Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't want good, don't want good enough

There hasn't been a moment to breathe on my part since last week. Everyone has been training steadily for the last week or so in and out of the arena.

Sinari is doing fabulous. Aside from being due for chiro, she's been doing well with the pony yoga routine. The concentration hasn't been so much the movements, but riding through. Every movement, every transition has to be ridden through, no exceptions, and has to be ridden for an eight.

This, of course, has been a sticking point with the pony because she likes to throw herself around sometimes, but she's getting over it.

We've been working a lot more lateral work, adding power to the half pass, cleaning up my mental fart of a pirouette (which with this past clinic really cleared up some notions and gave a lot of solutions), even the changes are better.I'm slowly starting to get the idea of piaffe, but without mirrors or a confirmed pair of eyes, it's difficult.

About midweek, we took a break from the arena with her, and went out and galloped on ground that had dried out. She clicked off five miles at a solid pace and had recovery time in 10 minutes.I'm exceptionally proud of her fitness, which is making a huge difference in how long we can last in the arena, and in the test. By fall, with the crisp weather we should be cruising very well. 

Last week also marks one month since the bay dorky thing arrived. Danzador has done a lot for a month, and probably has seen more of the Western part of the country than I will in this lifetime.

It's been a busy month for him. Two chiro sessions, pool time, never ending work and very little time off, the poor guy isn't too sure about what he got himself into. 

Though, this week, it's been particularly intense. Danzador has taken the brunt of the time spent in the arena, simply because the weather and footing outside has been atrocious from all the rain, and my schedule and KESMARC's hasn't been meeting up.

Even when we get a reprieve, the footing is still saturated. This past weekend we were cleared to go out on the grass and we clicked off a few laps around the hill, it was fun to get him out and let him roll. His energy is fabulous, much more forward and uphill, and for a four year old, he takes compression with very little fuss.

In the arena, I introduced piaffe/passage work not too long ago and already is seriously latching on to it. He's not 100 percent comfortable in it, and it's a long way to being finished, but the idea of sitting and going uphill has already started to translate into the other gaits and under saddle. He can do about 5-6 steps in hand, which is a lot considering it's been seven days since we initially started toying with the concept and he needs to gain a lot of strength and topline to really develop.

The good news at one month is: he's becoming immensely stronger in the work as well and gaining definition. He's getting a better neck, his back looks fuller, and he's starting to get a hind end. I'm kinda excited about him for next year, considering this year is almost over. We have an outing with him next week, for a materiale class in Ohio.

This week my schedule gets interrupted to go to Hassler Dressage to manage Courtney King Dye's Horsemastership Clinic. It'll be my first time up at Rivers Edge. I'm looking forward to seeing what is a paragon of barn architecture and an epicenter of American dressage. Not to mention I get to hang with cool people. Always a bonus. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just a little bit of everything

Physically, it's been a very busy week.

There were multiple training days where people looked in on us, friends in town and travel days to new parts of the world.

Combine this with my birthday, a bunch of work, vet, doing entries, and chiro appointments, I'm happy to be back with an extra day to sleep in. Unfortunately there won't be a day off, there are horses to work that need catching up on and laundry. Never ending laundry.

The other reason for the straight ride through is the week after next is a trip to Maryland for the EDAP at Hasslers and then a short prep to  two back to back shows, HTBB and Meadow Lake, for the boys to compete at.

The big success story of the week was the three day clinic with Alfredo Hernandez, after what happened earlier in April, I really thought I wouldn't have another person to really push me along let alone be in my corner. Life is funny in that regard.

There's a lot that was covered and a lot of exercises were given. Many of which have become fast favorites, several more which were incorporated into the babies' programs.

We are also now confirmed in piaffe and passage. I knew Sinaris piaffe would be nice but in the passage she about unseated me because of the height and volume. I was laughing so hard not because of how high she bounced but the fact we were 60 meters down the pike and we were really doing it, when I thought I would have to truffle shuffle along into it.

In the process we scored more ability on the half pass and pirs through developing gymnastic ability versus just doing it over and over and over again.Which is what I was doing (and the definition of insanity in the process).

The entire funny bit was I was on the verge of not going, because for the most part I've felt in a rut for a long time and there was (and still is) a never ending list of things to do. I'm thrilled that I went and I'm more than eager to get back in the game.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tounge Tied

I have to say last week, I was really jealous of people in Virginia. Dressage at Lexington was going off and I feel left behind.

I was sorely tempted to take Danzador there, and in fact had the paperwork completed, but there was a minor complication- I hadn't ridden the horse yet and didn't feel exactly comfortable hauling five hours with a complete and total unknown factor.

Hindsight is this: I'm happy making that decision, but it left me without a ride for one of my favorite shows.

I kept track of the results all weekend, and was living again vicariously through friends and fellow competitors. Reba made up for being out of the loop, winning her first horse trial on her dressage score of 24 and change.  She's so far never been out of the ribbons and has been double clear on everything. The dressage scores keep going well too, nothing above a 35.

Instead of mourning a show, we threw ourselves into more training and conditioning.

Sinari is bearing the brunt of it, at least five days a week in the arena with two out on the hills working gallop and trot sets. The pony's fitness is light years from where it was two years ago. Even on hot days she's capable of doing a full 45 minute session (where I'm probably not as fit), her pir's are becoming much stronger and she's banging out two's regularly. This weekend we do more pi/pa work and hopefully get a base foundation in.

She's going to be under Lendon Gray for a day (poor timing on my part for not being able to do more than one schooling day). But anything for more eyes on the ground. 

The boys are starting the deep part of their summer workout program, three days a week on hills, one in the pool and two in the arena.

Danzador is coming along quickly, he was a little immature when he stepped off that trailer, but he's starting to seriously use his hind end and create balance. He will never be a fast horse, or do anything above training level speed, but it's not the purpose to be eventing fit, the purpose at this point is to develop more forward and the gears that we'll need later on down the pike. His lateral work is the highlight of the entire thing and is really helping him ramp the balance up and keep him honest in the connection. I'm tickled with him.

Fritz is going with his owner about 90 percent of the time, I have to say I'm a tad disappointed but, the owner loves riding him (and he loves his mom) and is accomplishing a lot of things. I step on him when he needs a bit more direction. She reminds me a lot of where I was at when Sinari was four.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

This is all I need

My hiatus from the world is coming to a close.

This year, after Florida, I made the decision to shut my barn doors for a little while and just regroup. For the last three years the pony and myself have been campaigning hard with the sole focus of reaching FEI. It's been an all consuming, ass-kicking goal. Now that we're here, the only other place to go is to finish out. But this meant stepping back and into a different place mentally.  

So the summer has been a nice break from the usual trek around the country I do.

But all good things...

Not only is the fall season near, but a few events are on the horizon. In July I have to trek to Hassler Dressage to manage Courtney's Emerging Athlete Dressage Program (EDAP for short).  It's about four days of intensive learning for the under 21 crowd. I couldn't be more pleased to be invited along to manage the day-to-day operation. I'm hoping to bring the pony or Danzador along for the ride for some extra education by Lendon, JJ, Debbie or Courtney herself, but we're still hammering out details.

I also have three days with Alfredo Hernandez which is great because I finally get time working P and P with better timing and feel and during the same week I have lessons with Cathy Fox, Lendon and JJ. 

One thing I will miss this year and it seems terrible, is Dressage at Lexington. I loved this show since I first started going to it two years ago. It's about a five hour haul from Lexington, Ky, but the facility, the management and the competition are very nice. It's low key, but not short on quality. It does a lovely job with Amateurs, awards, and making sure everyone feels at home. It's also the only show my family attends to, so I may or may not get to see my parents this year.

It's also one of the few shows that I can catch up with everyone all at once. I was debating about Danazador or Fritz for this show, but Danzador needs to develop more (not to mention my relationship with him) and Fritz, while he enjoys traveling, needs more conditioning.

With July here, and fall on us, it's time to ramp in again. 

This week Sinari really started comitting to I1. We aren't leaving PSG entirely behind, but really started working the elements of the I1 test, her trot work felt pretty good, her canter needs to be more adjustable. Her two's are going to be very fun, if only I could learn to half halt quicker. She's steadily doing trot sets for 1 hour with 4 minute rest periods. Canter-extended canter-collected canter hill sets are coming. The transitions are getting sharper. Pir's still feel interpretative somedays.

Danzador had the majority of the week off because he decided to roll on a nest of ground bee's and came in looking like Phantom of the Opera. Dork. We cleared him to ride again three days ago, and despite being ADD, he's a good boy. We're figuring each other out. He's fun as all get out and when he stops being a baby, he'll be very special. Overall he's really coming up in the balance, and forcing me to ride and lay a correct foundation. His main issues are curling, and sucking behind the leg.

Fritz was a serious star the other week as well- he went on his first official conditioning ride out in Shakertown, a historical farm out in Harrodsburg. This is where a lot of the hunt clubs, serious trail riders, and endurance riders ride and condition. The trails are spectacular out there and well maintained. He answered all the questions and was a happy boy. We're aiming him towards the IBOP in Coatsville, PA, with the thought of doing materiale and suitability in the summer and fall.