Monday, December 20, 2010

Blah Again...

I'm a little delinquent....
Call it lack of motivation...
Call it not being in the mood...
Call it NOT looking forward to the Holidays at all. I will fill you in tomorrow...promise.

In the mean time - Feel free to contemplate what happens when one of the cats does a flying leap from the stall, lands on your horse's back and chaos ensues.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blah Winter...

My horse, keeps me sane - if it wasn't for him, I would have jumped off of 100 bridges by now. It is hard to stay motivated in the winter. It is cold, it is dark, it is windy, it is dark....
When I go ride now, I find myself wanting to be better then the last time I rode, more so then during the summer...is that weird? I think it is...you should ALWAYS want to do better then the last time, regardless of the time of year. I think I know the reason why...since Chester has rehabbed from his injury, we evented twice, (the first time being 10 days after he jumped for the first time in 6 months having NEVER schooled xc before), and really just got into a program - I would say at the end of September. So, I feel like in the past 10 weeks - we have accomplished more then in the past 10 MONTHS...he just gets better and better and better... which is what I think it motivating me more now (in the cold, frigid, white North) then I ever have been before during winter. I WANT us to do well...and, while winning isn't everything - it sure would be nice to win an event next year. I have never come first in anything before...I would probably cry.
We have 4 1/2 months before the 2011 season starts...let's hope we can stick to our plan for the upcoming year (and heaven forbid not have a 6 month set back, knock on wood) and accomplish our goals. We WILL be going training by September.
AS much as I find myself being motivated right now - probably because I have a LOT of energy because I do not have anything better to do during the day - I would much prefer to be one of the lucky ones who get to head South for the winter...that said, as soon as I win the lottery on Friday - I am packing us up, and heading to Florida for the winter...you know, to train with KO'C or something.
More soon - we are going to jump tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baby it's COLD Outside...

To the point where my school yesterday was 20 minutes long, with a lot of long and low and a 20 second canter so he could stretch his legs.
The ground is frozen, there is no snow and my horse is hesitant to walk (because it is icy) and he just sort of shuffles along.
The best part, is coming around the side of the barn and getting smacked in the face with the wind. That part R.O.C.K.S!!
Can you see my horse...yea, me either - and it is FREEZING...AND it is not even really winter yet. Sigh - I wish I had a ba-million dollars so I could be one of those lucky ones that goes to Aiken or Ocala for the winter...so, until I win the lottery, looks like the poor Pickle and I are stuck in the Great Frozen North.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Figured...

Yeaaaah - I called it.
Boss looked at Chester and said 'from now on, I am the only person who clips your horse'... and then she laughed out loud for a good 2 minutes.
....sigh....
Lesson update later - all I'll say for right now, is: it was a DOOZEY.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More Boogeymen...!

Just when I thought it wasn't possible, we have uncovered a new species of horse-eating-boogey-man. The creatures hide on the outside of the arena door and when you ride by, bang the door really quickly making loud, scary noises. Of course Chester has every right to be absolutely terrified and almost make me break my face when he jumps sideways 17 feet for no reason.
Other then that, Monday and Tuesday have been fantastic schools...we are really nailing down our trot-canter-trot transitions. Did some canter poles last night too and he was great...as long as I remember that I have to ride him! Ha.
Haven't jumped since last week's lesson...it will be interesting to see what we work on in today's lesson!!
More soon!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Learning Tools...

Horses are learning tools...probably the best ones, come to think of it. There is not one day that goes by, where I don;t think about Chester, the other horses in the barn and how they all constantly make me think of ways to better myself.
I was out with one of my girlfriends the other day and the subject of positively came up. I looked at her and said 'You know, I have to be in a positive, relaxed state of mind whenever I am around Chester, because if not, everything I try to accomplish is just simply a disaster. It is almost as though he is my calming effect....that makes me crazy doesn't it?" She said it didn't, but I don't think I believed her...completely.
I learn something new about myself every time I ride my horse. From patience, to relaxation to determination to counting to '10' so I don't have a freak out when something doesn't go as planned. I could write a book just on what my horse has taught me about myself....
The most recent good example I have of this, was from our lesson last Thursday. We are working on Chester's front end - getting a better jump out of him and bringing him to the next level of his thinking. Mainly, getting his leads. This has always been a little tricky for him - even more so since his injury in March. He is much better to the right, then he is to the left and he is much more comfortable landing on the right, then he is on the left. The Boss set up two jumps on the diagonals, almost kiddie cornered to 'x'...I wish I had taken a picture of it because it is hard to explain. It is riding a figure of 8 with jumps just on the 'other' side of 'x'...meaning, the exercise is...you got it, asking to swap leads over the jump...Not as simple as it sounds. You know what else isn't as simple as it sounds...jumping from trot...don't even get me started on that one! As we moved through the exercise, we built on it as follows:
1 - from a trot, ask for the canter the stride before take off, get the lead, come back to trot, change diagonal, repeat.
2 - as above, keep the trot, then add in the second fence over the other diagonal.
3 - canter into the first, if he lands the lead, keep going over the pattern. If not, simple change, trot through the diagonal and repeat until we land the lead
4 - canter the whole thing, landing all leads.
When we started, step 5 seemed near impossible, I couldn't even land his correct lead out of a trot...pretty frustrating. There is a trick to getting leads - look into your corner (d'uh right?!), open the rein for the lead you are looking for and ask for the change before the fence...okay, SERIOUSLY? I am lucky enough that I remember to release enough to let Chester jump now I have to help him land his leads?! Jezzzzzzze. Luckily for me, my horse is brilliant and my coach is brilliant, so it is basically waiting for me to become brilliant. Joyce says, the more we do these sorts of exercises, the easier landing his leads will become, and he will eventually recognize where he is going and what lead he should be landing on and do it himself, AND he is about < > that far from his flying changes...I can feel it!! I don't like doing those sorts of exercises without Boss being there, so she said to mimic the pattern using our ever trusty canter poles and ask for the swap over the pole...so, we will work on that.
Things I need to work on: shorter reins, better release (Boss - "annnnd, why exactly is it you are releasing towards his withers?" Me - "uh - good questions?" Boss - your reins are too damn long and your ass needs to get out of the saddle!!"), getting my ass out of the saddle.
So - what did I learn?! When I think I am asking enough - I'm not and need to ask twice as much to get the result I am looking for. My horse is green, but he is smart. VERY smart. If I practice my patience, let him understand what it is I am asking him to do, if ask him properly, then we will go far.
I love my 4 legged learning tool.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ding Ding Ding...

Chester, 1
Carrie and the Clippers, no score.

Well technically I think it would be 1/2 a point each.
He was great for the first hour, and then he just had had enough...so, he now looks like a redhead with a hack job...sigh, poor Pickle.
I would say it is about 90% done, just need to do some touching up and around his head... should have taken a picture so there would be proof of the damage. I did get a little frustrated and numerous times told him that all his friends in the field are going to make fun of him for his bad haircut, but that didn't work.
So, tough for him...

Clip Clip Awaaaayyyyy....

I can see it now - Chester will know something is up the moment I put him into the crossties. It is me vs the clippers vs the Pickle....Full. Body. Clip.
Actually, he is a gem of a boy when it comes to stuff like this and he could care in the least what is going on around him...when we trace clipped him last month (which was pointless, because his hair was still growing), he just stood there and I swear he was falling asleep...and the 'pickle' made its appearance as per expected.
I just entered a WAY COOL contest on Facebook for a new ECOGOLD xc saddle pad. The pads are fantastic!!! as are their xc boots...humm, might have to buy a pair of those for Christmas for Chester!!
Oh - Lesson update soon...it will be a doozie!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Withdrawl...

I haven't seen the Pickle since last Wednesday.... :-( I miss him.


BUT - I will see him tomorrow AND - THE NEW ARENA IS DONE!!! YAAAAY

WaterHorse

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Importance of Seeing Distance...

I am looking forward to going to the US to spend time with some of my extended family. I actually, can not wait...
Lesson today with the Boss was a turning point...literally...that, or we were just really on point. As always, Joyce is such a positive influence on me. Not just in my riding, but overall as a human being. She is always calm, cool, collected and ALWAYS sees the bright side of any situation. She has faith in me (as a rider and someone who is good at what I do in my professional life) and knows I will be able to find something much closer to home for the next step in my career. In her words ' who REALLY wants to commute 25 hours a week anyways?!'...I owe a lot to her: for making me want to ride better for her, for turning me into a better rider for Chester and for always knowing I have her to lean on when it gets tough...and trust me - it has been a rough week so far in terms of my spirits, but I remain positive...especially when I come away from today's lesson on such a high.
Within the first 5 minutes of our lesson, Joyce's reaction was, "wow, he looks relaxed". And he was - I have been working at not bothering him as much and letting him do his thing...which is really me asking him to do his thing...anyways...We continue to work on straightness, we continue to work on impulsion and my damn left hand!!!!! I always curl it....I am going to try holding my crop in my left hand to see if it makes any sort of distance. Our half circles have improved, I am still fighting with myself a little on our circles with my outside rein....sigh...who knew riding a damn circle was so effing hard to get right?! It always amazes me how good of a coach Joyce is. I could give you about a million examples, just from today's ride, but this one sticks out in my head the most. We're trotting around,circling here and there and she yells out to me 'Open your knees a little and let him move'....as soon as I did - I could feel his entire body and back just instantly come up and under me...it is amazing what that woman can see...and more importantly, relay what she sees to me in a manner that I actually understand. = GOOD COACH. I have to be 'stronger' with my contact/half halts in our upward (and downward) transitions to and from canter. Joyce 'HOLD HIM, do NOT LET HIM POKE HIS NOSE OUT' Ughhh - I have a hard time with the right amount is 'ask' with my half halts - but by the end of the lesson the transitions were much better.
We continue to work on his front end...and getting him to use his body more properly...I will explain. Boss is setting up our jumping line. At first, we had a couple small 'x's' set up which we approached on an angle from both directions. Then onto a one stride. Notes so far: shorter reins, PATIENCE ( when the jumps are tiny like they are now 2'9', I have to let him take me over the fence...more on that later), better release. Then, Joyce lengthens the distance. She says to me "Come through the line, count your strides, I am not going to tell you how many it is." I look at it and knowing that we have been trying to get him to lengthen into his stride, I sort of gage it to be a long 2. I come through and do a completely horrible job and put in 2 1/2 strides. Not good. I look at Joyce, she says 'So, when you know you did 2 1/2, what does that tell you?' Ummm - a long 2?! Joyce: NO!!!! a SHORT THREE!!
This is her explanation. She is trying to train me to see the distance better. On an awkward distance like the one we did today, she said I need to get him closer to the base of the jump in - MAKE HIM WAIT- sit back and get three bouncy strides in between. This will help us with a number of different situations.
1 - It will help him get his front end up and out of the way. My horse - although I love him to pieces - is NOT that natural jumper who has good technique. He needs help. I, as his rider, needs to provide him with that help...meaning, I have to see the distance better and help him get the best jump possible.
2 - Closer to the base of a jump (on the jump IN) is better on an awkward distance...especially when those jumps are 3'3 solid logs that do not fall down.
3 - KEEP THE RHYTHM THROUGH THE CORNER...so so so important.
4 - As Chester's pilot, I have to sit back much MORE in between the fences to make sure he doesn't get all sprung out and then jump a 'flat' jump out = sticky situations.
5 - Most importantly, by keeping him together and bouncy, ALL his energy will be in his back end, making for a better jump out and minimizing the chance of us getting into trouble.
All in all, we are making strides in becoming a better team. Joyce put it into perspective for me today. She basically said this: I have only had him for a year and for 4 of those months, he was recovering from an injury. Another 4 months when I first got him were our growing pains months, so, really he has only been in true 'work' for 5 months...and what a distance he has come over those 5 months...I mean, a week and a half after he was off for 4 months, he went to his first event and if it wasn't for us getting a whack of time faults on xc, he would have come 2nd... can't complain about that at all eh?
Oh Oh Oh Oh!! Next week's lesson...WILL BE IN THE NEW MASSIVE ARENA!!!! SO EXCITING!!!!
My favourite quote of the day from the Boss: "I think he is going to do really well this year."
Have a great weekend everyone - Chin up & kick on!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daylight...

Things that I have done over the past 3.5 weeks since I have been off:
1. Ride during the day
2. Eat dinner before 9:00 p.m.
3. Walk - regularly - almost daily - with Aaron
4. Appreciate the smaller things in life
5. Have lessons (during the day).
The Daylight makes everything better...I find I am at my worst when it is dark out. That is when all the bad thoughts and 'what-ifs' go through my head. I friggin hate what ifs.
We have a lesson tomorrow and then we are headed to the US for the American Thanksgiving for a couple days...get to see my dad, extended family and SHOP...Hooray for Black Friday!
The Pickle was a good boy today - once I was able to get his attention and focus. There were trucks bringing in the footing for the new arena(WHICH WE GET TO RIDE IN BY THIS TIME TOMORROW NIGHT!!! HOOOOOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!), it was super windy so the doors were all banging against the frames, causing him to freak out, AND the sun was juuust at the right height to be coming in through the plexi-glass to shine right into my eyes as we were riding. It was a good time...
I am excited for our lesson tomorrow....1/2 circles, bring it!
More soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Success...!!

You know it is a good thing when 3 minutes into your lesson your coach goes "You've been working on your legs haven't you?" I BEAMED!!!
Chester is at the point where getting him to do more is now my complete responsibility as a rider. As in - his big moving free striding trot - now is to become just as forward, but more collected, slower and MORE IN FRONT OF MY LEG...eff my life - this whole 'in front of my leg' thing is really starting to get to me. Ha. Ugh -so I have to basically keep the same momentum and impulsion but make his trot more together and bouncy...sigh. Half halt, leg on, half halt, leg on, half halt...you get the picture. Needless to say, this is HARD for me and for him...AND he HATES it...because it is harder. There were numerous head tossing and stomping of the feet (on his part not mine) during our lesson. Poor Pickle. We spent a lot of time doing half circles and really trying to get 4 or 5 strides of straightness over 'X'...so hard...hence the smaller, bouncier trot I need...I see where Joyce's head is at at least!
Our jumping - is pretty good - for entry level...we will be spending the majority of the winter doing bounce and gymnastic lines to get his front end working a bit better... In our lesson, we did a canter pole, jump, bounce pole on landing...and I worked on getting him to leave when I wanted him to leave, getting the timing of my aid down and getting his correct lead on landing. I also have some homework, mainly on my position: I need to release more (without throwing my hands up his neck) and I need to work on getting my ass out of the saddle more...sigh, squats in the mirror, here I come.
We don't need to jump that much...but when we do, we are going to keep it simple. A big 'X' in the middle of the arena at well, 'x' and then work on getting our turns and right leads on landing. The good thing with this exercise is there are a TON of options to jumping the single fence so it will never be repetitive. We can angel the approach, some at it on a circle etc etc. The more technical stuff I am not comfortable doing without Joyce there...and we have a set lesson time now too, which is great!!
So - today, we work on our trot and out Big 'X' at 'x'...
More soon...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tomorrow's a Big Day...

We have a lesson tomorrow. I am a little nervous considering that we haven't had one since what I will now refer to as 'the Day' a couple Mondays ago. So, it has been two weeks and 5 of those days, he wasn't ridden because he had his back adjusted. I was all prepared today to school for a good 90 minutes in preparation for tomorrow - BUT he didn't need it! Everything I wanted to work on, he picked up on right away and it was wonderful.
I'll tell you what else is wonderful - being able to ride my horse in the middle of the day, in the light, when it isn't -40 outside....I am looking forward to seeing the Boss tomorrow and planning out our winter - which includes an indoor hunter series - shoot me now - but we are going to also set some really attainable goals - and I am looking forward to that.
As for the rest of my life outside of the Embarcadero - email me anything you would like to know.
Update tomorrow after the Boss kicks my ass.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ahhhh...

You can't go wrong when you don't have to go somewhere you hate .....and replace that with riding during the day, in the daylight, in beautiful weather like we have been having.
It has been the best 2 weeks of my life...
Went to the Royal yesterday, spent time with The Boss and Kelly and basically had the best day I've had in a loooonnnggg time.
Lesson on Monday - at 3:00 p.m....ain't life grand?

Monday, November 8, 2010

...where to begin...?

Everything happens for a reason, I am a believer in that statement to a 'Tee'. Several weeks ago, I found out that my job was in jeopardy. My employer was considering outsourcing their HR Function...which equalled me. As the sole practitioner for the employer, I was on the line. Last Monday, that 'considering' turned into a reality and I was outsourced. It leaves me in a little bit of a jam, but I remain positive and will pull out of it as best as I can. Think positive thoughts for me...it'd be appreciated.
As for Chester - it means I can ride during the day, in the day light, and not feel like I am in a rush during the week. Which is great.
He hadn't been ridden since last Wednesday when I got out there today...why? He was adjusted last Friday, his back was completely out, and then I was at a wedding...so he had a good solid 5 days off. Everyone agreed, it was a good thing for him...and I think it was. He was pretty happy to see me today when I got there. As in walked up to me in the paddock...which melted my heart a little bit. The break did him well and he was happy and relaxed to start working again. We did some long and low and some transition work. He didn't break a sweat...and then we went on a hack - it was a bright ans sunny day out and I am taking advantage of the fact I can ride during the day now.
Where does this leave me...? It leaves me with the opportunity to look for work MUCH CLOSER to where I love. It leaves me with knowledge I MUST be positive in order to pull through.
Most importantly, regardless of all the changes that happen in my life, it leaves me with the one thing that I know will always stay the same. Chester.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bad Carrie...

Ugh - I suck.
I will try to update in detail later this afternoon about what has been going on in my life. Some good, some not so good. Ahhhhh -the ups and downs that life presents to you....

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad...!!!

I am delinquent - I know.
More in great detail over the weekend...
I have a lot to talk about.

Seeing the Pickle tonight - he continues to inspire me
Seeing the Boss tomorrow - she continues to kick my ass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Next Step...

I should really start off by saying that the 'next step' should really be for me to update my blog more regularly....the past several weeks have been somewhat busy for me in the office and my best friend's wedding in in 3 weeks, so there is a lot going on.
We had a lesson on Saturday afternoon, so I figured now would be a good time to start to try and be more consistent in my blogging.
I'll back-track...on October 9, 2010, Chester and I celebrated our One Year Anniversary!! Amazing isn't it?! The profile picture for this blog was taken a couple minutes after we brought him home for the first time. I will have to try and update it tonight if I remember and post a new one. I can not believe the difference in this horse from a year ago. What a year it has been too. For those people who religiously follow my blog, you would know it went something like this - excitement - frustration - breakthrough - heartbreak - triumph...rather then rehash old memories, I will leave it at that. As the season is over!!! which makes me sad - but then again the fact we were event able to have a 'season' is an accomplishment - but it also gives us the winter to bring Chester to the next level of his (and mine) education.
Joyce rode Chester for 20 minutes on Saturday - and it is soooo nice to have someone ride my horse so I can see what he really looks like when he works. ESPECIALLY when that someone is Joyce. She is truly a talented rider and I am extremely lucky to have her be such an important part of mine and Chester's lives. Basically, we are at the point now where we are to ask him for MORE...MORE trot, MORE engagement, MORE responsiveness, MORE EVERYTHING...where before it would take 4 or 5 steps for a powerful forward trot to happen from the transition, now we are wanting that forward/powerful trot from the second I ask...Oh. My. God. It is a lot harder then you think. Especially when the Boss is telling you to 'lighten your seat'...and how the hell do I do that exactly?! Chester - is not of fan of this new chapter in his education. He basically has a hissy fit, gets pissed, bucks, throws his head in the air and proceeds with a temper tantrum...think about it though - would YOU want to work HARDER at something you were good at already? Not likely. So, my job as his rider, rather then to say 'okay take the 4 or 5 steps you need to get going' is to get after him from the get-go and MAKE him have that forward momentum...he hates it. And we fight about it and he has his tantrum and then he sort of gives up and says 'FINE, I'll DO IT'. If we could actually 'talk' it would be a love hate sort of conversation I am sure.
So, my goal is to again ride better (which there is noticeable improvement for the record) and make him work better/harder. Over the winter, we will work on our flat work and do some of the hunter schooling shows...we'll only jump once or twice a week at most. He is a GREAT jumper, is very brave and when we work on our flat, the jumping will get even better. Right now - the goal is to start off in April at Pre-Training and move up to Training in the fall...then again - I also thought we would have spent the entire summer at Pre-Training and be prepping for Bromont in June 2011 over the winter...horses...they bring you either such joy or such heartbreak...I wouldn't have it any other way though.
More soon - and by soon I mean tomorrow after we school tonight! (in which I am attempting to master sitting Chester's trot...which is basically impossible.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Short & Sweet...

To be honest - I am not in the mood to be writing, so very quickly:
We did a schooling show on Sunday - he was super - I just have to ride him better...and I feel like a record on repeat every time I write that
We're going to John's place again on Saturday for some more XC schooling.
Sigh - I can't believe the eventing season is over...it definitely didn't end as I had thought it would...that said, I am grateful for being able to event at ALL this summer with Chester. The plan for the winter is to build Chester's back end power, get comfortable working through gymnastic lines and fine tune my aids...we will absolutely be going to some indoor hunter shows...which will be great for my equitation as well as for Chester.
We aim to start next Spring in Pre-Training with the move up to Training after the Championships...here's hoping Chester stays fit, healthy and more importantly continues to love me everyday, just as much as I love him....
Riding tonight - can't wait to see my boy...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My Own Good Advice...

Yesterday, in general, was a pretty shitty day. In the sense that I was in a bad mood, work wasn't the best, the drive in the morning too FOR eeeevvverrrr and I was basically the definition of "m'eh" by the time I was pulling into the barn. Awesome.
Note to Self: Do NOT try and dressage school when you are in a bad mood and tense...especially when you own a red-headed uber sensitive TB...
After a fantastic dressage school on Saturday, I was pumped to have it continue...and have decided that 2 out of my 5 rides a week will be solely for flat work...in which I spend as much time as possible with no stirrups and at sitting trot..which frustrates me (because I do not yet have a full independent seat) and probably more so Chester because I am sure he is thinking to himself: "GREAT, here comes the dressage saddle which means her fat ass is going to be bouncing around up there for a solid hour. Wicked". Well, I should have known better then to try and dressage school when I am not completely clear headed...It wasn't the best of schools to say the least.
I should also add to that, that the footing outside was pretty deep because it had stormed BIG TIME the night before...which reminds me about the storm...I'll get to that...which makes me nervous because of his stifles...and I could tell when I got out there he wasn't moving as freely as he normally does. I ended up schooling him inside for about 20 minutes, which was better then outside, but I should have literally just gone for a walk.
As for the storm, picture this. It is Tuesday at about 2:00 a.m...I wake up to rain POUNDING down...I am a very deep sleeper and it takes a lot to wake me up....along with the pounding rain, there was thunder and lightening. I was like, okay, no big deal, it'll be over soon...well, 2 hours later, IT WAS STILL STORMING...I was pacing around the house in a panic. Chester was outside, in that weather, in a field, with no shelter with METAL SHOES ON...needless to say, after last night, he will now be spending his nights inside....I can not deal with the thought of something bad happening to him which is totally preventable...and I will feel much more comfortable when he has a shelter.
Anyways - riding again tonight - jump school. Tomorrow he has off. There is a small schooling show at the barn on Sunday and I might take him into the jumping classes HC...we shall see...I'd much rather be going to Grandview though...sigh...this season didn't end up the way I thought, that's for sure. That said, I am pretty confident we'll be starting out next April at Pre-Training and moving to Training AFTER the Championships...that's the plan anyways.
More soon...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Great Weekend!!

Well, maybe it didn't start off that way....but it ended on a high.

Thursday saw the Pickle having the day off so I could hang out with my 2 legged main man. We went on a date, had some fish&chips, beer and a good time
Friday morning I get up and leave for work as per the usual. I get onto the highway, drive for about 3 minutes and my tire bursts..not a slow leaking flat, but absolutely BURSTS. Thankfully I was only a couple minutes out of town and although I fishtailed, there was no one around, I didn't hit the median and no one got hurt. It could have been much worse then it turned out to be. Long story short, I end up spending $300 on a tow and used tire all before 9:00 a.m....I guess the good way to look at it is I paid $300 to have a long weekend...At this point in time though, I would have rather saved the $300...brutal.
Friday afternoon's ride was great! I am riding outside as much as I can now, because I would say in the next week or so - riding outside after work - is going to be a thing of the past until next Spring. We worked on being FORWARD...my nemesis...and I would just keep my legs on, give Chester a little check to the jump and let him find his way there. It is good to school over little jumps, so that we can practice our footwork and not worry about a monster fence sitting in front of us!
Saturday - what a day that was!! I broke out the dressage saddle and really worked on connecting with him, strengthening his trot work, receptiveness to my aids and of course, riding him properly from back to front...I really think it isn't a fluke anymore and I am really understanding how to ride him better. :-) I am sure he appreciates me for it. We did some leg yielding, some shoulder in and and trying haunches in - but I need the boss' help for that one so I know I am doing it properly. All in all, it was a superb ride and one that I will hope to keep building upon.
Sunday - I was uh - not really in the state of mind to be bouncing around at anything faster then a walk...so, we went on an amazing hack...the weather was beautiful and we were out there for a good 90 minutes. Walking the entire way - well, we did have a little canter in one of the back fields and it was totally heavenly. Jen's property is amazing and it also is a working cash crop farm. You can hack alllll the way back to the 401...and, as the picture shows - you are pretty close to it! :-)
If it is possible for me to love Chester any more then I already do, it is on days like Sunday...
It is hard to make out, but that is the 'Cobourg' sign on the 401 looking East-bound as you are coming into town. I'm literally at the edge of Jen's property...cool huh? On our way back, I popped him over a couple of the tiny xc jumps out in the field, just for fun...I should have reminded myself though, that my leg has to be on...because as we were coming into a tiny log - at a trot - I was ho humming it and he decided to ho hum it himself...and came to a stop in front of it...my mistake...and it was a big one...so, we came at it again with more enthusiasm and he was his normal brave self...

Schooling tonight - I know we won't be able to be outside - stupid sun going down earlier now - so I am going to set up a gymnastic line and school over that...hopefully someone is around and can help set jumps for me. If not, then I will make an oxer and work on his front end...

More soon!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Whoopsie...

Wow - a whole WEEK with no posts...let me run down the past week for you..it has been a long one that is for sure.
So, remember Equus last weekend..? Here is how that unfolded:
Saturday afternoon, we move Chester up to Joyce & Kelly's barn. Because we were headed North and Chester is 30 minutes South of where Kelly and Joyce have their horses. The normal preparation of packing, bathing, braiding etc ensues. Great! the NOT great part - getting up at 4:00 a.m. for the 3 hour drive the next morning...Man, it is DARK on the 401 at 4:30 a.m. That's all I have to say. So, I am pulling into the farm which is about 40 minutes North of Orangeville. It is grey, dark, damp and dismal...a great day for eventing. As I am walking over to the Secretary's table, my phone rings and it is Kelly. As soon as I saw who it was, I knew there was something wrong.
"Um, we have a problem. The wheel fell off the trailer, the horses are in a Tim Horton;s parking lot in Port Perry and we are in Bailieboro trying to get another trailer."
"WHAT?! Are you guys okay? Are the horses okay?"
Everyone was fine...so, at this point in time Kelly's day was a write off because her times would have been over before they even could have gotten to the show. My times would have been pushing it. The earliest they would have gotten there would have been 1030, my dressage test was for 1055...not a chance that was feasible. So, we talked about it and I said to Kelly I would talk to the Secretary and see if there was the possibility of moving my time a little later and have her drop down into entry, but go Haut Concours (not judged). Long story short, the way the times worked out, there was no way that would have worked because I was already at the end of my division and they were jam packed. So, we made the decision to scratch. What a freakin bummer that was. So, by 9:30 in the morning, I had driven to and from 40 minutes North of Orangeville, or almost 500kms. It was a great start. NOT how we expected to be spending our weekend, that is for sure.
On Monday, when I got to the barn, I was still exhausted from the day before and everyone was just getting ready to leave. I looked at them all and said 'I am so not in the mood right now'. Jen said 'it's sort of an off day anyways' and that is all I needed to hear - Chester got the day off. :-)
Tuesday was fun. We rode outside - I am getting every last bit of riding outside that I can for the next couple weeks. It is DARK at 725pm...which is usually about 15 minutes AFTER I get on. So, I have a feeling my outdoor riding is going to be limited to weekends very soon. :( We did a course, then we jumped 3'6, on purpose, for the first time...reason being is were planning on going a fair this weekend ([plans changed, we're not going anymore), and I wanted to make sure we could do the max height that one of the classes was set for. Jen said to me 'At that height, he actually uses himself and JUMPS the jump'...needless to say, The Pickle can jump that height no problem. Good Pickle.
Wednesday - YAY WEDNESDAY....we returned to John Hobson's place for xc session #2. The goal 'get moving FORWARD and get INTO the WATER' was set.
Moving Forward - You know - I think I have figured this out. The problem (shockingly enough) is me...imagine that. After a disastrous gymnastic line to warm up (3 fences a stride apart), my canter is, in John's words, "None of this a la dressage canter bullshit, you have to RIDE him"...okay, that is problem #1. Problem #2 - I DO have my leg on...the problem, is that I hang on his mouth. Why am I doing that? Because, I think I am still a little hesitant/nervous/confidence lacking when it comes to jumping fixed obstacles at speed...why? Well, you take a 10 year break and come back into in when you are 30...I'm not as brave as I used to be. When and if I fall off, I KNOW how much it is going to hurt. I am 85% there. I even said it to John once 'I know what my problem is...my leg is on, but, I'm not letting him move into it because I'm holding him back." John, gives me a look and said 'I couldn't have told it to you better myself'. I need to trust my horse more. He WANTS to do it. He WANTS to make me happy. He TRUSTS me, I need to trust him more. In other words, keep my leg on, do NOT hold him back through his bridle. We moved up in complication from last time...big time. We did bigger drops, bigger banks, tougher combinations..and he was GREAT. We even cantered right to and over a ditch...with no hesitation. Now, if I can just be that bit more confident...we will HAVE IT. Now, the water. The little crossing...was not a problem in the least. Exactly like the last time, Chester was happy to go through it: walk, trot, canter. He was great. The water complex...he wanted NOTHING to do with it..even with another horse there to lead him through, he said, not a chance. On to Plan B. This included: a halter, lunge rope, rubber boots, lunge whip, and a very frustrated Carrie. Jen (who I have told will be coming with me as my groom when I move up the levels because of this exact situation), looks at me, takes the reins from my hands (because by now I have dismounted and am about to lose my shit) and says "be patient. He will do it." And she took and they stood, not moving at the edge of the water (after some coaxing of course). She just had him stand there, while we waited for John to come back and for me to calm down...because I was about to have a fit. After the coaxing with the lunge whip, John had Chester in the water!!! and he was happily *well, maybe NOT* happily standing in the water. After John walked him in and out several times, he to me 'Get on and get him through'...so on I get...and in we went!! HE DID IT!! :-) I was overly proud (and overly thankful Jen was there to keep me calm). We were walking, trotting, cantering, in and out of the water from all different directions. To end it off...we cantered in, through and OUT OVER A BIG LOG!! :-) YAY CHESTER!!! So proud of him. We'll go back in a couple weeks where we WILL be forward, we WILL be trusting of each other (me more so then him) and it will be the best damn xc schooling session EVER. And John is going to ride him so he can show me how it is done...THAT I can't WAIT to see...:-)
GO PICKLE!
More soon...and I will try to put up some video later...

Friday, September 10, 2010

Don't Change Anything...

OKay - I don' think me understanding what 'forward' and 'ahead of your leg' is a fluke...and I hope I dont jinx myself for this weekend, but, I really think I have figured it out.
On Wednesday, The Pickle was feeling very 'up' and was acting like a total TB...spooky, snorty, prancy, and general pain in my ass. That being said, getting him forward was not a problem at all. We did 25 minutes of ring work, then trotted/cantered out in the big field. I popped him over a couple xc jumps just so he remembers what his job is and called it a day. He was great!! If I can go into the weekend riding him EXACTLY like I have been for the past couple weeks, then I fully expect we can get a score in the low 50s on our test. I don't really care what place we end up, I just want to always have that improvement...as long as we keep on improving, and having fun, that is all I care about....well, confidence is important too, but I would wager that if you are having fun, you are pretty confident. I have to pretend we are at home, not at a show and it is just Chester and I schooling...that's the only thing that matters. I'm going to ride him like I know I can and GO FOR IT.
This brings me to Equus....the times just got released and I am a little irked about it. With Kelly being a division higher then me, the times are always all over the place. I ALWAYS ask the secretary if I can be scheduled as close to Kelly's times as possible as she is my barn mate and we come to the events together. Well - we are basically as far apart in our divisions as we can get. She starts at 855 and is done at 1134. I start at 1050 and am done at 102...sigh...AND the event is in Orangeville, so it is a good 2 1/2 hour drive...awesome. 430 a.m. wake up call, here I come...balls.
Something else that I am not sure about - is that is looks like the Senior and Open divisions have been put together...which doesn't make much sense to me either...I am thinking for points and qualification purposes for the Championships...that said, I guess there is a bit of motivation involved when you think about it...wouldn't YOU want to beat a Canadian Eventing Team Member if had the opportunity...? I sure as shit would.
Riding tonight - will do the movements of the dressage test, jump a little bit and go for a loooonggg walk. Tomorrow - an easy 30 minutes and show prep.
Equus - BRING IT.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Own Light Bulb Moment...

...I think - and I use that word with a lot of hesitation - think that I am understanding, forward, contact and in front of my leg. That or last nights ride was a complete fluke.
This is the time of year that I love...Fall. It is a little cooler, everything gets really pretty, work is getting busy again and it is one of favourite times. What I DON'T love is the fact that it is now dark before 8:00 p.m.
Last night when I got to the barn, the sky was a little intimidating. While tacking up, I made the decision to ride inside because the sky was black, creepy and it was windy....riding inside lasted for 10 minutes. It was hot, dusty, not fun, and I have noticed Chester breathes a little harder when he is inside...probably because it is dusty...imagine that. So, we headed outside with the scary black sky in the distance. I have been working really hard at getting a bigger, bolder more forward movement from him...and I THINK - THINK - I have figured it out. It goes back to what John told me last week about having a more solid base. Your lower legs can be ON, but not asking for more. When you have that more solid base, you can feel the difference in the horse underneath you. So, with my legs on - I barely have to touch his face...just little pulses with my ring fingers and he rounds his back under me and surges forward. What a feeling. It is light, comfortable, manageable and most importantly rideable. I take that back - what is more important then that is that Chester - LOVES being left alone. I remember what Nancy Tapley (the amazing dressage judge from our first event) said to me: "He is looking for you to hold his hand. Don't grab it, but let him hold it. He needs you to be there for him" And I THINK I have finally figured that out. We will see if I can have a repeat performance tonight.
So - as we are riding outside, lighting appears in the distance...hum, not good. There are about 3 or 4 of us out in the ring and we see lightening a few more times. At one point, I pipe up and go 'okay - if I see lightening once more, then I think we should go in'...that ended up being the smartest thing I have ever said. We saw lightening once more, headed to the indoor and within 30 seconds of us being inside, the sky opened up. I have never heard such noise before in my life. Lightening, Thunder, RAIN, wind...holy...so our amazing schooling session got cut super short because I could hardly hear what I was thinking.
We'll do some flat tonight, then have a boot around the xc field to clear his lungs before Equus. Thursday he will have off. Friday lesson hopefully - and the EQUUS ON SUNDAY!!! :)
More soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

3 Very Important Things...

...that I learned last week when I was off site xc schooling with the Pickle for the first time...
1 - FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD will be key to success with this horse on xc (shocking isn't it?!)
2 - I need to have a better base. My lower leg position sucks (I am not 1/2 as secure as I should be)
3 - Releasing is important....and I need to do a better job of it.
I learned a TON of other stuff too, but I will start with this for the meantime and sort of build from there. We went to John Hobson's property about 20 minutes down the 401 from Maplewood. His farm, is something else. It is beautiful. He and his wife have lived there for years, he is a retired school teacher and has been riding for literally 50 years. He is a horseman, true and true with a no nonsense, this is how it is and this is how I am going to give it to you. I LOVE him. We went in to the morning with the following goal. Get Chester doing the next level of xc: banks, drops, ditches, getting his feet wet, literally. Although lacking a little in confidence when it comes to something new, he is very very brave and will do just about anything I ask him to do. He trusts me and that is more important then just about anything else. My concern from the get go, was the water. He is absolutely petrified of it....we'll get to that in a bit.
We started off in the sand ring, over some stadium jumps so John could get a feel for what Chester (and I) could do. Once comfortable with how I ride, my level and with Chester we moved onto some little banks...as in tiny...up and down. Chester went, yeah, whatever. He only stopped once...and that was after coming up a steep slope, a stride and then a 3 foot drop down...which literally took him by surprise he sort of went 'uh oh, whats THAT'..and just stopped. He didn't freak out or anything just stood there, snorted at it and stood there...we tried again the second time and he nailed it. What I reallllly need to learn...is that 'drops' of no significant size (i.e until we hit training level) can be ridden in your every day 2point over fences position...that was the hardest thing for me to understand. We did skinnies, banks, combinations, you name it, he nailed it. We showed him a ditch...let him get right up to it, take a good sniff, then approached at a trot, he sailed over...then at a canter - and he sailed over that as well. GREAT! We increase the width and depth of the ditch...come at it at a strong trot...he saw it said 'WHoooaaaa!! whats that!!!???', stopped and balked a little. We regrouped - I kept my leg on - and over he went. John then introduced a rail over the ditch and Chester just popped right over like it was no big deal...and, it wasn't...he was a champ. I was so so so happy with him. Water time....there were 2 waters. The one we started with, was a simple water crossing, down a little slope, across 20 feet of water, up a little slope canter on out into the field. He didn't like it very much at first but after some encouragement, he walked right in. Then trotted right in. Then cantered right in. Huh - maybe this would be easier then I had anticipated. Once Chester was comfortable (and by comfortable, I mean attacking the water with no hesitation) John said it was time to move over into the water complex. Ahhhh - the water complex. It was a typical water in which there were any number of ways to get INTO and OUT OF the water. Drop in, bank out, little log out, it was all there....and I was really looking forward to him going in and out and over the little drop etc. Chester however, had other ideas. He simply refused to set foot anywhere remotely NEAR the water, let alone thinking about walking/trotting/catering/JUMPING into or out of it. To the point where he was backing up away from it as quickly as possible...to the point where the added uh 'encouragement' from me was rendered useless...to the point where poor John couldn't even get close enough to lead him into the water without getting run over...to the point where I was beyond frustrated that he wouldn't do it. John eventually said 'forget it, take him back through the original crossing and watch that he doesn't balk at it." So, we went through that crossing and he could have cared less about it. I was beyond mad/frustrated. John said to me as we were walking back to the barn "Don't let that get you in a funk. He was a star the entire morning, it's hot out and he is tired. When you come back, our focus will be the water and by the end of it, he'll be going through it like he had been doing it his entire life." GOD - my words to Chester are this: Please grow a pair so we can move up a level and do more exciting things. We're going back next week. John LOVED him...and said I have to do a better job of riding him to help him more. He asked what my goals were for this horse, I said 1* level...a stretch would be 2*...his response to that was "He's scopey enough for 1* and then some." My answer back to him was "That's great, we'll work on the 'and then some' though." :-). That is where I would have to grow a pair....
We were on a mini vacation over the weekend and Chester had a much deserved 3 days off...which doesn't leave me with a lot of time before Equus on the 12th, but I think Chester likes having a few days off in a row here and there...it is as though he misses his work and is very eager to get to it after a couple days. He was a champ yesterday. Another thing I learned what that we should only do the same exercise twice. Any more then that is too much, leave it, go do something else, come back to it after so that no one gets bored and you don't give your horse the chance to start acting like a donkey. And, I focused on that when we were schooling, do something twice, move on to something else and come back. I am going to spend this entire week focusing on ME as the rider. Chester is GOOD. I know that, Joyce knows that, John knows that, EVERYONE knows that. It is up to me to ride him better so he can be GREAT. In preparation for Equus on the weekend, I will be focusing on riding him better, with more accuracy and keeping him in front of my leg at all times. I will keep my leg on, my hands steady and ride him as best as I can. We will flat tonight, jump tomorrow (little jumps where I will focus on ME), with a canter at the end, off on Thursday (or maybe just a long walk hack), Friday lesson, Saturday 30 minute school/dressage test, Sunday Equus. I have an expectation in my head and I plan on meeting it.
More soon.
Until then - it is forward, good lower body position and release...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

In The Light...

It took a lot for me to finally decide on a show name for Chester. My original list included: "Embarcadero" (hence the name of my blog), 'In The Light' (one of my favourite Led Zeppelin songs) and "Let It Rock...how I ended up with Sppin' On Sunshine was a result of a song I heard in which I instantly fell in love with the first time I heard it.
From the beginning, In The Light - was a close close close runner up. Why? Simply because EVERY TIME I ride, Chester has a light bulb moment and I can almost hear (and definitely FEEL) him go "Oh, I GET it now!!". Last night, was no exception.
Keeping in mind that we are working on Chester's front end, we are going to be doing a lot of gymnastics, a lot of trot poles to a canter pole to a single fence/oxer...that is what I was working on last night. Me - getting the timing of my aids to help him get his front end in gear and him - getting his front end in gear. We (well, I) set up 2 trot poles to a canter pole to an 'X', Chester watched. Our warm up was great (speaking of which I have also changed around a little bit...anyway, more on that later) and about 20 minutes in, I pointed him in the direction of our line. He came at it, went uh what? and sort of deer hopped over it...ugh...try again...by the third time over, he was going like a champ, getting his lead and snorting happily to himself upon landing. AWESOME. I can literally FEEL him get it and become more comfortable. By the end of the session, we were cantering into a pretty significant sized oxer, which he didn't touch...once. He was oozing confidence and was pretty pleased with himself.
I love it when he is like that.
Off property xc schooling tomorrow morning. Ditches, banks, drops, water, scary fences...bring it on. I. Can. Not. Wait!!
Chester had better get over this water phobia he has or his career as an event horse will be short lived!! I'm hoping he is In The Light tomorrow...that's fore sure.
More soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tired...

Whoopsie - it's been a while since I posted anything. Let's hope I can remember what I did over the past week. And - I am finding that as I get older, it is taking me longer to recover from my weekend. It was my best friend's jack and jill on Saturday night, and now that is it almost 3:00 p.m. on Monday, I can say that I am STILL tired and have spent the day in bed.
We did end up having a lesson last Wednesday. The focus over the fall and winter will be getting the Pickle to make better use of his front end and stop 'hanging' his legs over fences...which will lead to a mountain of problems on xc when we start to hit the higher levels. The last thing I want is for him to catch one of his legs going over a jump that doesn't fall down. That is a recipe for disaster. So, that means we will be doing a LOT of gymnastics and single fence oxers so that he learns to stretch a little more. You can see from some of the pictures that he has great knees and doesn't WANT to touch anything, he just has to learn to be a little more resourceful on HOW he uses himself. We'll work on it. We worked on me also...my position, my aids before, over and after the fence, my release...holy - just when you think you are making headway, you have 4 more things to try and sort out. Joyce says I am too hard on myself and last week's lesson was no exception. I didn't think I was riding very well, she said there was monumental improvement from the start of the lesson to the end...so that is what I am going to go on.
Thursday - we did a little conditioning...which I always enjoy. Chester seems to like it too...this time of year is fantastic for evening riding (although right now it is 42 degrees out with the humidity) and Chester loves being out in that field. I popped him over a couple of the smaller xc jumps just for fun and then we walked for a good 40 minutes. Like people, horses benefit so much from long slow work. It was nice to have him snorting away to himself as we were walking around.
Sunday - I lunged for about 35 minutes. With his bridle and side reins on....I need to start doing this at LEAST once a week...I should be doing it more often then I am right now though, that is for sure. It gives Pickle the chance to use himself properly, engage his hind end, without him having to worry about carrying my ass around and screwing around with his face. It also basically proves it to me that as long as I keep him moving forward into a steady contact i.e - NOT MOVING MY HANDS SO MUCH, he is happy and will pretty much put himself into a frame. His mouth was frothy, he was relaxed and happy...it was nice.
I have started to turn him out into the arena after our rides so that he can have a roll...which he ALWAYS does and which I know he appreciates.
OH!!! Here is the exciting news of the day....we are going xc schooling off property on Wednesday morning!!! :-) I can't WAIT. We are literally going to get his feet wet, get him into and out of the water, banks, etc. All the scary stuff that he will start to see on course once we move up...which we will hopefully do for our last event in October...all depends on how his confidence is at Equus 3D on September 12. That will be the determining factor!
That's it for now...
More soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words of Wisdom...

In following with the Statement: "The First basic prerequisite of becoming a good rider is to develop an independent seat. An Independent Seat is achieved by a lot of sitting trot with no stirrups."
That is what I worked on last night and I can hardly walk today.
Boss comes tonight...I might *actually* be able to have a lesson...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Emotions...

One of the best things about horses, is that they give so much joy and happiness to the people who love them....not to mention they can also instantly break our hearts and have you crying your eyes out...day in and day out, our horses drive us crazy, and that is why we love them. In the 2 hours I normally spend at the barn each time I am there, I run through all the following emotions, not in any given order: love, happiness, proud, pissed, bonkers, frustrated, ecstatic, determined, angry....etc. And yes, I do get frustrated with Chester and yes I do get angry with him, but more often then not the cause of those negative emotions is because I did something wrong which made him behave wrong.
Jen B. (barn owner) experienced herself last night a very similar range of emotions...mostly happiness and joy because: She is the proud new owner of one of the BIGGEST (seriously, he is 17.2 hh) most BEAUTIFUL black 3/4 tb-1/4 perch geldings I have ever seen. I will try to remember to take a picture tonight so I can show you just how beautiful he really is and I am not making it up....He is an absolute doll. In the first 10 minutes he was there he managed to have everyone gawking at just how gorgeous he was, freak out getting off the trailer, freak out at the goat, step on Jen's foot, break her big toe, cause her to hit the ground hard and consequentially, bruise her knee. And his name, is Moseby (or Moe, or I might just call him Moose). Imagine the range of emotions going through her head all within those first 10 minutes....however, I am sure her emotional range also included PAIN...her toe is now the same colour as her horse.
When I first got there, I went out to get Chester and then over to the field where 'Moe' is being housed...I looked at Chester, looked at Moe and went "OMG, he makes Chester look like a midget!!" Jen's response to that was: HE makes him look like a thoroughbred. Ha. I stood there looking at Moe - who is just unbelievably HUGE (but, not drafty at all, he is simply perfect) and then over at Chester and I couldn't believe the difference...Chester looked like fine china compared to this beast that was in the field...as a reference, I would need to be a solid 2 inches TALLER to see over his ass...
Then we got into this big debate about how big Chester is. They had just sticked Moe, who is seriously 17.2hh and I went, Oh, Chester is probably like 16.1 or mayyybe 16.2....and they all said I was completely insane for thinking that....so, we sticked him too...and he is (KEEPING IN MIND HE IS A VERY UPHILL TB WITH A HIGH WITHER) 17.1/2hh...I basically freaked out...lol Let me tell you, I am not used to looking UP at another rider, and I am going to be looking UP at this beast for sure. So, after I was finished riding (he was great...but we are talking about emotions here), Chester was eating his dinner and I went out to the paddock again where Jen, her brother and Moe were hanging out. We were all talking about him (he was calmly eating hay and could have cared less about anything that was going on) and I said to Jen - he really is beautiful -I cant wait until he starts to get more muscle... And she said one of the best things I think I have ever heard someone say about their horse; "I had this picture of him in my head and every time I see him again in person, he is just more beautiful then I remember"...
If that isn't Unconditional Love, I don't know what is.
Go Love your horse.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday & Saturday Rides...

Chester continues to amaze me.
He is one of the smartest horses I have ever met. When he is good, he is VERY good and when he isn't VERY good, it is 99.99% my fault that he isn't. This horse, just gets it. When working on something (anything), even something very new, it takes him 3 or 4 times to 'get it' and then it is like a light bulb goes off in his head and he goes 'OH OH OH!!! I GET IT!!!' and then it is like he has been doing it his whole life.
On Friday, we were schooling out in the jumper ring and there was a lesson going on, with a couple of younger kids.,...so, kudos for me for keeping my eyes up and looking where I was going. Every time Jen (the instructor) would yell something out 'Eyes up!', 'Heels Down' etc I would catch myself making sure I was following her directions. At one point, I even said to her 'Geeze, I thought you have been yelling at me the entire time'...lol We have been working a lot on our transitions. Especially from trot-canter-trot and I think they have improved exponentially over the past couple of weeks. So, Friday, we continued with the transition work...and we started to make it a little harder: figure of eights, with a couple trot steps over 'X' pick up the new lead...and, it has been going VERY well. We have started to work on his flying changes...and he is like 85% there. It is sooo weird. He knows he is on the wrong lead, will come back to trot himself and switch it. Sometimes, I feel him switch in front, but not in back, so I ask him to come back, get it together and start over. It is much easier for him coming off the left and switching to the right then it is the other way around. In the lesson that was going on, Jen had some teeny xrails set up, and i popped him over them - letting him pick his pace and find his footing - I just sat there and let him sort it out and made the 'suggestion' as to which lead he should be on. He was a star. As we were coming across the diagonal, he swapped his lead....ON HIS OWN...with a perfect flying change, that Jen happened to see. She goes 'OMG, he just got it!!!'...and I called it at that. So proud.
On Saturday - I was there bright and early as we had a wedding to go too..Aaron was in the wedding party...anyways. I broke out the dressage saddle and my plan was to again work on transitions, responsiveness, and keeping him supple and happy...and yes, my downfall FORWARD and IN FRONT OF MY LEG WITH QUIET HANDS...sigh...I am getting better at riding him properly, I swear. Our next event is September 12 and I swear, if it is the last thing I do, we WILL get a low 50s in our test...anways...the weather was bonkers on Saturday - I started outside, and then moved inside after about 25 minutes, simply because it was blowing around like MAD and I thought a typhoon was about to reach us. It was weird, but it was almost as if he preferred to be inside himself....he felt much more light and responsive. We did some leg yielding, which was great, and then worked up to leg yielding from the 1/4 line to the track and immediately picking up canter...which helped me a lot with my aids and keeping him bent the right way. We also did a lot of rein changes and trot-canter-trot transitions in the arena...I worked on staying balanced with a long leg. I totally forgot to do no stirrup work...whoopsie. Needless to say, he was pretty pleased with himself and snorted along happily the entire time we were in the arena. We went on an awesome walk hack for about 40 minutes after our ride...which is good for his conditioning/endurance. This Thursday we will do some conditioning out in the big field.
Riding tonight - will jump a little bit, flat him tomorrow and the boss comes on Wednesday...so we can **HOPEFULLY** have a lesson...I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that considering the construction of the new barn/arena has caused us to temporarily LOOSE an arena...sigh...it will be well worth it in the end...which reminds me, I should take some pictures of the new arena so everyone can see how amazing it is going to be!
Here is my very handsome fiance (and I)...I Love him to pieces!! (Don't tell that to Chester though.)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Frustrations...

Well...once again, I was subjected to NOT having a lesson last night....because I got over ruled when it came to the arena...it also didn't help that is was pissing down rain yesterday and the outdoor turned into bad footing.
See, there is something AMAZING going on right now at the barn...a new barn and indoor is going up, which will be for boarder ONLY...which will basically make my life a million times easier then it is right now. The construction the new barn is causing resulted int he loss of the small outdoor sand ring where the majority of the lessons have been taking place...so up until a month ago, lessons has never been a problem...for the past month, Joyce and I have tried everything, re-booked times, re-booked when/where we ride, all to no avail....sigh....the new barn will be done by October 1...so here's hoping.
We switched our lesson nights to Wednesday at 7ish....until the Winter anyways when we will have them on Saturday afternoon...which the boss (because she is the smartest person alive) said 'you'll appreciate because it wont be pitch black and freezing cold out'...well said Boss, well said.
So, I am out of the office shortly and might actually get to school my horse today.....Going to work on some flat and then jump a little bit tomorrow!
FUN
Tata for now!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fun...!

Last night - was fun.
We did about 20 minutes of ring work, then went out into the field and trotted/cantered around for about 15 - 20 minutes...popped him over the little log and tires, just for fun and had a very low key, relaxing, stretch of a ride.
Whhhiiiichhhh I might be kicking myself for tonight because the boss comes...sigh...ah well....I don't regret it at all. I might in a couple hours though when our lesson starts...ha.
Here are a couple pictures from when my family was out on the weekend at Canterdown...I know I know I have promised to upload some videos, and I will get to that ASAP. Bigger, better update tomorrow after our lesson, promise!



< -- Ugh, need to work on my lower leg position I think so I don't look like THAT over fences.













LET IT ROCK!!!












Pickle basically trotting over the itty bitty jumps.








The Best Little Big Fan in the entire Universe:
Lovely Layla (My niece)







Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's Not The Results That Matter...

I would wager it is pretty safe to say that it isn't the actual results of an event that matter most. What matters most is that you come away from it happy, with things to work on for the next one and you did better then the last time out. What matters more then that sometimes is that you continue to build upon your relationship with your horse and grow more comfortable with each other and build on that confidence in your partnership. What is even sometimes more important then that...is having the people who mean the most to you there to share in your experience...even if they don't have the slightest clue as to what is going on. That is what it was like for me on Sunday at Canterdown. It was Chester's 2nd ever event and I went into it looking to finish on our dressage score - simply because after our last experience at Lane's End, I KNEW he could do it. And, he did finish on his dressage score, but more about that later.
On Sunday - I had one of the best surprises I think I have ever had. Not only did my brother, sister in law and niece and nephew show up, but so did my Mom & Rick...which was a TOTAL SURPRISE for me. I remember warming up before xc and I happened to look towards where all the spectators were watching and I see Layla (my niece) pointing and waving in my direction...along side my mom and Rick and brother and sister in law...what an AMAZING surprise!!! It was great!!! It really means a lot to me that they were there...to watch me do what I love and to see how much enjoyment I get out of it. Although Layla was a little scared of Big Bad Chester, she did say that he was very pretty. I also told her that they both had the same hair colour and her eyes just about popped out of her head. After xc, she sported my number and gave a big 'thumbs up'. That is her and my mom after our xc ride!
Me, Lovely Layla & Mom



My mother's photography skills can best be summed up in her words "Fast Horse, slow camera", although she did manage to get a couple good pictures of us.

Here we are waiting in the start box for the start of xc. I think we were both pretty calm here. We were about 30 seconds out and I remember taking a deep breath and going to myself - we WILL go clear and we WILL make the time...and we did. It took me about 3 jumps to really get him moving forward. (I will post a video later this evening so you can see the extra uhh - 'encouragement' that was needed over the first couple of fences. He is tiptoeing on the line of being super confident and until we can get him going forward out of the star box, we will stay at Entry - but I fully expect us to move up a level for October - but for sure next season. The last thing I want to do, is go out there if he is not 100% confident and move up a level. It will do nothing but set us back - so, we will go xc schooling a couple times, build his confidence (and MINE TOO!!) and see what happens over the next couple of weeks. Once I can get him confident in himself, he just LOVES it and eats up the course. He went around the course with his ears forward and alert the entire time. By the end of it, he was moving really well and just hit the last 4 or 5 jumps all in stride and took off for the next one. What a feeling....
His stadium was pretty good. A couple sticky jumps because he was looking at stuff he had no business looking at, but we were clear and it flowed. I was pretty happy about the round and again, I got a huge thumbs up from Layla - so, as long as she was happy, I couldn't care about anything else.
Dressage - I am somewhat annoyed with myself...because in typical fashion, I was a little tense going into the ring, he felt it and said 'AWESOME LET'S CANTER', when we had no business cantering. I also have to work on ME as a rider....that will get us better marks. I got mostly 6s and 7s, NO 5s!!! YAY ME. So now we work on getting MORE 7s and a couple 8s.
So, for his second event EVER, he finished on his dressage score of 57 to finish in 5th place out of about 14 horses. Amazing. We were 0.75 marks out of 4th place and I sort of kicked myself a little bit about that because I KNEW I lost us at least 3 marks in our test, but I can not be disappointed in our performance. At all. I still have a hard time believing that a month ago, this horse had never even evented before in his life. He was cool as a cucumber the entire time we were there and he actually helped to calm ME down. Last night, I went to visit him and he gave me this look as if to say 'see what we can do'...he is a very talented boy...and knows it. It was weird, but I think going through his injury and the past couple of events together has really brought us closer and more in tune with each other.
So now, we work on his confidence on xc, getting a better jump out of him (especially working on his front end) for stadium and becoming more forward and ahead of my leg (shocking!!) for our dressage. If I can make myself ride him better (and keep my nerves in check) then I know we can get a low 50s in our next dressage test....but that part is completely up to me...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving Upwards...

CHESTER finished on his dressage score yesterday to finish.......5th!!!!!! :-)
Update with detail and video later....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What a Ride...!!!

Last night, was probably one of the best rides I have had on Chester...probably ever.
So, I show up again with the plan on doing some conditioning...because, you know, we have an event in 5 days...and of course, it is pouring down rain...sigh. No conditioning, again. And, we are stuck riding in the arena, again. On goes the dressage saddle....which was the smartest decision I have made in a long time. We proceeded to have a wonderful warm-up: the Pickle was being attentive, responsive, we were in balance everything was great. We start doing the movements to the dressage test, using having to ride in the arena to our advantage, I really worked hard on accuracy and obedience. If I wasn't happy with something, then we would repeat the movement again immediately prior to moving on. It was going well. We did some leg yielding at walk and trot and he is much better to the left then right (expected) but he got it pretty fluidly (is that a word) in both directions by the time we were done. It was lovely. So - no stirrup work - sigh - I know I need to do this more often (like at least 10 minutes every time I ride) but I don't. Annnd today, I know why - because it friggin makes me sore. Anyways....
I work on my balance, staying as light as possible, with as long a leg as possible...and once I got him moving forward enough - if I do say so myself - it was pretty good. So good, that I rode the entire dressage test we are going to be riding on Sunday....and it was great. I am finding out, less is more with Chester (YES I KNOW THE BOSS HAS BEEN TELLING ME THAT FOR MONTHS) and it just really seemed to click in my head recently...for whatever reason.
Tonight - he has the day off. Aaron and i are going to pick up that lumber for the xc jumps we are going to be building on Thursday...which is when we have our next lesson...in which I have been informed we are going to be doing grid work...awesome <-- sarcastic....no really, I KNOW we need to work on it, and it will help make Chester a better jumper. He likes to hang his legs a little bit. Joyce says I don't give him enough credit - lol SHE should try jumping the spook-a-holic - and I need to release him more so he can get his front end up and out of the way...basically, the grid work will be as much for ME as it will be for HIM....sigh - I will get there....eventually.
More soon.
4 more rides to go...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Attacked....!!!!

What happens when you're just about to start your trot work in the ring after a great warm up and you really have a feeling it is going to go well...? You get swarmed by 1,000's of bees. That is the logical answer no? Well, that is exactly what happened to The Pickle and I on Friday afternoon. August, is a relatively slow month in the office and I take advantage of that by taking Fridays off....let me back up to Thursday's lesson...
Backing up to taking advantage of August - I was able to book my lesson with the Boss for 6:00 p.m.! Amazing, isn't it?! So, I show up around 5 or so ...was going to give the Pickle a good grooming and get all ready to go...so, the Boss shows up around 5:30 and we're chatting, getting ready to go and one of the mother's says to me 'Do you have a lesson at 6? Because that's when we have our lesson'...now - please keep in mind the following, the outdoor is a MASSIVE 100 x 200 structure...the other coach in question had no problems with me riding in there with the 'daughter' ..however, that didn't suit the mother's needs. So, after much discussion, The Boss goes 'It's fine, we'll ride out in the field'...in which we proceeded to work on my xc position and Chester's gallop...yes, you can actually work on galloping. With him right now - we are working on making his stride BIGGER, not necessarily faster..there is a difference. And how do I do this? I do this by keeping my leg ON and lifting my chest up to almost vertical..sort of the same as when you ask for lengthening trot...we totally changed my position, shortened my reins and worked on opening the Pickle up...it worked, and he loved it. Joyce is somewhat concerned about Chester's head coming up too much, bu I told her I think I am okay with it for now because he 'comes back' really well. I don't want to START to put a whole bunch of unnecessary equipment on him (ie running martingale) if I don't have too. Then, we worked over some of the xc jumps...really focusing on rhythm and striding...annnnd my release - I need to work on that - The Boss said that when I don't release enough, I am blocking him from using his front end and he'll end up hanging a leg if I'm not careful - well, that is all the 'advice' I needed to hear. The last couple of jumps we did were FANTASTIC and I am feeling really good about taking him xc on Sunday at Canterdown!
Friday - the Bees - OH. MY. EFFING. GODDDDDDD!!!!! We were literally swarmed by thousands and thousands of bees!!! They were hitting my face, my whole body and poor Chester was getting attacked. Needless to say, I hightailed it out of there as fast as I could. Amazingly, I managed NOT to get stung (I have no idea how that happened) but poor Chester got a couple stingers in him which resulted in some lumps ....but, he's okay.
Saturday - was SUPER FUN...because Shannon and Lindsay came out to watch me ride - we jumped a little bit for them and then the best part was his 'cool out' When Shannon and Lindsay were his cool out riders!!! :) We went back to the apple orchard and back and they each took a turn on him. So cute. It was so amazing to see how happy they were to get to ride him! I am glad they got to experience the joy I get from doing it....
Sunday - The plan was to do some conditioning...work on his gallop and on my position. So - I show up early afternoon and the sky is grey. No big deal. As we are setting on our way, it starts to mist/drizzle a little bit. No big deal, we are at one point going to have to show in the rain, so we can practice in the rain too. Well - that idea was about 20 minutes lived. We were wayyy in the far back corner of the field (pretty much as far away from the barn as you can get) and the sky just friggin opened up and poured. We got SOAKED. Ugh. So, we book it back to the barn. We'd only been out there for about 20 minutes so I decided to do some ring work...okay - trying to get a very FIT event horse to come back into the 'ring work' mind set after galloping....is somewhat challenging....we argued about it a little bit, but then we agreed and we worked well for about 20 minutes...let me tell you - we've been working HARD on our transitions...and we are going to NAIL them on Sunday... :-)
Oh - he has an effing cut on his front left heel - I THINK from when he freaked out from the bee attack - which is causing em a little bit of concern. It is just in a bad spot that is impossible to keep dirt and shit out of...ugh - so I put bell boots on him for turn out (which I probably should have done a long time ago) and am hoping that will help.
So - tonight, we try again for our conditioning and he has tomorrow off.
Canterdown is in 5 more rides. Bring It.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dripping Frigging Soaking Wet...

So - what happens when you get to the barn, it is the middle of a typhoon and you get absolutely frigging soaked to the bone when you go to collect your horse from the field...?
You lose all desire and motivation to ride. Period.
That is what happened to me last night.
As I stood literally dripping from the end of my nose, I looked at The Pickle in his stall as he stood dripping water from the end of his nose with a look to me that said 'You have to be out of your friggin mind', and I said 'For once, I actually agree with you'.
The poor dude was soaked through, had water dripping off his belly and looked literally like a drowned rat. I wish I had my camera...ha.
Not to mention 10 minutes AFTER I brought him in, it stopped raining and then got disgustingly humid.
He's been working pretty hard the past couple of days, so I figured the dude could use the day off. There is nothing worse then riding when you are soaking wet.
Hummm - except for the fact that we have a lesson tonight with The Boss and it might have been in my best interest to dig deep and persevere last night. I guess we will see what happens tonight.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Forward, Forward Forward...

The more I think about it - the more it makes sense.
I have thought a LOT about what Nancy Tapley (the wonderful dressage judge who took the time to me with me after Lane's End) told me over the past several days and really have been trying to put it into practice. The more Chester is in front of my leg, the less I have to do as a rider which means my hands will be more steady which means I won't be messing with his face as much which means he will be much more happy and willing. Not that he isn't happy & willing now, but you get the point.
And - it goes back to what the Boss has been telling me for the past 6 weeks "You need MORE from him. When you think it is enough - ask for a little more and then you will have it". Things that I have been working on.
1 - understanding the difference between a true contact and a fake contact. ie - riding properly from back to front (in front of your leg) and not from front to back (hanging on your hand). I still don't fully understand how to connect everything but, I am getting better.
2 - I am getting better because I am really starting to feel the difference when Chester is properly using himself vs not. There are these moments of greatness where for 10 or 15 steps it feels like I am sitting on a hot air balloon and everything just WORKS.
3 - My hand position - I constantly tell myself to hold my hands up and out - away from my body and to keep the straight line from bit t- hand to elbow - sounds basic huh? Well - it was the biggest thing I got dinged on after Chester's tantrum at Lane's End and is the reason our scores were all over the place. You can bet your ass that will never happen to me again.
4 - Asking & Giving...ugh - this is what I am having the most trouble with at the moment. I either a:forget to give once I have asked and he answered b: give WAY too much and I lose the feel in the corner of his mouth or c: don't have him moving forward enough when I ask for something at which point he says 'up yours'...but, I will get it.
5 - Opening up my knee and not having a death grip. The more I stay off his back - the easier it will be for me to get him moving forward openly and freely through his shoulder. I have started doing about 10 minutes of no stirrup work per ride and that is helping me a TON with my balance and position.
I am just working on riding him BETTER and with more confidence. We tried to do a little gallop last night (in my head thinking we have to go faster) but the ground is sooooo harrddddd right now that he was making that hollow sound when we were galloping so I said forget it. It hasn't rained in a couple weeks and you can really tell. It's not worth it for me to push it on hard ground when he is still recuperating.
Tonight - we work on the dressage movements for our test for Canterdown (on August 15) and then I'll ride it in the arena to get the accuracy down.
Tomorrow - LESSON WITH THE BOSS!!! and then there is a BIG Pig Roast/BBQ/BAND/PARTY at the barn. Should be a lot of FUN! Boss and Kelly are going to come (hopefully Papa Cracker too) and Aaron....looking forward to that.
More tomorrow.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chester's First Event...

Well - the proof is in the pudding. Because I couldn't hlpe myself - I bought some ictures of Chester from the photographer that was at the Event on Sunday. He is a super good guy and is very nice and friendly - I like him a lot. Check out his website: http://www.photosbybailini.com/

Here are the couple of Chester:
Happy Canter

Over the Bench

GOOD PICKLE!!