Friday, May 28, 2010

Edward Gal is in my backyard.

When I was young, on of my online friends and I used to try to guess what we'd be doing if we had the cahones to ride at the top. I said train and work with the best.

About 10 years later, the cosmic joke is on me.

I work in and around the very best the industry has to offer. I've worked with super-cool judges, riders and trainers from around the world.

I've learned a lot while helping others learn as well. While I may not have the best horse of the group, it's helped us all signifigantly.

In short, it's a sweet gig.

But nothing was cooler when I got the email from Nicole Werner of Stal Werner-Gal confirming that Gal will be clinicing for Team EnGaged on September 18th.

This is a limited rider clinic, five rides with some of the best up-and-coming pairs in the nation (the rest will be just down the road at WEG).

Yes, we are allowing auditors. Get your tickets in fast, I don't imagine that they will stay long when word gets out. For those who can't make it, it will be live webcasted.

Taking it a step further- we're holding a benefit raffle for the Para Equestrian Team, with sweet schwag from our various sponsors.  Stay tuned for schwag deals.

I look forward to seeing a few of my blog readers there.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mystery Dates

You all know I've had ambition on reproducing Sinari, the list of sires just got a little longer when they announced Power and Paint was retired to stud.

This paticular stallion was the anchor for the Dutch pony team for years on end, he taught numerous now-elite riders and was schooled essentially through all of the FEI (FEI pony tests and FEI tests are two different things).

I initially inquired about him back in 2003, was then unavailable because of training and competition. But he has since then been sold, and retired to Stable Korenbloem. A whopping 450 euro fee.

I put my inquiry in again, hopefully, things this time will pan out and I'll have my own power pony on a lucky double ovulation.

To the well once more

Between ark building exercises (it's rained that much), and acupuncture sessions, the pony is getting to be stronger.

But still, we've been put on the slow track of every-other-day work for the next two weeks.

It seems only appropriate considering that the change of weather has marked the start of summer.

Summer here is one long, slow day after another.

It's only reflective of plateau and ce la vie attitude that we've adopted.

It's too hot to do serious work until the mare has adjusted and the schedule has us set up where I don't feel that working beyond the basics is conducive to doing any of the upper level work. So, we've been out of the double and have been working exclusively in the snaffle. 

This for me sucks.

I love riding in the double, and she does as well, but physically- it's a demanding piece of equipment and you can do a lot of harm alongside the development aspect. It's not like she goes just as nice in the snaffle as the double, it's just she recycles much better in it. I also like working five to six days consistently.

So for the week, I've regulated us to the down, round and low; lateral work and transitions. Cleaning up and solidifying what we know while waiting in the wings to get back on track.

Meanwhile, grass growing season is here. As you can see above, Sinari has begun to take advantage the long, lazy days and making hay while the sun shines.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Long beautiful hair

 Conformation May 2010

Movement Shot May 2010

May 2010

Movement 2010

May 2010

I figured we were due for a photo update with Sincere. It was his first official photoshoot, complete with main pulling, conformation shots and braiding. Lindsey Oaks-Solorzano (Red Letter Eventing) did a fantastic job of braiding and standing him up while I manned the camera.  Honestly, for a yearling- he doesn't look too shabby.

Monday, May 17, 2010

One isn't the loneliest number

One year ago on May 16th a much anticipated colt arrived late into the world. 

Tell me where the light is

With the rain and the dreary, it's hard to be motivated to walk to the indoor.

Yes I can be lazy too.

The good news is that it looks like there will be at least two cuttings of hay prior to June. That is, if it stops raining.

The work after the acupuncture has been going very well. She is much better about the double and the forward and back work. The lateral work came late in the week is a little bit of fuss and the changes... well... the changes are there, but since we've upped the anti on them, things have been slow to develop. Pony negotiation tactics.

We did manage to pull off several really nice working pirouettes, and she has a much better piaffe. This week looks more like a sharpening week where we work on transitions in and out of the gaits and the never ending battle of lateral work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On pins and needles

Last week I spent a little time in the saddle, and most of it on the ground.

I've started what I've promised to start- a support program to help maintain the pony through the hard work ahead.

We ended the week well enough, still stuck in the same problems, but coming along. I paused Wednesday through Friday for three full days of equine and human physical therapy.

Truth is, FEI in any discipline is hard work. It demands the most out of the partnership, it is unforgiving as it is rewarding.

My normal routine with Sinari pre-ride involves stretching, a bit of tapping and a few other things, post ride is bath, and aqua therapy (technical term for cold hosing legs). She is fed supplements, and has regular massage/chiro work done. I have regular body work done as well.

But we were plateauing in some areas. 

We've taken it one step further- we've added acupuncture to the venture.

Prior to the first session I was a serious skeptic. It seemed more like bunk science than anything else. But considering the source (my vet), I bit.

For about an hour, the good doctor palped, pushed and poked the pony. She put needles in various spots, with B-12 in the tips, wiggled a few around, removed and repeated everything. She cracked a few spots in the lower spine, adjusted her neck, and managed, beyond my belief to accurately diagnose the problems we have been having for the past three weeks without seeing Sinari jog a single step.

When it was all said and done, I was sold. The pony's posture improved dramatically, her range of motion was huge and she was twice as relaxed. Her joints were flat, and even after three hard rides, she was non-reactive across her back.

I about nearly cried. If you have the chance, get acupuncture done.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

101 Things: Number 93: Schoolmaster

One of the best things a rider can do for themselves is the gift of education.

Education comes in many forms, books, DVDs, media, forums, instruction, symposium, and a variety of sources but usually, the best is something that has been there, done that and knows the ropes.

Enter the schoolmaster.

These are university professors reincarnated into horse form. They know all the movements, they know how to do them correctly and they know that you don't know any of it.

Usually they are the unassuming 12 plus year old geldings that is a little too worn out of the showing, but still too young for full retirement, who has a low level of tolerance for mistakes and green riders, but won't bury them near the bushes. These equine gems are worth their weight in gold, teaching correct feel, execution and how to ask for specific movements.

The title isn't limited to ex-FEI horses, you can have a schoolmaster who is great from level to level.

The benefit is riders become stronger, more knowledgeable with their aids, gain more confidence through asking for more advance movements and a stronger seat, which translates down the levels to green horses. 

If you have the opportunity especially to ride the upper level masters, do so. You'll thank yourself in the end.

No one said it was easy

April lent itself to more schooling, more lessons and undoubtably more work to do.

Sinari, as she is fitting up, is becoming stronger in the FEI work. While I doubt that will be confirming PSG by fall, we will most likely be to that point to run through the entire test.

I've begun to think about next year already, which is unfortunate because this year isn't half way done yet. I would like to be at Devon if we qualify, the CDI in my backyard and with the Gladstone Pony Championships getting underway, I would like to attempt to qualify for those as well.

To compete with the best, you train not only as smart as you can, but as hard and with the best. I feel incredibly lucky to receive two opportunities to go out and play. First is with Christoph Hess, the I Judge, the second, I can't announce yet, but just being able to sit on the sidelines and watch him in action is something I couldn't imagine happening.

Recapping April:

Her pirouette work has come a long way, her left is better than her right, but she is turning, and with the dozen or so new exercises that Sharon and Patience have given me to work on the next 30 days,  my favorite of which is the canter-walk-canter transition in the pirouette. Sinari doesn't think it so amusing.

Half pass has improved ten fold, but still needs work. I think it's due to me finally learning to deflect the outside shoulder an sweep the outside hind under. She's more straight, and vertical but gets a little cranky still. We managed to pull off a number of good ones in recent weeks.

Half halts better, not as bad, but still need to be sharper.
More educated transitions through the gaits came late this month thanks again to Patience who had us road trotting around the arena to transition to passage-y steps back out to road trot medium. Sharon capitalized on it, working in and out of half steps making sure that the transitions run clear.
Saddle that fits properly. I finally got something as an in-between of the Duett and a custom. Vicky lent me her old Ideal Jessica, which fits far better (except it needs extra girth holes) than the Duett. Sinari has an appointment with County in two weeks. Can't wait to start rolling with them.
I didn't get to school through PSG at least once, but we schooled a number of things from it.
And we're back in the double bridle two to three days a week.

May's goals are:
Four and three time changes (we do them but I'm not counting them)
Pirouette and half pass.
Transitions, transitions and more transitions

All hung up

Since my stint at Rolex and with the clinic, the small lad has not had much time to train or be handled between rounds. I was lucky to go out and scratch his neck before I disappeared into the fog of a weekend.

The young man must have had ants in his pants because a friend called to say he became hung up on a board on the fence. He's alright, and while he's no worse for wear, his halter needs replacing.

It was about time, he was growing out of the old one with the crown on it's last holes and the halter itself being on its last legs. No bother, go to my old tack trunk and find another.

Now it's the end of April and just the start of may and what did we accomplish? Much of nothing except a little triangle work. So more of April in May and only 15 days till his big 0-1!