Friday, January 7, 2011

3 Days Time

So this video was from 3 days ago, but in those 3 days, I've been able to ride Yankee everyday and had quite some up and downs! Wednesday I had the day off so I took a good while to school some dressage and take some videos. Unfortunately I was a little hasty and took the videos in the beginning of our ride when he was still his fresh, so they weren't very good and he wasn't as relaxed as later in the ride. We were working on flying changes and side passes at the trot again, which went ok, just not solid yet. he gets the idea, but gets a little tense. The video above is just some trot and canter work, but its some pretttty good schooling gaits.

As usual I've been schooling with balance and relaxation for myself and it really seems to be transmitting to him when we school seriously. With Yankee, a strong outside rein with a strong outside leg and soft inside leg just behind the girth while half halting brings him together like Totilas :) So Wednesday, ok day.

Thursday I didn't want to do too much since we had been schooling really hard core so I hopped on bareback with the intent to go for a loooong RELAXING trail ride. Raquel was in the arena working Actress (Cheryl's Grand Prix [retired] broodmare that she is leasing) so I joined her to watch a bit. Actress is, the shit! I watched her do some lengthenings and was amazed. I told Yankee to watch the master and to learn by example...I'm pretty sure he scoffed at my attempt to show him what a real dressage horse looked like because he purposely looked away, lol. After watching Actress, I took Yanks out on the trail behind the jump course and he was....AWFUL. I cannot even explain to you how terrible! It's like he was trying to kill me! I've ridden him MANY times bareback, even when he was 4, and he had never been this horrid. His main arsenal was bucks but he didn't leave out shying at pointless nothings or rearing like pegasus. The bucks were espechially fierce-at one point in a bucking fit of his I literally was hanging on for dear life by his mane. My bum came off his back a good 6 inches and of course when I slammed back on his back he bucked even harder. It was a viscous cycle. Thursday, not so good.

Which brings me to today. On the flip side, he was an angel today. I began with long lining which transformed into asking for passage steps...which he did..WITH GUSTO! As with the flying changes, the steps happened by accident almost. I have been working with him on the flat (and not moving) with the steps of passage, the very basics-touch the whip to a leg, he lifts, and I reward. While trotting on the long lines today I told him to whoa and tapped his back legs and BAM, he collected up, sat down and did two steps of passage. I was stunned! So I asked again and got four steps! Its still in the baby stages and I don't think I will go too far with this since I will never have to do passage, but its still cool to know! After that I hopped on to ask for some simple stuff since we spent about 20 min on the long line extremely collected. Did a few side passes brilliantly and one flying change. Overall, friday good :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The # 9

The number 9 is not usually a daunting number, and actually it is one of my favorites. I consider all numerals of 3 to be lucky, especially, 3, 6, and 9. (I always manage to get one of those three numbers in my bridle # for shows.)

9 is the natural number following 8 and preceding 10. Nine is a composite number, its proper divisors being 1 and 3. It is 3 times 3 and hence the third square number . It is the first composite lucky number..

But this is the first time I have ever been worried about the number 9. See, it's Yankee's new age this year. Officially, by Jockey Club standards he turned 9 on the New Year even though his real birthday isn't until March.

Mot horse people would consider 9 a good age for a horse, still young and vibrant, but I am fearful of it for one reason-WE HAVE ONLY EVER OFFICIALLY COMPETED AT TRAINING LEVEL. I KNOW he has the potential to be successful as a preliminary horse and even intermediate, but I am starting to have doubts about a 4* competitor. We have the basics down but we just need to pull everything together.

He is NINE! To me he should be much farther along in his competitive career at 9 then training level. I know 6 and 7 year old horses that are at prelim or higher already. I guess the biggest problem has been money. I am not rich by any means and half my time has been spent working to make enough to scrape by, let alone have $$ for shows-wich leaves not much time for schooling or showing. Sometimes I wish I was rich and could buy what I want, but more so, I feel lucky to have worked for it all, knowing I did it and no one else. That DOES make me proud, but I get discouraged SO easily.

I thought I did the right thing going to college, but I also feel it led me back two whole years too. I don't think I'm where I should be for a 20 year old eventer. I envy those 17-18 yr old Young riders who are already successful. I Know what to do, I just don't have the means yet...

I have so many thoughts swirling in my head right now, too many to type, so I will leave it at that. My rant probably seems jumbled and doesn't make too much sense either but it felt good to get it out there.

I do see hope in many places though, including this horse who remarkably resembles my horse.

Conformation and technique wise. His name is Clifton Promise and is a very successful eventer in NZ. He id no. 1 in NZ, and placed 7th at the WEG's. Conformation wise especially, I worry at times for fear Yankee lacks strength, but looking at Promise, I have more hope :D

Monday, January 3, 2011

Twenty Eleven

It's super corny to make goals for the new year (everyone does it and gets all gung ho for a month), since I believe in making goals all year round or having "rough goals" (ones that shouldn't make you stress like crazy to achieve). Goals should be things that are attainable so one doesn't get discouraged, but also a titch challenging to make the task 'goal worthy'. So without much more delay my so called goals for 2011 are...(Drumroll please)

*Acquire a rig. Mesa need bad...if I am to show at all this summer and not let ANOTHER season go to ridiculous, useless, bactracking waste, then I need to find a truck and trailer ASAP. Not only for shows, but if Yankee gets hurt I need to be able to take him to a vet if trailering is a possibility. Plus, it just gives me freedom to get off the farm and go school elsewhere and, GASP, take lessons! What a novel idea..
* Give Yankee more pasture time. Horse thrive on pasture, its a known fact and common sense. Horses are natural grazers and wanderers and to pin them up in small paddocks and stalls is against their nature. Yankee is always happier when he is outside in a pasture. Right now, he has small 'pasture' (I think maybe half and acre paddock that used to have grass) and a smaller, gravel paddock as well as a wonderfully large stall. Granted I love where we board and I feel super lucky to be there, but when spring rolls around I need my boy in a pasture..with grass. He is a big thoroughbred that was born to run and be free (emotionally and physically), and right now (partly because of a little thrush and winter pasture limitations as well as scheduling with the workers..) he is limited to his paddocks. He is getting grumpy. Must talk to Cheryl.

*Keep Yanks feet healthy! Stupid, tiny, fragile thoroughbred feet. I've been giving him Biotin everyday to help with this and regular, good, farrier work. Hope to keep this up! Sadly, he is prone to thrush and breakage (if no shoes kept on), but we are trying! I tried barefoot and that was a disaster! took about 4 months to repair the damage...

*(Dressage Foundations) Continue throughness over back, active hindquarters, and steady connection in the bridle, TRY to overcome the head wagging in canter we always get marked down for. Cheryl revolutionized the way I think about dressagein ways I could barely describe on the internet. I plan to continue through the training scale and further develop in our dressage! As for the head wagging, I've always been told by judges its just a head set we have and not a true connection, but when I give the reins he always seeks contact, leading me to think its just a bad habit from the racetrack...hmmm.

* (
Dressage Movements) Master side pass at trot, extended trot, counter canter, flying changes and start working on half passes and doubtfully tempi changes. With as well as our school the other day went, I am uber confident that this goal will be acheived to some (or all) success! Side pass at the trot we already have, but not well at all-it lacks quite a bit of straightness, activity and cross step. We also have the extended trot idea, but Yankee is prone to rushing, rather than lifting and extending the legs...I know he can do it as I've seen him in the pasture! As for the counter canter- we have 2 steps, but thats all he has strength for. MORE! Flying changes we've done exactly 4 times, practice! practice! Half pass and tempi changes take A LOT of strength, which I hope to achieve, but this will be on my 'rough goals' list.

*(Jumping XC) CONSISTENT courses. Meaning no random ass refusals. Yankee is so weird, he loves jumping and is fearless but sometimes he gets a fairy in his head that makes him go coo-coo and he refuses. So Stooopid. My horse normally feels solid as a brick house underneath me and goes like a freight train on a course, however every once in a blue moon he will get all jello like and act like a pogo stick, then BAM, refuse. We must get over this as it is preventing us from moving up to Preliminary!!!! UGH

* (Jumping, Stadium) Keep those feetsies off the fences. This is mostly my fault..I have a maaaassive problem of throwing myself up Yankee's neck (wish I could find some pictures of a show this summer. They were quite drastic, by far the worst stadium ride of my life, but here's the website if anyone wants to see MAJOR FAIL- Now granted, there were some good fences, but mostly bad) and throwing him off balance. Been working on that though! See 'SHOCKER' post.

* Attend as many shows (USEA and jumper/dressage) as financially possible. I plan on getting a second job this summer to help with the whole poor college student thing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Yankee Wonder 2nd time doing flying changes

Dressage Again

Ok so I still don't have this youtube video thing down yet...I wanted this lower in the post, but whateves...and I wanted the video above this post on this one....GRRRR. Anyways, read on!

After a day of jump schooling, it is time for yet another dressage day. I got a wild hair up my bum and thought it would be cool to try to video tape our rides (with no one else there) like eventer79 does...I dont have a tripod, buuuut I did have a ledge! It worked surprisingly well!

Yankee was a gem today. Couldnt have asked for a more responsive, relaxed horsey...

With one random freak out moment!!

So one wild hair aside, Yankee was absolutely perfection today (in my eyes). I warmed him up free lunging as usual, then got on and schooled a lot of random movements, many figure 8's, half circles, etc. I don't want him getting too bored in the indoor and those seemed to keep his attention.

I wanted to revisit side-passes today since we had been having mucho trouble with them before break. As with last dressage school, I focused hard on centered riding and relaxation in my body and quick, clear aids. The cross over action was brilliant (not grand prix brilliant but Yankee brilliant) and he stayed pretty straight. Amazing what relaxation and clearness can bring you.

A little by accident too today, Yankee performed his very first lead change with me asking him to do so. It. Was. Awesome. I was doing a teardrop formation, starting off on the left (or right lead), 15 meter half circle then across the diagonal...I was trying to school counter canter but we just weren't communicating well enough and he was either falling out of the canter, or switching behind. So I decided to see if I could get him to fully switch on command. In the corner I simply switched leg aids and BAM! lead change. I was stunned! I never schooled lead changes because he does them automatically jumping and our dressage tests don't require us to. So, I tried it again...and BAM! lead change again! All together Yankee performed 4 lead changes pretty ok. He is better coming off right lead to left, but really for the first time asking, I was really happy!