Saturday, November 28, 2009

We were born to run

The small boy had visitors this week. The boy's mum, who hasn't seen him since he left the other farm, stopped by and admired.

Sincere performed all pony tricks for his visitor. Going up the big hill, going between the hay rolls, over the log and tarps and tapping his legs up.

He was so much fun and easy.

Did I mention easy? Short of fetching a stick he did everything without fuss. You can't ask more than that.

He was cheating a bit on his circles, but it was easily solved by pushing the rope at him.

Talked briefly to a few friends about his schedule next year. I don't know, but I would like to hit up one maybe two shows, and just get him out on the grounds. But first-- he needs to get into the trailer. Which should be easier after what we've been working on.

Today we also got official stuff in the mail from Arabian Horse Association. He's officially registered as half arabian, completely cool certificate and all. Onward and upward with Performance Horse Association, USEF and USDF as soon as holiday cash rolls in.

Need to pick up various supplies at Brumfields soon.

Also forgot that December is almost here. November's recap of the goals:
Check. way more relaxed now than at the end of the month. Endo Tapping has helped greatly.
Check. I can pretty much get him almost anywhere now. Very little resistance. 
-Learning to be in a stall
We started putting him in a stall last week, has accepted it readily, but still kind of distracted.
 He ground ties, however, haven't had the opportunity to be in the grooming stall for various periods of time. We'll have to revisit this.

-Trailer loading
-Stall time (something tells me he'll winter in one)
-Arena (which really ties into relaxing).

Diamonds on the soles of her shoes

Despite being thankful for a holiday, I'm not really thankful for the obligation which interrupted my life. Although, the pony wouldn't object. She got her holiday meal of soaked alfalfa and grain, feels quite refreshed from the cold weather and time off.

Riding took a back seat to holiday eating. We rode a grand total of two times this week, took Wednesday through Friday off and resumed today on the ground.

For the two time we rode, she worked once in the snaffle, and once in the double.

Felt limited due to weather. We were regulated to the indoor up until today. 

We namely worked on reactions.

The first day, I got the bright idea of schooling center line canter to halts and back to canter. Never mind I haven't worked on this line forever, nor have I particularly schooled transitions. It wasn't so smooth. Think more like performing crash landings and hi-ho silver impressions. Part of this was my fault, where I wasn't preparing, and even if we landed we landed crooked. But, we muddled through, and whenever I laid the word whoa down, it was a screeching halt.

The next day was better, we weren't able to work on lateral work, but took the chapter from December's Dressage Today's article from Steffen Peters and cleaned up the in and out portion of the extension and mediums and collection itself. This was fun testing how quick I could get a reaction out of the transition. The trot work was a little strong, but the canter work was very nice, getting three's and eventually four steps back and fourth. Sinari sustained much longer, and was more engaged through this instead of just doing collection or just doing mediums. It will probably be added to the routine fairly regularly.

Today though, we worked on the ground, I wanted her to have a stretch day with the flexibility to work on half steps and mediums. She worked out great, and I'll get back on tomorrow. I have a new bag of exercises I want to try out.

December's goals:
Three on the spot steps of piaffe
Clean changes when asked for
Lateral work

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saturday Sessions 1.2

Pick a gait and start on the center line. Half circle 10 m to the right, sharp turn to the left, short diagnol, half circle to the left and halt at X.

More advanced versions:
Smaller half circles. Random transitions. Add lengthening/medium/extension on the diagnol. Add half steps on the circle. Add flying lead change, simple change if going in the canter. Counter canter on half circle and pirouette on the turns.


I love center line work. You don't have the cheat of the rail to keep straight. It also has a degree of risk about working in the open.

But working center lines can be boring, tedious, and not always productive. By incorporating the two half circles (ala first level test two), you test straightness and flexibility. The second circle especially sets up for the halt at X. The short diagnol leaves a lot of options open, initially use it to teach balance on long lines, bu work toward develop lengthenings and later add to it for the flying or simple change.

Better days

I'm a little late on posting about Thanksgiving, but honestly, I had my reasons.

I love Thanksgiving, it's one of the few actual holidays that I enjoy and positively associate with. It's a holiday not about getting, but giving. It's about what you bring to the table and contribute, not what you get out of it.

As 2009 draws to an eventful close, I have a lot to be thankful for.

I'm first and foremost, thankful for my family.

My standard definition of it is fairy skewed. Yes, I have genetic relations who are family (and I do love them), but then there are the non-relations who truly co-create the core. The boy being the top of that list.

These people have stood by me during horrible lows and air-thin highs. They've seen me at my worst, at my best and every stage in between. I think there are some things in the works in the near future, and hopefully it will work out to the best.

Tying quickly for that spot, is Sinari. The wonder pony continues to amaze and delight. She's my rock. The only horse that I know, even for the bad rides, there are several awesome ones coming down the pike. She teaches me daily. I look at her every day and think how beautiful and amazing she is. I look at her everyday, and feel lucky to be her's and share in her life.

I am thankful for Sincere. I'm thankful that he's taught and rewarded my patience (or lack of at moments). Six months ago, I was in a bad spot with a barter that went wrong. He was still unborn, and was prepared to give up everything to walk away clean. But providence came in and said wait. He's rewarded me tenfold and will be excited to see how he develops.

I am thankful for the cats, who serve not only as my personal alarm clocks, but are willing to sit with me during the rough spells and tough blogs.

I'm thankful for a job. Even though I dislike it, I still have one. It's the first job I feel that I've actually feel successful at. It still pays the bills, is paying for a number of other things and will be allowing me to go and get my advanced degree(s) done. It's allowed me to mature, not just as someone in the work force, but as a human.

I'm thankful for my supporters and my critics, who help keep my team going and keep me humbled enough to keep on reaching.

Thank you all who have supported the team, who comment or email or send positive vibes. May your leftovers be plentiful, your smiles infinite and your worries few. May you all find happiness in those around you and have the grace to weather the changes that come.

Merry Thankgiving.

Kelly, Sinari, Sincere, Osmosis, Kiwi
Team EnGaged Dressage

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It figures

The little man continues to grow.

So much so his figure eight halter, the one that was uber-large and hanging off his nose when he was six hours old, was so tight at six months that it began rubbing is nose raw.

I found an old halter that will do as an in between, but really needs the crown replaced.

His mind is growing as well. This week we worked on a variety of things, making the stable into his schoolroom.

When we got out of the field, he is still a little hesitant about going in the barn, especially at the new entrance (hey, we don't go in there we go out!)

We started by feeding in the stall. He's still more interested in getting out, but at the same time, the emotional eater in him can't ignore food. Plus it sets up routine.

In the end, he was great.

In the stall, we worked on tying, grooming and getting out of my space. On the side I worked on stopping and going. It's easier in he stall than it is outside, less distractions.

Tapping him in the stall is easier as well, he worked on relaxing/stretching and learning to independently pick up his legs by just tapping on them. A helpful idea to get piaffe/passage down the pike.

Shortly after we lead to the grooming stall where he's learning to stand in a busy environment, challenge for the young man. But despite being fidgety- he tried to do well. We left there quickly and tackled the tarp.

In the last session I set up a tarp and log exercise. Goal was not to get overly excited about it (or run away or jump on me or barge), and get him to walk over the log at different points/heights. This was accomplished pretty readily last week.

This week we repeated by walking on the tarp, over the log, both directions with the added bonus of setting up for the triangle.

To the left he was great. Did everything including stepping over the largest part of the log.

To the right, we are unpracticed. It took him several attempts at turning around before he got the message that going right, leading right, and moving off to the right is just as important as going to the left (it also shows how uncoordinated I am). Eventually he got it, and we went on successfully conclude standing up for conformation, which he's whip smart about.

Personally, I think he enjoys the attention and I think he'll definitely shine in an arena like that

This week, I don't know what our session will be due to holiday, but I'm going to try some different conceptual exercises for him such as lay down and bow. It would be a low-impact way to strengthen the muscles and add another fun thing to work on .

Added news: we're officially registered with Arabian Horse Association. Will be sending in the Performance Horse Registry/USEF stuff soon too.

She moves in mysterious ways.

It was an interrupted week at best with uncooperative weather.

It wasn't anyone's fault for the interruptions, I needed to go to physical therapy and the timing on some of the rides were just late or off.

For the better part, we were stuck indoors.  Which sucks, because it was sunny outside for two days (but the footing was soggy).

Sinari worked fairly well in both bridles, her time in the snaffle is more productive because of the time in the double. I think I still prefer riding in the double, but the snaffle keeps me honest as a rider.

We worked on a number of exercises, but the one thing that's bothered me is the changes. Lately she's been fumbling them, ignoring the aid during the later half of the session.

I think it's a combination of things.  First, she working twice as hard now that the connection has been solidified since she's been in the double, so she's tiring that much more.  Secondly, the new footing is deep, which again is making her stick a bit in some different areas and finally, I think the arena probably feels a little claustrophobic to her, it's also a similar case in the extensions.

So I'm leaving the subject for awhile (or at least until I can get back outside) to concentrate on other things.

Like shoring up those extensions, make the passage more passage-y, to collection and working on some variants of shoulder and haunches in. There's also a chance to work over some cavaletti to help with a lot of this and break up the routine.

Despite being stuck with the changes, there were a lot of highlights.

Half pass is getting stronger, however, we need to slow the canter down and make it more lateral. I put the piaffe more on the spot by making it into a pirouette. She's quicker to change gaits in the lateral work as well. She did a full test zig-zag at the walk with no issues as well.

So the goals this week, despite facing another interrupted week are to clean up the transitions, work more elements of the PSG (possible string a few together, try those exercises Steffan Peters outlined in December's Dressage Today, go outside and gallop a little more and just make it fun again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saturday Sessions 1.1

Pick a place in the arena along the wall. Begin a slightly small(er) 8 meter circle and at the top of the circle half pass steeply back onto the wall. Go straight. Begin second 8 meter circle and repeat.

More advanced versions:
Use the short side and fewer steps. Add passage, turn on the haunch and pirouettes. 

Due to the size of the preparatory circle, it makes the horse rock back into more of a turn on the haunch and automatically positions for a steExcellent tool to teach the horse to turn on the haunch without loosing energy or impulsion.

Furthermore, it teaches the horse also a more refined outside rein aid. Teaches the rider about what the good turn on the haunch feels in addition to building up the gaskins and the haunch without going over kill on the pirouette work. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curb your enthusiasm

It's been a really productive and exciting week with Sinari.

While the weather has been cooperating with us, we've been progressing pretty far and fast.

It's the perk of having only one to concentrate on. The down fall is I'm looking like my Thanksgiving supper, overstuffed.  Time to hit the gym.

But first the recap:

Sunday and Monday we took off again from work. Scheduling is still being a pest on this one, but I think I finally got it under control.

Tuesday was crisp and just about perfect to go galloping on the mile loop. We opened up the conditioning route with a brisk walk for the first quarter and then a slow canter, putting emphasis on not changing the speed or the rhythm despite the rolling terrain.

We went back to the arena for the rest of the week at various lengths. Somedays, I work twenty minutes and other days, it's pushing 45 and also in various outlines. Depends on what needs to be accomplished and what is being offered that day. But ultimately, I just want her to feel good in the work.

In that work is getting the solid extensions, working through multiple changes, variations of the half pass, passage (out of the mediums), the zig-zag and the new fun trick- pirouettes (still pales to piaffe, but still ultra fun to ride).

The cherry on the cake was schooling 3/4's of the PSG (not in any particular order). Minus tempi's. Tempi's aren't our strong suit yet, but we did accidentally obtain them last week. I'm kinda looking forward to accidentally getting them again soon.

But in running through bits and pieces of it, I feel we'll be along those lines soon enough. It's just a matter of obtaining tempi's and more strength.

We also presented formally in the double to our coach.

I've been riding in the double bridle on and off for a month. It's usually once a week towards the back half of the work week. Some of he work has been serious, and some of it has just been goofing off in it.

Sinari enjoys working in it because it's a much more refined aid and I can keep out of the way. I like working in it because it keeps me incredibly honest. 

For those who haven't ridden in it, it's a different kind of work. I have at least three times the pony in it and we're capable of doing that much more work. At one point or another, I wanted a horse that could go FEI in a snaffle. Call it a point of pride, but there's a lot to be said about doing most of your work with simplicity.

I didn't want to fiddle with the double, heck, I didn't want to wear spurs either. Its because that we've been going in the double, she's more responsive in the snaffle and has more energy. It's because I have spurs on I don't nag. For her, she want clear, defined communication.

However, there is a learning curve. When I presented that day, I learned I cannot take equal contact on the curb and snaffle. That I'll get used to hearing that as well. And all that leather. Oy.

On tap for next week is upping her time in the double, getting a more confirmed piaffe, possibly working over poles to help with the passage, work the pir's and more half pass and passade.

I ain't no millionaire's son

It's been Indian Summer all week. While I've donned light sweatshirts and rolled up my jeans to get my work done without breaking a sweat, I can't help but sitting out in the sun.

Even the horses seem to be enjoying the last bit of fall.

Sincere was great this week.

We took a break from the usual routine of going in the arena. Instead after leading out of the field, we just went in the grooming stall, and, for the first time in recent memory, in an actual stall.

The last few weeks have been a bit back and forth with him. He's young, and it's to be expected.

But, I think this week, we've reached a turning point.

In the field he was lagging behind. I had no whip on me (or food), just the cotton lead rope attached to his halter, which after circling once, he got the point that going forward isn't an option.

He lead extremely well after that. No pulling of the human or the horse, and no running backwards. I can't tell you how pleasant it was to just walk along side him without having to kick up a fuss.

Everything was fine until we had to go up to the truck. Like most people, my truck is a mobile tack room. I have my clippers, treats, supplies, laundry and of course, the occasional Grande dirty chai from Starbucks cooling off in the drink holder.

Most, if not all horses that I ride or work with need to go near this truck due to being absent minded. I usually forget something, whether it be my boots, or the sugar cubes to pay the pony. Being young, he doesn't quite all together understand the concept of ground tying. So he's attached while I'm rummaging for his supplies. 

He walked up and stood as I got in the truck to search for the infernal saline solution for five minutes, never once pulling back or trying anything.

At this point, I'm ready to quit, he's been great.

But I wanted him to go into the grooming stall and just stand up for a few and get used to the idea of being fed in a stall.

He walks in, occasionally stopping, thinking and moving on. We get into the area and he's fairly pushy, wanting to be in everything and everyone. It doesn't take long to settle him in and walk him out to the regular stall for his feed and a tap session.

Sincere is hesitant about regular stalls. He has been for a while. Probably because aside from being born in one, he hasn't spent too much time in them. He went in with a little reluctance, but after getting his food he settled in. I start playing with him, Endo Tapping him, picking up his feet and just touching him all over. Afterward, we lead by the giant blue tarp of doom (scary in the first three seconds, giant plaything in the next two) and over some logs and trotted back to the paddock.

Aside from a little screaming, he was a star. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Saturday Sessions 1.0

I've had some specific requests for exercises that I do under saddle with the ponies. I'll try to post them on Fridays so those who want to try can work on them Saturday.  All the credit goes to Sharon Vander Zeal who comes up with the most interesting work during for my Saturday Session with her.

Apologies in advance for my lack of MS Paint skills. I'll improve later, promise!

This is the exercise I mentioned a week prior and felt it was a good place to start. I left the arena unmarked simply because the majority of the work can be done symmetrically and at all three gaits.

Start at the center line, shoulder in two steps, half pass three, straighten then leg yield two then shoulder in again. Switch bend, half pass, straight, leg yield, shoulder in. You should end up in the corner, where I let Sinari stretch down.

More advanced versions: 
leave out the shoulder in, add steeper lines, add/subtract steps in half pass/leg yield.

Teach the zig zag and quicken the changes of bend without drilling one particular movement. It also makes the rider very aware of what they're doing in the saddle and quicken them up to that bend change.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On and on we go

The little boy is growing up.

The last few weeks he's been stubborn about leading. Backing up, carrying on about not wanting to leave the herd.

The plant and freeze is highly annoying to begin with. The backing up is worse. 

Being forward, is more than important to me. It's a concept that he cannot ever say no to.

So for the past month whenever we worked, we went on short walkabouts. First it was to the truck. Every time he would stop and plant, we would circle, stop and circle about some more until he got the point. Every time he would run backwards he would be tapped up until he accepted being forward.

When he was weaned, we started going farther. We started exploring the inside of the barn and more of the surrounding fields.

When May left we started going to the barn.

Being nervous he ate his way through his mash in the wash stall, and nearly freaked at the sprinkler in the adjacent arena on the first day. He still occasionally trips over the back of my heels. The subsequent days he was fine about the wash stall and walking in and out of the barn.

This past week though we had one bout, and the rest of the time outside was ultimately pleasant. He went from having breaks to having none sometimes. So now, he's learning to chill and maybe reinstalling some breaks.

November's goals:
-Learning to be in a stall

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hey soul sister

What a fabulous week!

Not just in weather, but in training.

Weather wise, it was clear, sunny and warm. Indian summer. Color, was phenomenal. Every tree in the surrounding counties peaked in color.

Aside from the weather, the pony was all systems go in training.

I think schooling outside makes a huge difference in the routine, and I was so happy to have my outdoor back from the muck and sludge that the rain had turned it into.

Sunday and Monday she had off. Namely due to my time constraints, by Tuesday, we were back. Starting the week out with a hack around the property (and promptly trying to turn into a giraffe at the pit Bar-B-Q thing in the drive). Despite the back fields being occupied, we worked deeply on bend. When we hit the polo field I wanted to canter a bit. She felt wonderful, threw in some changes too.

Wednesday was the highlight of the week, we were back in the arena. I really wanted to test her meddle with some serious fourth level work and maybe an FEI movement or two. She pulled out really green canter zig zags with the change, half steps to canter and a series of accidental tempi's.

Thursday was mild, put her on the lunge. Played with collection and the mediums. By the time we hit the mediums I was running down the long side of the arena to get the hocks going. Doing this on a bum pulled hip is not the brightest of ideas, but hell, it looked great.

By Friday, we were in the double working forward (she was mildly sucking back). Figured out she didn't like having the curb, which I normally tie up, flopping around when warming up. Saturday we pulled it all together for micro pir's, passage, half steps, medium/extensions, the zig-zag exercise from hell and a few other pony tricks.

She was so awesome, today she got the day off. Next week I present in the double bridle. Can't wait.

Monday, November 2, 2009

If you change your mind

Last week was fairly easy for Sinari. It was a catch all towards the last half of the week with riding and schedule obligations taking over my life.

With the bad weather, we were mostly regulated to the indoor. But for the work was great quality. We did solid third level work and played with a number of stretchy days to keep it easy.

Life went so well that we threw on the double for giggles and learned I had more horse than I thought.

She's had the double on before, just for hacking about, zero contact on the curb. I'm normally trying to figure out how to gather the reins and what goes where. I'm also paranoid about making her stop-y or any less sensitive.

This time, I picked up the curb contact and went with it.  I actually figured out the reins, and we went to work. Aside from one half pass where she didn't know what I was asking for, she was still forward, but far more up in the shoulders and through. I felt like I was out of her face, which I think she appreciated.

I want to think she prefers the double, but right now I think it's too much of a novelty right now. I personally still prefer my snaffle, but I like the results of the double and what kind of rider it expects me to be.

The lesson was great, definitely has the half steps down pat (despite pulling through a bit to the right), the turn on the haunch is confirmed and the half pass is cleaned up, just need to make it more FEI-ish.

I also think we're due for the massage lady to come out and work on her. Despite being tapped daily, there are certain muscle groups that seem to be binding with the work.Also need to get the saddle re-flocked, it's been one year.

This week, because the weather is going to be just darn nice, I want to go out for a fall gallop, work more on what we've been working on and try the double again.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Baby, baby



Sincere was due for some photos. Figure I share from this weekend's exploits. It was his first time in the regular arena.