Winter Weather and a mini Dressage Lesson Recap

Winter weather has officially hit North Carolina (and seemingly a lot of other places too), so obviously, pretty much everything that can be closed is closed. And of course the problem with living in a house on a hill is that when said hill ices over, you’re pretty much stuck anyways. So if you want to find me, I’ll be in my sweatpants working from home the next couple days.

The upside to all this is that everytime I look outside I think of this…

 

… and therefore sing all four parts to my husband, complete with cheesy railroad noises. I like to think I’m adorable, but I’m probably just hurting my chances on getting that next blog post out of him. Whatevs snow snow Snow SNOW SNOW!!!

Before the ice storm hit, I was able to squeeze in a dressage lesson and discuss  the feedback from the clinic. Foster had a couple days off after the clinic, then a long stretchy session to work out any kinks, so even though I hadn’t dressaged yet since the clinic, it was still helpful.

clinic canter

Basically the lesson was a repeat of lessons before in that there was a lot of emphasis on transitions within and between gaits, lateral work in the form of shoulder and haunches in, and more work on our lengthenings. Foster’s still figuring these out to some degree, and part of how he is dealing with the added ‘pressure’ of the lengthening is to curl under, so I’m learning how to get his poll up and keep him going, or for now, come back to the walk then try again.

trotlengthening

One of the most aggravating parts of my test was getting that 5.5 on the free walk, and so we worked on getting him to really take the extra stretch without rooting. Part of solving this problem includes my moving my hands towards his mouth (i.e, pushing my elbows to the fence!) so that he has even more ‘place’ to go. So obviously this is a feeling that I need to get the hang of in order to get the most out of my horse! Funny how habits transcend disciplines!

Lazy is as lazy does

Which is to say, not much. After the show, Foster got a whopping 5 days off as a mini vacation for both of us. We returned to work this past Friday, and man oh man, is the pony ever lazy. 4 rides later, and he is still not going anywhere fast.

photo (6)

Two possible theories on why he developed a case of the slows:

1) The weather has been changing from the 80s to the 60s and pony doesn’t like it
2) Pony decided to start a winter coat during his vacation and is hot (but why isn’t he sweating more?)

In any case, I’m hoping Foster gets back to his less-than-lazy self, and give me and my poor calves a break. I do not enjoy pony-club-kicking, and I’m too old for that.

To help things along, I’ll be giving him a Bib clip sometime in the next week. Our next show is two weeks away, and if the past is any indicator, then that weekend it will decide to be 10 degrees warmer than usual, and I want to be prepared. Then depending on what the weather looks like in November, pony will probably get a body clip and I’ll decide whether or not to shave his legs off at that time.

Foster's first clip

Foster’s first clip

Bring on the clippers!

Finally jumping again

photo 1

This weekend was unusually beautiful (aside: do you like how every post these days starts out by describing the weather?), so of course I spent as much time as possible out at the barn. On the flat we are still mostly stretching, and working up to a training level frame to get his conditioning back. Once we is warmed up we have had some really nice trot work, and I’m hoping this will carry through to the canter once he gains more fitness. I’m also working on getting his weight up a bit to help with the muscle building process, so he is getting alfalfa mush and just started on a Cocosoya supplement as well. This is the first time I have tried the latter (previously I have gone with Cool Calories, but I liked that description for the Cocosoya), so if anyone has feedback I’d love to hear it!

Rabid green foamy pony monster wants more alfalfa cubes!

Rabid green foamy pony monster wants more alfalfa cubes!

Yesterday we jumped for the first time in ages, and had oh so much fun. He was a little behind my leg (understandably), especially over the cross rails and smaller fences. There were a couple fences set up at 2’9″ and 2’11”-3′ and once he went over those he pepped up quite a bit. After doing a small course, we were talked into trying our hand at the gymnastic that was set up – a crossrail/crossrail bounce, one stride to a vertical, one stride to a 2’9″ish oxer. At first we took out the vertical, as Foster (and maybe even myself) has never done a bounce before and didn’t want to over complicate it. I had visions of him stumbling through (especially after our raised pole confusion a while back), but I was shocked to see how easily he picked up it up, even the first time. We ended up added the vertical back in, and he popped through the whole thing easy-breezy.

Doing this really reminded me how helpful gymnastics can be- I tend to be intimidated by them because I haven’t been really exposed to them, and I worry about not setting them up right and creating a disaster. Luckily, this one was set up by a fellow boarder for her coming-Prelim horse, so I knew she would have the distances right. Going through this exercise really helped us find our spots (the couple single fences I jumped afterwards were so much nicer as a result!), and I could really work on my position over the fence. Will have to start setting up more of these in the future!

Anyways, outside of the barn, life continues to be a little bit of a struggle. My poor father-in-law is still in the hospital, although moved out of the ICU there is no news of his leaving anytime soon. Elliot has a UTI, which is probably caused by stress/separation anxiety and we are now plugging in a Feliway and he is sporting a fancy purple pheromone collar to help him be chill kitty instead of clingy kitty. Here’s hoping that works!

Elliot aka Snaggletooth and his new pretty purple collar

Elliot aka Snaggletooth and his new pretty purple collar

This week looks to be a crazy-fest, with more snow/slush/wintry mix crap coming, traveling to Pittsburgh, a wedding, and a cross country schooling lesson this weekend! More updates to come!