Theme for the week- get in front of my leg

It’s been a bit of a dead week at the barn, overall. Foster twisted a shoe Tuesday, and was ever so slightly foot sore, which improved slightly Thursday but was not entirely eradicated. Saturday he was back to 100% and so I asked him to really dressage, and get-in-front-of-my-leg-dammit. Using the advice from the clinic, when he started to tranter to avoid a more forward trot, I put more leg on, and if he broke into a canter that was fine, but he was going to go forward in that canter before coming back again. Now that I think he is strong enough to do a forward trot I do not want to teach him to escape it with some trantering nonsense.

Again no new photos..

Still no new media / PC: High Time Photography

Then yesterday I attempted jumping again. Thanks to having to move every single standard and pole in the arena, I was wiped by the time I had a course set up, and was feeling a bit weary thinking about riding. But once saddled up, I was glad I did and felt a bit more at home in the shorter stirrups than our last school. It took forever again to get him in front of my leg, and really I could only do about 5 minutes at a time before pulling up to catch my breath. I had an angled two stride line set up again, an X, a 2’6″ oxer, and I fixed the triple combination so that the distances were reasonable (2’6″ and 3′). After getting laziness again and again over the 2’3″ fences, I decided to pop him over the 3′ fence at the end of the triple line.

Probably what I've reverted to...

Probably what I’ve reverted to… except slower / PC: Hight Time Photography

Verdict? My horse only wakes up over bigger fences. When the 3′ rode well I then did the whole line and rolled back to the 2’3″ oxer, which ended up riding bigger than the 3′ vertical. This may or may not be because we found a long spot, and I grabbed for dear life with my legs which could have surprised the poor pony into a huge effort. In sum, still a whole hell of a lot for us to work on before we get back to Training sized courses.

This week is somewhat miserable in part to higher temps and humidity, but there is an end in sight! We have our [hopefully final] scoping for ulcers on Thursday!

Dressage Lesson Recap: Renvers and Lengthenings

You know when you have one of those days when it seems like the people around you are simply determined to make your life just a little bit more difficult? Yeah, I had one of those days last week, and of course it fell on the evening of a lesson.

Sit, stay.

Sit, stay.

Without going into a rant again (because a couple people have already heard it), Foster twisted a shoe when someone spun out on the gravel just behind him, and he skidded in the cross ties. Awesome. Then we shared the arena with another lesson that was supposed to be long gone, and spent the majority of my lesson distracted, either in fear that we were going to be mowed over or that the other rider would fall off *again*.

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Still, we were able to do some work nonetheless. Here’s my quick bullet list of personal reminders/exercises we worked on…

  • Renvers (haunches out), weight in the direction of the bend, shoulder in the renvers transition
  • Shoulder-fore in test to keep him straight (especially going right)
  • Haunches-in/haunches out at canter, releasing on the reins to keep suppleness
  • Equitate: Hold my hands closed so I can get a proper feel on his mouth (I am *so* bad about this!)
  • Thinking piaffe in walk transition/don’t let him run away with front-end
  • Rebalancing (sitting him back) for every transition
  • Lengthening- focus on quality of start and finish

Since the twisted-shoe fiasco, unfortunately the farrier has not been able to come see us until today. Thankfully Foster is sound on it, and we’ve been doing some flat work with a lot of success. The dip in temperature has definitely improved his workouts, and he’s been feeling much more forward without being fresh.

Tonight we’ve got a jumping lesson, and it will be our first time jumping since the show- not ideal, but of course life and shoe issues get in the way!

A show recap: Carolina Horse Park

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Well, if we were searching for redemption, we found it… and then lost it. Lost it in a way I will share in a moment, and in a way I can sum up in one quote:

“The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused.”

But let’s start at the beginning- thanks to Ali, Foster was able to get to the show grounds the day before and we had quite a nice schooling in the dressage arena, although I noticed he was getting a bit tense in his neck and starting to go crooked again. During dressage the next day I continued to feel this, but got on with it, since you can’t fix everything in one day. We put in a decent test, with some tension and crookedness but otherwise pleasant enough. I was a bit disappointed that we broke in our free walk (normally a solid 8) but happy that we received a 7 on our right lead canter depart and circle, which has been our pain point in the past couple tests. After discussing with a few equine people much smarter than myself, I am going to get his left hock injected again and hope that solves the crookedness issues that are starting to creep back into our work.

Right lead canter yay!

Right lead canter yay!

In show jumping I did my best to go in with a get-er’-done approach to the first fence, which he went over quite confidently and then move on with the rest of the course. While he almost jumped me out of the tack over fence 3, he put in a nice round and I am oh-so-proud of my spotted pony. I thought the energy was much better than our last show, and was surprised to hear that we received 19 time penalties. For this level, I thought a forward canter should suffice, barring a few trot strides to allow for simple changes. The time penalty issue seemed to be prevalent for many of the competitors though, so I don’t count it as a loss.

Whee! Foster thinks he's ready for 2'11" fences!

Whee! Foster thinks he’s ready for 2’11” fences!

Cross country is where things fell apart a bit. Foster was a total star and went over the first fence quite happily, and I had the most fun on cross country that I have had in a long time, cantering all the fences without hesitation. Maybe I was having a bit too much fun even, because when I landed from fence 9 I started looking for 10 and didn’t see it where I thought it would be! In the 30ish seconds that followed, I brought him back to a walk, and then a trot, wandering around looking for what I thought would be an obvious obstacle in the middle of the woods- it was bright orange for Pete’s sake! In any case, I laughed it off when I spotted it, hopped over it and carried on our merry way! Just a minor pilot error, and one that I will be laughing about for a long time!

(and no, I couldn’t hear her tell me to turn right! oops!)

So while we didn’t finish where we wanted to (a whopping 40+ time penalties will do that I guess!) I am so pleased that Foster put in nice jumping rounds and did his best. I desperately needed a positive experience after being so bummed about the last show, and this competition was just that. Still more to work on, I know, but nonetheless proud of my boy for redeeming himself and not being phased by his passenger’s nonsense from time to time!

On a more serious note, I have several family members who could do with prayers and positive thoughts sent their way. As great as horses are, our loved ones come first! So if you are reading this and have a moment, please send a quick prayer our way. Thanks for your support!

Jumping new fences

Some of the ladies out at the farm got together over my beach weekend and repainted fences, and boy do they look classy! Since this has been kind of a down horsey week, Ali and I tried our boys over them for some fun.

I’m noticing that if I’ve got him together I’m starting to get better with my shoulders, but man I have GOT to fix my lower leg! Nonetheless a tired Foster was a good boy over everything.

Check out my buddy Ali and her handsome OTTB Baron here!