Saturday, March 17, 2012

Some Dress-age.

Yesterday, I decided it was time to practice a "real" dressage test with Jackie. In April she is doing a dressage show to practice for her first event in May (Queeny Park).

I wanted to do work before we both left for a week for Spring Break. I think the pony will enjoy the down time, since he's been worked almost 6 days a week since January, but since the show is the 2nd weekend in April, and we get back on the 30th, time is running out!

Yankee was NOT amused when he heard our plans.

Did I mention it was 82 degrees? Again. in March. I'm dying.

My plan was to watch her warm up and give her some tips from the Claudia clinic last weekend. I don't remember if I ever explained what she had me work on, so I'll give you a quick run down.

Since Yankee is an OTTB he is always crooked and stuck to the right. Even after 7 years, he STILL struggles to the right and gets hella tense in the neck and shoulders, cricks his head, crooked in the barrel, and opposite crooked in his haunches.
Exibit A:

Oh man. What a disaster.

I've tried everything in the book to keep him from doing that. (Look at my header photo. Can you see the crooked head in dressage?) We always get lower scores to the right, and its SO frustrating. Nothing I've tried has worked though, until Claudia came along last weekend.

She had me put him on a circle and take up a very strong (but giving) hold on the outside rein ONLY. The inside rein had minimal contact and was only used for half halts where needed. OK, so on the circle. We started at the canter since that is his easier gait. Oustide rein, STRONG inside leg (full contact, not just calf/heel), encouraging him to pick up that inside shoulder and barrel and counterbend him to the outside. The goal was to use counterbend to straighten/lengthen his frame. Confusing right?

It was at first to me. BUT, since Yankee does not respond to half halts on the inside rein, both rein contact, leg yeilding to straighten, keyhole method, etc etc. The inside leg, drop inside rein, contact outside rein to counterbend was almost like MAGIC. Its very hard to explain and not be able to demo, but basically, using inside leg with the outside rein contact in a pulsing motion, encouraged him to straighten his whole body, lifted his back, lengthened his frame and reeeeally let him stretch into the contact.

The results were crazy good. He responded so well to this excercise, and even though he was only able to lift his back and actually be straight for more than 3 strides, it was a step forward!!

Jackie demonstrating the "Claudia" method. You can see his nose tipped, but he hasnt quite swung his barrel over, however, he is actively moving forward.

We worked on that for about 15 minutes. Jackie got the hang of it! While she finished her warm up, I drug about a million poles in place to make a make-shift dressage ring. I was ridiculously sore from kickboxing the day before (gotta get sexual for FL) and it was basically torture. Oh, what I do for horses/friends. After I got them in place, I realized I made the ring about 15 m too short. Yeah, F that, we went ahead and practiced in a tiny ring.

Gettin that walk sexual

I LOVE this trot :)

Really reaching!

canter lovelies

Active walk: accomplished.

Relax Yankee, reeeelaaaaaxxxxxx

During the practice test, LOVE the uphill-ness here

Can we please talk about how nice jackie's position is here?

Butt muscles!!! Stomach Muscles!!!

Collecting back up from the free walk

Overall, it was a great school. hot, but productive. Jackie got the run down of a basic training level test, and Yankee got used to her riding him in a test. Jackie also worked on her position in the dressage saddle, since she rarely rode in one.

Love mah pohnee

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jump school

Before we dive into the juciness that is this post, I wanted to share this photo with you all!

This is Dolly, my first horse. She was 18 and I was 10 in this picture, fresh off the broodmare farm. Her baby ate her tail, she was fat from foaling and was extremely high spirited. She is only 14 hands, so you can see how tiny I was!

Here she is at 24- we had just won the hunter jumper class in 4H

And here she is today! She turned the big 3-oh.
I love this mare and was so happy that she is still alive and well with her family in SC

OK so anyways. Normally I don't ride during the week. Sun/Mon are my days and Jackie rides T-W-F and sometimes Saturday. He gets Th and Sat off. However, my boss told me not to come in today so I had the day free! And it was 84 degrees. And Hannah wanted me to jump Pronto. And I wanted to give Jackie a XC lesson. UM. ABSOLUTELY.

So we got out to the barn at 5, handy boyfriend in tow. Myself on Pronto, Hannah on her old-man pony and Jackie on Yankee. We were pumped for XC schooling! Even though the fences were tiny and nothing special, better than nothing! One of these days we will legit go schooling somewhere but i'm pretty lazy and hate paying someone.

Shun Yanke. Shunnn-n-n-n-n. He says "Whatevs. All the shits I do not give".

Not 100% sure what I was explaining here

AND I love this picture.

Jackie has never done down/up banks so we worked on that. She did pretty excellent for the first time. All the other fences were cake, but I really need to get her someplace to school combos and tougher, bigger fences.

We did some grid work because we got bored out on the XC. Yankee was a PISTOL. Pronto loved it and I hope next time we can raise them a bit for him.

Pretty good for a first timer

Too easy

Ba hahahaha oh Pronto, so cute

This cracks me up!!

So scenic

So yeah. Thats about it. Not much else really to explain, hope you guys enjoyed that!

Monday, March 12, 2012

OTTB Shopping

I want all of them. ALL.

I REALLY WANT this guy. Ebony Express, 16.2, 5 year old

Final Fitz, 16.1

Hunk O Bernin Love, 16.3 Mare

Chase the Blaze 16.2

Foxy on Sunday, 15.3

Look familiar??

Ringing any bells now?

A direct relative of Yankee. They are half brothers! FATE.

I found him while OTTB shopping. He is adorable! 3 years old, gorgeous and 16.1hh. With one major flaw. An old fracture :( He won't ever be suitable for jumping. Heart. Crushed.

I've been looking for TBs for over a year, and every time I find a nice one, they get adopted in less than a day. NO LUCK for meeeee.

I'm being picky this time and trying to avoid New Vocations (as much as I love them) because you can never re-sell their horses. I have strict requirements: must be at least 17 hands, no older than 5, 3or 4 is preferable, and preferably not a mare. Not a fan of mares. Also, of course, good proportions, sound, etc etc.

Thing that sucks about OTTBs is that most of them are not sound for jumping, barely 16 hands or have horrible conformation. Thus why they are racetrack rejects. FRUSTRATING.

All of these ones are under 17, but over 16.1

Afleet Flama, Afleet Alex baby!

One of the nicest TBs I've seen

Kinda heavy on the forehand, but still cute

I can't win! :(