Chill and mellow horses and a big happy birthday to my Mister Magoo!

Everyone wants a mellow horse but neither of my horses are super mellow!  Unless something is not quite right, sometimes it’s because I’m in a super mellow mood but sometimes it’s because something is off with them!  Especially since the spring usually means he’s a bit friskier and happier!  I rode him on Sunday and we cantered with other horses in the arena and not just other horses that were in the arena walking and trotting, we cantered with other horses also cantering!! And I didn’t feel nervous!  So yay us! Then Monday he had his shoes put on and he was super well behaved for the farrier.  Normally he is a bit impatient and can pull his feet away or shifts his weight, nothing really bad just annoying and his farrier gets mad.  But last Monday he was picture perfect!  I gave him a few days to get used to his feet again, he doesn’t do well with change!  He does do better going no shoes to shoes than he does going from shoes to no shoes though, so hopefully this time around will be less painful for him!  I rode him for a bit on Thursday and then Friday we had an awesome ride! His lope was sooo slow!  I gave him Saturday off and he was just sprawled right out in his pen.  Did not miss me at all.  That was ok I worked with my little girl and she too was super mellow, which for her has been weird as well since she’s usually quite spunky! Both of them are usually spunkier!!  A week of mellow is not normal for my brat!  My little girl is probably growing as that’s usually when we she is so chill!  So she will get a break again for abit to grow again!  As for my big guy, his feet are probably bugging him.  Tomorrow I will bring out his boots and see if that helps him.  We noticed that today he was kind of paddling to keep his front legs away from his back legs and we are pretty sure that was why he was so slow on Friday!  I don’t want him to be that slow if it’s because he is hitting himself or is worried that he’s hitting himself. I do remember now why I had bought the boots for him last year as he was doing it last year! And I will remember for the future that he needs boots for the first bit of having shoes on until he can figure out his new stride and how not to hit himself! I hope he figures it out soon so he can stop hitting himself!

Also today was Mister’s birthday!  He is 9 today!  I got a super cute picture done last week.  My riding instructor was also the one that bred Mister and gave me a picture of him at a day old with her and daughter so last week we took a picture of her daughter and Mister 9 years later!  It is so cute!  We said we will have to do another one of the two of them when she graduates high school!  Aren’t they cute!!  Until next time!!

 

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Slowing down

So the last few weeks we have been slowing things down with Mister, he has seemed to really enjoy it.  We thought it would take a while to bring back the lope but it seems it is coming back a lot of quicker than we thought.  And his jog, that horse loves to jog! We even got a compliment that our lope after only a few weeks is good enough to compete in open shows!  We are still going to do dressage, we are just going to do it all!  Dressage, western dressage, western pleasure, hunter under saddle and some trail!  Quarter horses really can do it all!!  We are back to doing lots of dressage exercises again and he seems to be liking the slowed down versions.

Next week we are trying the dressage saddle again.  It will be nice to be back in it!  We have our first show in April so we are going to have to start getting ready for that!

The weather is warming up this week so I’m excited about getting some good riding in!  We rode this week but it was so cold that we didn’t push anything.  I was asked to canter and while we did the wind made it too cold to do it for too long.  So this week it will be nicer and we will practice everything!  So until next week, happy riding!

 

 

Changing gears

Mister and I are going back to our roots, at least temporarily.  As much as I love dressage, Mister and I need a break.   And probably just in some training.  Mister has always loved to jog and even though we have pushed his trot out he has always retained his jog which we both love. So last week we decided to change things up. I want to ride a few western pleasure classes this year as well so for the next few months we are going to slow things down, work on his jog and lope transitions and in general take a breath. Already Mister and I seemed to have relaxed. Maybe it’s just me! All I know is that when I speed up I get more stressed out whether it’s at work or riding, when I pick up the pace I get tense, which in turn makes Mister tense. Last show season I worked on keeping myself calm which worked but it lacked shine and pizzazz.  I am open to seeing where we go.  I think we will come back to it and just go back and forth between dressage and western pleasure and will definitely keep doing western dressage. We worked on his lope and I thought it was going to take awhile since we have been working on pushing him out and speeding him up but we are getting it already!!

Our biggest problem which has followed us around for years is that he doesn’t stay in whatever gait I put him in, he will stop and I’ll have to get him going again.  I want to be able to cue him and then leave him alone until I ask for the next cue!  In the jog he’s pretty good but canter/lope he’s a bit of a quitter!  But we are working on it!  I’ve let him do it for years so now we are working on it. It’s just a matter of consistency.  I’ve always let him get away with because there was something else we were working on.  But now it’s time to get this nipped in the bud.  There’s always something to focus on and learn and that’s one of the joys of riding and working with horses-you will never learn  it all and you will always have something new to learn!!

So until  next time!

Learning to fly!

A couple weeks ago we were amazingly able to ride 4 days and get back into our routine!  But it was short lived as winter always seems to get in the way!!  It was a pretty amazing week!   We were working on collections and extensions and really were getting it!  His trot was beautiful and getting the collection and extension seemed easy by the end of the week! We really were flying and then I was able to bring him back nicely and keep the energy flowing and feel the nice beautiful trot that I love watching! It was so nice to be able to ride for 4 days and not have the weather interrupt us!  We were able to get back in our routine and see more progression by the end of the end of week.  Oh well I shouldn’t complain too much as I have friends who haven’t been able to ride much if at all due to the weather!!

The next week I rode with people and pushed my boundaries a bit too much!  Sometimes you really do have to push the edges of your comfort zone.  I’ve been really working on handling unexpected things while I ride, about a month ago I rode with quite a few people riding and a horse lunging, people cutting me off and doing their own thing in the arena and not paying attention.  I handled it really well until someone left the barn and opened the door making a loud sound then Mister decided to buck a few times a quarter way around the ring!  Thankfully I stuck it out!  Mister calmed down then I made him work his butt off!  The next week I rode with one of my friends and Mister was upset and just bounced me around a bunch since he just wanted to hang out and didn’t like that I made him work!  Usually when I ride with lots of people I let us just hang out and don’t push him.  It used to be because I was nervous of other riders, then it became me just wanting to visit and also because by the end of the week I am pretty tired so I don’t usually want to push myself.  But last week I was a bit frazzled so riding with people put me back to being nervous of riding with other people.  I need to trust myself and my horse and not worry about the level of riding other people have.  I know Mister and I can handle whatever comes our way but sometimes I forget and get stuck on the other horses and riders in the arena.  It was a good reminder that I need to focus on myself and my horse-of course you have to pay attention but not in the all encompassing way-just in the way that keeps you out of trouble!   In the showring I can’t be worried about all the other horses and riders, I need to pay attention to us and give us the best possible chance for the best possible ride!

This past week was a good week, though only 2 rides since it got cold again, also because sometimes when you have a really good ride you just want to savour it a bit more-however then it got cold so when I wanted to get that feeling again it was too cold!  My last ride was beautiful!  A floaty, beautiful trot and canter!!  The canter was amazing!  Not only was the canter so nice, his attitude was super lovey-I just wanted to hang out with him all day even though it was chilly and I had to go to work!  We haven’t had that canter in a while so it was just so nice to feel it again!  Hopefully the weather will get warmer again so we can work on that canter and trot again!  It was beautiful!  It’s all such a dance! And I love to dance!

Mistakes happen and out of it confidence emerges!

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about mistakes lately.  Maybe it’s because the year is almost over so in thinking about dreams and goals for the future we also have to think about our mistakes, especially if you want to grow as a rider and push your comfort zone and boundaries.  Also I was thinking about it because my little filly has been doing something the same thing my big guy always does and I know that behaviours that you’re working through travel horse to horse until you deal with them, like spooking or bucking.  This one is an interesting one.  Mister gets mad and bucks after he slips on the lunge line (thankfully if he slips while riding he doesn’t buck!!) . But he does buck under saddle when he gets upset.  I used to get upset when I would make mistakes too.  My rides had to be perfect.  Not sure where this came from, but I would put a lot of pressure on myself.  I have passed this onto my horses it seems as well and I have really noticed my geldings attitude lately hasn’t been his most happiest.  He’s happy when he’s working and doing something he enjoys and knows how to but when I push him out of his comfort zone or when we do something that bores him I get attitude, usually a buck!!  I am also happy when I’m in my comfort zone and understand but if I don’t understand or feel overwhelmed I get upset.   My filly also did that the other day and she hasn’t been around him when he does that so she couldn’t have picked it up from seeing him do it. In the exact same way-she slipped and then gave a big buck right after.  So somehow I’ve already made her feel angry about making mistakes.  I never want them to feel like they can’t make mistakes or they can’t try!   It really upset me the other day when I saw her get upset because she felt she made a mistake.  I love those 2 horses and I want them to be happy!!  It’s crazy how  horses seem to bring out the best and worst in you in order to be a better you!!

So starting now I’m going to let go of the feeling that mistakes = failure and start embracing the try and let’s play and push some boundaries!  Take a little risk and have some fun!  I now understand when my riding instructor told me during the show season to give my test some pizzazz and take some risks.

My last ride really showed this.  I’ve been talking to my riding instructor about wanting to build my confidence which means putting myself in situations that may not turn out well and then showing me that I can actually handle them.  I handled other horses and riders (often I ride with just my riding instructor since I work in the afternoon/evening) being cut off, and people doing their own thing and having to pay attention and guide Mister.  Mister handled it all beautifully and was so content!  Then one of the girls left with her horse and he exploded in a fit of bucks a quarter of the way around the arena!  I saw the ground but thought nope not hitting the dirt today!!  I had the reins pretty draped since he had been so calm earlier and so it really caught me by surprise!  Other horses leaving through the aisle on the side have always made him react (not always a huge bucking fit sometimes it’s just a bit of a sideways spook and other times it’s what it was the other day!)  Usually we stop while the horse goes up the aisle  and wait but it had been awhile since he had that reaction so I hadn’t even thought about it!  At any rate I did not hit the dirt, he stopped, and then we went back to work and had a beautiful ride when I was filled up with a bit of adrenaline!  So another confidence boost!  I can think about the fact that he bucked or that I handled it and we had a really good ride after that!!  I choose to think about that the fact that we handled it and that we have some work for the new year! Oh Mister Magoo you always keep my life interesting and fun!!

Can’t wait for the first ride of the New Year!!

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams and Goals

The off season-if we actually have one as riders-is where dreams are started and goals are made for the next show season-it’s kinda like when your favourite hockey team doesn’t make it to the playoffs and you say “well there’s always next year”.  But instead of it being your favourite team it’s us so we actually get to dream and set goals and plan and do the work that comes with it instead of just hoping your team pulls through.  Some of the work I have had to do was fix my canter cue.  As we go along I’m sure I’ll find more holes but this one has been chasing me a lot lately however we did not know what the problem was.  It didn’t take long but we fixed it and got my other leg to stay put instead of kicking when it needed to be still, also we fixed my weird habit of throwing myself forward as a canter cue.  I think I was just trying to help him but it throws him on the forehand and off balance and now that I’ve fixed it (I mean sometimes I still do it but I’m now aware of it so I stop and fix it and go again.)  And now that it’s fixed it seems I’ve decided to work on the lope instead of the canter as much since Mister loves to go slow!  We have sped him up over the past few years and now we can slow him down and work on the lope and on collection.

We are going to work on spirals and the serpentine and collection as well as keeping on working on extensions and better connection.  Also I’m thinking of doing a Western pleasure class to see if Mister likes it better.  I just want him to be happy.   Sometimes I’m not sure if he likes this whole dressage journey I’m taking him on.  I’d like to be competing at a level one next year.

I am also working on a few things for myself-like my self-confidence and being able to bounce back quicker after a mistake.  Next year will be a more confident and brave me so that I can be more brave for my 2 horses!!

Looking forward to next year and totally rocking it!

 

 

Summer’s done and Training season has started again.

I have had quite a bit of non riding for August as I had lots of holidays that weren’t for horse shows.  I went to Red Deer for the Andalusian Nationals but didn’t bring Cierra because I wanted to check it out first.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and there were so many beautiful horses.  I also went home to see family for close to a week so in August I rode probably 10 times maybe a bit more but not my normal 4 or 5 days a week!

This week has been good we’ve gone back to basics and are filling in gaps that I haven’t ever fixed such as my canter cue-both of my legs feel the need to be on so I’ve been consciously trying to keep my inside leg completely off while I cue with my outside leg.  I realised I’m trying to put too many aids on at once and my poor horse is just so awesome but he’s guessing.  So I’m working on clear cues.  We did some bending and counter bending on the circle and transitions through all the gaits.

Yesterday we were supposed to work on some more but Mister had other ideas!  He decided that we were going to work on me being calm!  He came into the barn and was just a crazy horse-pawing in his stall, dancing and snorting-so I lunged him and he was still wild eyed but seemed calmer so I got on and I could feel him being tense and spooky.  But this time I just relaxed and stayed calm and got him to walk a few rounds and then he seemed to chill out and he had a few relaxed breaths once in awhile.  We worked on transitions and we are getting them better and better.  I’m just glad I was able to be the one to calm him instead of adding to his anxiety.  The fall weather always seems to get them worked up.

My little girl though today was beside herself with anxiety.  I put her in a stall and walked away and she panicked and called and called and called for me but I really don’t want another horse that can’t be in a stall by themselves, so I left her to deal with it.  And when she quieted down I got her but by then she was just so upset with me she couldn’t listen to anything.  So I put her on the lunge line and let her get it out for a few minutes then brought her back and got her to pay attention and she did really well.  She’s a smart little girl!  Then I put the saddle on her for the first time and she did awesome considering she was so upset earlier.  I lunged her and she was a bit upset and bucked but I got her calmed down and the she was totally fine-no more bucking and no bucking the other direction.  She did walk trot and canter both directions.  I will start longlining her soon-probably next week.  I won’t be riding her next year so she will have lots of time to get her used to things.  She is a very insecure horse and looks to me for comfort but it still takes quite awhile to calm down.  The more I work with her and the more attached she gets the easier it will be to calm her down.  It just means I need to be super patient and super calm. I’ve been told it takes 3 years to build a solid partnership with a horse but I think with her it will be a lot less.  She is super sensitive and super smart.   My big guy calms down pretty quickly if I’m calm but we have a pretty solid relationship and have been together for 6 years!

I’m really looking forward to this training season! Lots to work on! Lots of refining my aids and building a deeper bond with both of my monkeys!  Lots of fun things with the little girl who is growing like a weed!  I sure hope she doesn’t get taller than my Mister, but with my luck she will!

Pictured is Cierra at 16 months.  What you can’t see in this picture is all the white hairs that are coming in!  She is speckled from her flanks to her shoulder with white hairs and has a few on her neck and her hips.  Her whole belly is white! And she has a few white hairs in her mane and tail.  My little bay horse isn’t so little and may not stay bay!

 

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First show done!!

Our first show of the season has been a huge success!  We had a great time visiting and hanging out.  It was also the calmest and most relaxed we’d ever been!  I cut out most of my normal coffee drinking which seemed to help!  We went in our first flat class in years and we did really well, we got our canter, just missed the lead  on the one direction.  I was so proud of him and of us!  I don’t know why I had been so stressed out!  Its funny how we put such weird thoughts in our heads and then let them build up!

Thursday we rode in the arena for a nice warmup and our ride was really nice, I had some nerves though which translated into some nerves for Mister but once I got a hold of them Mister settled right down and we did transitions-walk, jog, couple steps of canter, walk, jog couple more steps until we cantered the arena. And ended it nicely. We were supposed to go in a class that night but decided not to as something came up and I thought I’d be back in time but I wasn’t back.

Friday we did our class and did really well even without a warmup.  Saturday was the first of our dressage tests and we had a little bit of a warmup but nothing big and we went in and  did our tests and did really well.  He was pretty tired at the end of the 2 tests!  And so was I!  Sunday I decided no warm up was required since we had worked so much over the weekend so I just tacked him up and got on before our tests!  We were both so tired I didn’t have much energy to get him moving out more and we lost most of our points at our lope circles!  But we did better on our jog’s than we did before and didn’t get any comments about him looking sore!  We also got an 8 on our FXM line!!  Our scores improved with every ride!  So yay us!! It was a pretty awesome weekend and an excellent start to our show season! Super excited about our next show in Quesnel next month! Next one will be 2 Western tests and 2 English ones so I can see if it makes a difference which saddle we are in!

Until next time!
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