Sunday, January 29, 2012

What You Don't See

When I took my lesson with C. he pointed out several things that I hadn't realized. Like how I'm afraid to let Seneca go forward. I wasn't sure about that one until my ride today.

I realized when I was asking Seneca for the canter that I was actually giving her mixed signals. I would say go forward with my leg but I was pulling back with the reins. And then once she got in to the canter I would get tight and death grippy.

As soon as I became aware of it and stopped doing it Seneca started giving me the canter whenever. She would even canter when I didn't ask. This was sooo not the norm, but now I know I was creating the crankiness about going in to the canter.

I also hope that fixing this, being more soft and open with my hands will fix the jumping issue. Right now (we didn't do more than canter poles today) Seneca will jump the first jump in a line then kick in to overdrive and get flat and rushed to the second fence.  I think what I'm doing is getting a little nervous to the first fence, then when she gets over it I anticipate her taking off, haul back on the reins which makes her dive bomb for the second fence.

I practised with the canter poles today, and she was doing her usual. Then I softened and she was quieter to the second pole.  Thank you C. for opening my eyes to my own faults that were jacking up my horse.

Keep it between the flags everybody. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and the Muddy

I woke up this morning expecting the same cold that the day before had held. My house was built in the 1940's and very little changes have been made to it. As in the AC is a window unit in the living room and a portable unit in the bedroom. The heat? Well the oil burning furnace worked when we first moved in but at some point it died and we just never got around to fixing it. And let me say whomever decided to NOT put insulation under the house so that the floors in the morning are iceburgs was a complete idiot.

So how does one survive in the semi-mild VA winters? With a fabulous wood stove and a WHOLE lot of wood. It actually works out pretty well and we've never been uncomfortably cold.

But today as I woke up at 0'dark something to feed the horses I put on my barn jacket, knee high mud boots, gloves, fleece hat and my ever trusty headlamp and then stepped outside I immediately realized I was way over dressed. It was nearly 65 degrees at 4:30am, in JANUARY! What is up with that?

And even if it was a bit windy it would have been a great day to ride except it started raining around 7am and didn't stop until after 1pm. There goes the footing in my riding area.  I could have ridden yesterday but honestly I had abused my still mending leg twice already that day with the Navy's Physical Fitness Assessment and physical therapy so even though I sooo wanted to ride I didn't think I would be able to walk the next day if I did.

But as I fed I pulled the sheets off the horses. Yes they would get we and inevitably they would roll, but it was just to freaking warm to keep their sheets on. Of course tonight when I get home I will have to groom and throw the sheets back on as the temp is supposed to drop. But I say let the kids have fun while they can. Sooner or later winter will remember where it is supposed to be.

The truck is nearly fixed, just waiting on the alignment and the exhaust to get welded, two things hubby can't do. Hopefully we can pick it up today and I will be able to haul somewhere with footing, or lights, or please horsey Gods both.

My plan to get C. here is getting closer to being concrete. We have a date, and maybe a location, we just have to pin that down and start filling the spots. I am going to take work off that day as our fab farrier K. is due out that day as well.

So keep it between the flags everybody.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mud is the House Wine of the South

One of my mother's favorite sayings is "Iced tea is the house wine of the south."  I am going to amend that to mud. Because there sure has been a lot of it in my neck of the woods lately.  It's either really cold and dry, or warm, wet and full of mud.

Since the fabulous lesson with C. I've been getting out the word, and coordinating with a new eventing friend that I met through the C.  I haven't met her yet, but she and I are going to a lot of the same horse trials this year, though J. is far, far above me in experience and skill. But it just means I can learn from her. But we are going to have C. come out to Suffolk at least once a month starting in March. Woo HOO!

My riding has been nearly non-existent lately though. Our big truck is down for maintenance, which I am totally on board for. If the truck isn't running, or running well then I can't get to the horse trials I want to go to this spring. So whenever I want to hurry my husband along with the repairs I just bite my tongue and think of all the places I can go this year.

So with the truck not running I am stuck riding at home. Which hasn't worked because of all the rain and mud which has made my riding area dangerous to ride in. The last thing I need is for the High Queen to get put back on the injured list.

I did get to ride her yesterday for all of 15 minutes before it got too dark. And other than one little bit of naughty head flinging she was good.

In other happy dance news I got two early birthday presents. Last Saturday when it was postitively pouring rain hubs and I drove up to Richmond to visit the tack shop up there. Why? Dunno we had nothing better to do on a Saturday and we wanted to get out of the house. But while we were there my little eye spied the super expensive helmet I have been coveting for over a year. I had made the mistake of trying one on at the tack shop close to my house and Gods was it comfortable. But the price tag was the equivolent of a car payment. I just couldn't do it. But this tack shop had one left, it was my size, the right color, and hubs got them to drop the price significantly. Happy Birthday to me!

The second present I gave to myself. After I started healing from my broken leg I realized that I was not going to be able to get back in to my pull on style field boots ever again. I just can't get my foot in to the right position without a whole lot of pain. So I would need zip ups. I don't buy any other brand of boots but Ariats. I love them, they are super comfortable and I have never been unhappy with them. I found a pair of Cobalt Crowne Pro zip fields on eBay for a sweet price.  Birthday present #2.  Now I just need to break them in before the combined test in March.

There are only two, maybe three things left on my wishlist for this year. A jumping saddle*sigh so far away from that* a new coat to replace the one I've been wearing since I was sixteen, and a new bridle for the High Queen.

Anway nothing else new to report. Keep it between the flags everyone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

We went, we saw, we rode.

Captains Log 2012 *G*  sorry couldn't stop myself.  So last we left I had won the trailering argument with the High Queen, and the clinic with my hopefully new trainer was fast approaching.  Where does everything stand the day after the clinic?

In a pretty good place actually. I was in the last section of the day and wouldn't ride until 5pm, but I wanted to go early and watch the section ahead of me to get a feel for how C. treated his students, and did he have an agenda that everyone was taught that day, or did he help everyone with their individual issues? Sort of a did I get a personlized letter, or a form letter that everyone got?

My super fabulous husband aka photo/videographer and I loaded up the mare at noon and headed out for the three hour drive. I've never driven that far for a lesson, but I was desperate to ride with C. before he headed off to Aiken(winter mecca for all things eventing)in February.

It wasn't too bad a drive, and the High Queen settled in pretty well. When we arrived at the lovely farm where the clinic was being held I apprehensively left Seneca in the trailer hoping she wouldn't kick up too much of a fuss, but I kept one ear cocked in the trailers direction just in case.  From what I first saw of C.  he is sooo great.  He's funny, knowledgeable, and not a screamer.  That last one is a big one in my book.

When it was 45 minutes til my lesson hubs and I went out to tack up the mare and get our camera equipment. The High Queen when I checked her was calmly eating hay. That's a new one.  Seneca was a bit up and snorty when she got out of the trailr but she didn't freak out being tied. I got all her gear on with almost no fuss. We then tagged after one of my clinic session mates and warmed up a bit then just walked around until it was our turn.

I did have a moment to worry how the High Queen would react to the mirrors. The other indoor I had taken her to didn't have them. But she was unfased. Hmmm me thinks the High Queen likes looking at her beautiful self in the mirror.  She did eyeball it once when the big paint gelding in our class passed the mirror and she saw his reflection. But it was more like "Whoa there's two of them."  Our lesson probably taught me more than it did Seneca.  It taught me that a previous teacher who told me my mare was short strided was wrong. It taught me I need to relax and let her go forward and not be scared of her canter. I didn't know I was but C. saw it.  I think I scared C. a couple of times when it looked like I was going to eat dirt. But I learned my stirrups need to be shorter, my seat more secure and we need a lot more lessons with C.

I am hoping to get eventers in my area together so we can get C. to come closer to us.  That would be soo awesome if I could get him to say, Franklin, VA which is a whole lot closer than Powhatan.  We'll see.

And at the end of the lesson, when the cold set in, it was all of 22 degrees, hubs came out in the arena helped me untack, throw the cooler on the mare, carried my gear. I sooo don't diserve him. And then the High Queen stepped regally back on the trailer.  WOO HOOO! I think that was the best part.

Keep it between the flags everyone. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Lost the Battle but Won the War

After I calmed down from the anger and frustration caused by the incidents in the previous post I contacted my friend K. who not only runs a program to place OTTB's in good homes, it's the same program I originally got the High Queen from. Although K. doesn't know Seneca really well she did give me some fabulous advice.

K. basically said, "Nicole you are being too nice to her. She is your employee, she works for you, she has to do what you say. You need to tell her that and mean it."

I thought I had been, because I was pretty freaking mean when she ditched getting in the trailer at the indoor arena. But apparently not.  So the High Queen went back to "Trailer Loading Boot Camp."

And we had some progress in the first few days, but I wanted the horse I'd had in the beginning back. I wanted her to just walk on to the trailer no fuss, no pulling, no tantrums.  I wasn't sure I was going to get there, and then one day, we did
I could not believe it the first time Seneca just walked on behind me. Holy Crap! Am I hallucinating? But so far the new routine works.  She still gives me a "I'm testing you" moment the first time I point her at the trailer. But we just go for what I call a "leadership walk"  In which she stops, and goes when I say. And if she balks at the trailer she get's the business end of a yank on the chain over her nose.

This coupled with loading and unloading at least four times every time.  After I get to a new place we load and unload four times, when getting ready to leave we load and unload four times, and when we get home you guessed it loading and unloading four times.  Now the High Queen may still throw a tantrum the first time I ask but she freaking jumps in the trailer all "Yes Ma'am" when I ask the second, third, and fourth times.

Thank you K., and Thank you Horse Gods for finally giving my mare some sense.  If you are interested in getting your very own pain in the ass  lovely Thoroughbred please check out www.   These are great people doing a very much needed job and they are completely honest about each horse.

I will be riding at home this week, and then duh duh DUH! We go to the clinic next Sunday.  Sooooo excited. In less exciting news my stress level will go up significantly when I have to go back to work on Wednesday.  Damn work, damn job. HATE IT! But you know what my horse gets on the trailer!

Keep it between the flags everybody.