches in...story of my life.

We were able to jump a bit and since Cherie is a position freak, I told her I really want to correct the right drift thing.  She was able to figure out that I'm taking my right calf off over the fence allowing Charlie to drift right.  Who knew it took so much concentration to keep your calf where it's supposed to be?  We did a couple of little courses and the goal was to incorporate the flat work so I was to really concentrate on making sure Charlie's shoulder stayed on the track and getting his inside hind to come up and under himself in the turns.  Hard work I tell you!  It was really great because I had to think about each and every stride.  When I did it correctly, it made such a difference in our jump.

I got to puppy-sit Cherie's puppy on Saturday while she was teaching.  Kea is seriously cute!  And so well behaved considering she's just a puppy.  

On Sunday, we just hacked and Monday, I flatted.  Charlie was very, very good.  It took a bit to get him forward but holy cow once he was forward, he was on it.  Good pony!  We also practiced haunches-out and haunches-in at the canter and were quite successful in my mind.  I got the ponies a new round bale this weekend and I *think* I have the container issue squared away.  I have this plastic netting stuff I got from dad.  I wrapped it around it like a fence and secured it to itself with baling twine.  Seems to be working.  There's still some spillage until they eat it down a bit but I'm just scooping it up and putting it in spare haynets to be used at a later date.  I'm feeling pretty ingenious right now. ;)

Charlie enjoying the round bale.

You can really see the netting in this picture.

We're off tomorrow for Southern Pines.  I have to come home on Thursday evening for my interview on Friday but Charlie will stay there and I'll head back up after I'm done interviewing.  Fingers are crossed!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jumping lesson and saddle review

Since I told myself I had to write a recap post (which I might add was incredibly frustrating since blogger was being a PITA with my pictures!), I've procrastinated on writing about our jumping that happened last week.  We made the trek up to Tryon to Amy's last Wednesday - it's been a while since we've been to Amy's as in before Thanksgiving.

Amy was running a little behind and I got to do my new warm-up which was even better since it was in a flat arena.  I was pretty happy with how Charlie went on the flat and Amy was as well.  We still have work to do with regards to him pushing more from behind but he's getting it!  

I was a little nervous for the jumping since we haven't really jumped that much - maybe 4 times since our last lesson.  Amy's favorite warm-up exercise is 2 rails on the ground, 42 feet apart.  The goal is to canter over them and get 3 strides comfortably in-between.  I hate this exercise since I can't do the pole thing to save my life.  Charlie was little strong and I had to work harder then usual to keep him supple but forward enough to get the 3 strides.  We then moved onto a small vertical with a placing pole, landing left and then right.  He was quite good for this exercise - I just need to make sure I don't duck right when we turn that way on landing.  This ended up being the theme for most of the jumping.  After this, we did 4 canter bounces.  I was little worried about this one as I don't think Charlie had ever done a canter bounce but he was great.  Amy basically wanted me to gallop down to them and let him figure it out - eeeek!  I think I may have closed my eyes....just kidding!  But I wanted to! 

After the bounces, we moved onto little courses and this is where my ducking really became evident.  My right side is definitely weaker and Charlie is more prone to falling in on the right so that just compounds the problem.  Good thing Cherie's showing up this week - she's going to whip us into shape!  All in all, it was a good lesson and lots to work on - too bad the weather has been crappy and too wet to really ride.

Now for the saddle review.  I've had my saddle for about a year now so I feel like I've had it long enough to have a good feel.  I have a CWD SE01 which is the somewhat flatter model and I absolutely adore it!  I am most definitely a tack snob and will go without before I sacrifice on leather quality and I have been extremely happy with how this saddle broke in and how it's worn.  My second ride in it was XC schooling and I felt so secure even though it had been oiled maybe once.  Charlie likes it too!  I was a little concerned about the foam panels just because I had no experience with them but I really like them so far.  My only concern is how do you know when they need to be replaced?  

I will say the one major downside to this saddle was having to go through a rep.  I didn't really like that process - maybe it was just the rep but I was very unimpressed.  If I hadn't liked the saddle so much (and I mean I flat out knew this was The One), I would have been very turned off of the brand.  

My lovely saddle which will be pried from my very cold, very dead hands.

In other news, I clipped Charlie AGAIN!  For those of you counting, this was clip #3.  I know he doesn't look furry but his coat is incredibly dense and since it was 74 freaking degrees this past weekend, he needed a haircut!  Besides, I had to test out my new clippers (Christmas present!) and they worked brilliantly.


I found this on Facebook for some company I like - can't remember for the life of me which one it was. Seemed appropriate in light of everyone's 2013 goals posts (originally inspired by A Filly's Best Friend).  I've decided I'm stealing SprinklerBandit's goals so I don't have to make my own. ;)


Dressage lesson with Carolyn tomorrow and then hopefully one with Cherie on Friday afternoon.  So excited that Cherie is here for her annual 8 weeks!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A little late but...RECAP!!!

January saw us battling a horrible case of rain rot and making a fun trip to Aiken to cross country school at Jumping Branch.  January also saw me taking my first tumble in a very, very long time.  I learned it's really not fun to fall off an extra big horse.

Rain rot - yucky!

February saw us making the annual trek to Southern Pines to see Cherie.  Well, I went to see Cherie but Charlie went to see his BFF, Alex.  It also saw getting introduced to Carolyn who ended up revolutionizing how I ride on the flat.  I also dug into the archives to talk about my old horse, Fuzzy

 Charlie and Alex - BFFs...

March saw us going to our first recognized horse trial at Pine Top which was pretty successful.  A few bobbles but definitely showed we had potential.  March also saw me struggling with the concept of connection.
Charlie at Pine Top.

April wasn't a great month as it saw the beginning of our many shoeing issues.  It was also the month Charlie decided getting on the trailer wasn't fun so he wasn't going to do it.

Charlie refusing to get on the trailer - bad pony!

May saw me wondering what I really wanted to do with Charlie.  It also saw more farrier issues. :(

Bum foot...

June saw us going XC schooling at Long Shadow Farm with Sara and Maggie in preparation for our show at Carolina Horse Park which I felt was a total success!  It also saw us struggling with more farrier issues.

Long Shadow Farm barn - so pretty!

July marked our first trip to Aiken to get glue-ons but not the end of our feet troubles.  It was unbearably hot and meant I had to get up at the break of dawn if I wanted to ride without melting.  We had a couple of lessons with Carolyn and I really started to get the whole connection thing...finally!

Bruce and Charlie.

August saw me going out of town for two and a half weeks - SuperMom was kind enough to take care of the WonderPony for me.  She did a bang up job!

Pretty, shiny, chubby pony!

September saw us with more foot problems (I'm sensing a theme here...) as well as the start of our lessons with Amy.  The end of the month had us going to FENCE for our last beginner novice - walk in the park for the WonderPony.

Another bum foot...:(

October was our novice debut at the Carolina Horse Park - complete and total success from my point of view.  It seemed like all I did was post pictures.  And Charlie got some "work" done.

WonderPony, Novice - CHP.  

In November, I wrote about the pros and cons of living in the great state of South Carolina.  I also gave thanks because I feel pretty fortunate about my life and everyone who plays a part in it.  November was also the month I clipped Charlie for the second time in less than a month.  So much for thin skinned thoroughbreds...


December was a fairly quiet month and I blogged about how Charlie and I came to be.  I also highlighted some of my favorite blogs and moving on from connection to flexion.

First picture of Charlie - when it all began...

2012 was crazy but lots of fun.  2013 sees me moving onto a brand new chapter in my professional life and fortunately, I have Charlie to help keep me sane.  I'm pretty excited to see where this new year takes us.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Warm-up musings

I must say the WonderPony has been out in full force lately.  I've had a couple of really good rides, especially when you consider he spent basically the whole month of December walking.

I've been playing around a bit with our warm-up.  Since Charlie is most definitely a kick kind of ride, I've shifted my focus to the engine.  In the past, I've kind of focused on both ends and felt like I was playing catch-up the whole ride with regards to him being forward.  Sometime back in November, I decided to start each ride with a 10-15 walk around the property as a get your hind-end warmed-up warm-up thing.  My only requirement of Charlie during this time is that he go forward.  The past couple of days I've started with the walk and once in the ring, we go immediately to canter with a light seat and a soft contact.  We do this in both directions and then come back to the trot.  We trot around in each direction again with a light feel of Charlie's mouth and this is my warm-up.  I then go back to the canter and start putting him together in that gait first before going to the trot work.  It seems to be working - typically the trot is where I feel Charlie suck back the most when I pressure him.  It's almost like he gets his confidence in the canter work and that in turn carries into the trot work.  We still don't talk about the walk...

In other news, I've been working on our simple changes.  I haven't really done this before but for some reason it seemed like a good idea.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well we did.  Going right to left, we pretty much only needed one or two trot steps before stepping very quietly back into the canter.  Left to right was a little more difficult but I think that's my weakness coming through (damn right leg!).  I've also been ending every ride with 5-10 minutes of no stirrup work...yucky!  But no pain, no gain, right? ;)


I took the above this morning.  I think one of my most favorite and soothing activities is to sit and drink my morning coffee with Charlie as he eats his hay.  There is just something so calming about sitting with my pony as he munches on his morning hay.  He'll occasionally come over and visit for a minute, sniffing my hair or my leg before returning to his munching.  I am a very, very lucky girl.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I passed!!!!!!!

So the big news is I passed my licensing exam!  I don't think I've ever felt so stressed.  But it's over now!  Onto finding a job...

Because of the test and the crappy weather, I haven't been doing a whole bunch of riding.  Charlie isn't complaining - he gets brought up for some grooming, cookie eating, and blanket changing, then gets turned back out.  I'm pretty sure that's his idea of heaven.  But heaven's about to come to a screeching halt - lesson has been set-up with Amy for next week and Cherie gets to Southern Pines in two weeks.  Let the torture begin!

Picture from one of our few rides in the last 2 weeks.  Is it just me or does he look furry again?  Grrrr....

I finally sold my old dressage saddle - took almost 6 full months but it's finally gone.  I find this somewhat ironic as I'm about to put my current dressage saddle on the market.  Since I'm not planning on needing it, I figure I might as well move it along.  Especially since I don't think it's the perfect fit for Charlie.  This one should be a bit easier move as it's a County...any one in the market for a County? ;)
I may or may not have spent the saddle money on the above...oops!

Nadine's daughter, Sara, is home from school for the holidays and I asked her to ride Charlie while I was away at the testing.  I got home a bit earlier then expected and snapped some pics.   Sara's horse Maggie, is a bit of a Speed Racer so she got a leg work-out courtesy of Charlie.  She had a tough time getting him to canter which made me feel better!  I think next time she'll take my advice and carry a whip. But he was good and she liked him (what's not to like?).  When she comes home this summer, we're going to play musical horses.  I love Maggie - she is a phenomenal jumper!

I think this looks like Charlie and Sara are piaffeing...;)

So, I'm torn on the round bale.  I made a tactical error and didn't put anything around it so I think a lot got wasted.  The weather hasn't helped either - it's been raining a lot.  I'll probably get one more and and see how it goes.  They're both so chubby I'm not sure they need free choice!

This was after about 3 or 4 days - now, it's basically all spread out and really wet.

I think we established last year that I kind of suck at the whole setting and reflecting on goals (while I set goals last year, I never followed-up) so there will be no goals post as I've decided goals just cause me unnecessary anxiety.  I may do a 2012 recap...I should do a 2012 recap...we'll see... sigh.  I also want to do some tack reviews as I love my jump saddle and I'm pretty happy with my bridles.  Not so happy with my helmets or some breeches.

Sara and Charlie at the end of their ride.