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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New horse, Injuries and show season!!

It has been a few months and there have been lots of changes!  A few months ago I added to my little herd with a yearling Half Andalusian filly!!  She is a sweetheart!!  She was sick when she got here, ended up with a bit of a cold and cough and it was pretty bad!  We had to get the vet out to give her some antibiotics!  But she is looking pretty amazing from when she first arrived here!

Also in that same week, Mister ran through the fence-slicing open his leg pretty bad!  It was pretty devastating!  Daily cold hosing in the first week and putting bag balm on his leg helped wonders! Then we went to every second day and then a couple times a week, and eventually we just left it.   Within a few days  he was running around his pen like a crazy man and we were worried he was going to run through the fence again! So I was told after a week to get on him and give him a light ride.  I was soooo happy to be in the saddle!  Mister didn’t actually even have any lame days besides the 2 days that I injured him when we over did it! Live and learn.  We just did a few too many circles and corners-he was just going so well I pushed him a little bit too much-a few days off and he was good as gold bucking and running around his pen!

The time off has given us a chance to slow down a bit and transition from training to show season.  We missed our first show although we could have gone in it-we were ready, but because I hadn’t thought we were going to be in it I had scheduled the farrier for one of the days of the show and couldn’t change it.  The slow down has also given me a chance to work with the new girl!  She is sweet and sassy!  She has been alot of fun and I am super excited about our future!  We are going to our first show in August-the Andalusian Nationals!  Mister’s and my first show is in 2 weeks!  Super excited-he looks amazing and this is the most ready we have ever been for a show!  Here’s a few pics of the new girl-Cierra, from the first few days and weeks I had her!

Extensions and Collections and breaks

Sometimes you push just a little bit too much!  Monday I practiced our collections and extensions and I pushed them out and collected him up!  We were really flying!!  It was pretty amazing!  The feeling of getting him going then collecting him up like that was awesome!  I definitely love it!  Though it’s a lot of work!!  Just need to get myself in better shape now!

He is growing up!  Our lunge sessions feel less like a battle then they used to and more like they are supposed to-time to gauge our mood and get him focussed on me and listening to me.  He was great!  Then our ride was really good but I pushed too much and I was super sore the next day, couldn’t keep my thighs on the saddle so it was thump, thump, thumping along and the rest of legs-behind my knees and my hamstrings were super sore!!  So we had a nice quiet ride!  Those rides are nice too!  The next day I was still sore so instead of riding we just did some visiting and showmanship and Mister was sooooo content to just hang out, no silliness just calm contentment and peace!!  I gave him a couple days off well actually I needed them!  But I was going to camp for a couple days so it was a forced couple days off!  But sometimes we need those too!  I ended up coming back early so I rode on Saturday and Mister was pretty good but was a bit bossy to one of the other horses and made of the girls a bit nervous!  I had him under control though so it wasn’t a huge issue but it made for some difficult passing!  Then I went out Sunday too with one of my friends and aside from a few little things it was a really great day!  We worked on some passing which was still a bit of an issue but wasn’t as bad as the day before.  Our transitions are getting better but our canter is super slow!  We need to speed it up! This week I will work on that!

I also rode by myself yesterday which was a huge self esteem boost since it’s been awhile since I rode on my own.  Also it means that if I get a day time job I know I can totally handle riding a few days a week on my own so I’ve put that out there.    The future is looking pretty bright!

 

 

 

 

Getting over fear and abscesses!

Earlier this week Mister had his farrier appointment and it was discovered that he did have an abscess in November.  The whole bottom of his hoof was soft from it and the farrier said he could only remove a bit at a time so that he still has some foot on the bottom.  We thought that maybe the abscess blew out the bottom of his foot because we couldn’t find any other exit spot.   He said that if that’s the case it would only take a couple of trims and shoeing to get it all healed up.  He said if it was higher up in the hoof it could take a  up to a year since the whole hoof has to grow out. Which would mean shoes since his foot would need the stability.   Later when we were looking at his hoof more closely on the top inside of his hoof we found a tiny little puncture.  Now we know where it came out of.  It’s a good thing we were planning on keeping him in shoes anyways because now we have to, at least on the fronts though we do have 4 shoes on him right now.  Thankfully he is sound and it’s just a matter of keeping that puncture free of infection so everyday I ride Mister gets a few treatments, one to harden up his hoof underneath and the other to keep out any infection.  He’s been pretty good about it. I’m thankful it was an abscess and it wasn’t any injury.  We were pretty sure it was an abscess though but it was nice to have it confirmed.

It’s warmed up this week so the snow has been crackling and moving on the roof lots!  It has really unnerved Mister.  He just won’t settle down and relax!  Wednesday he was ok but Thursday he was a mess!  He walked in really nicely and lunged really nicely, I even taught him a new phrase when lunging-wrong way when he didn’t listen to my cues to change direction!  But when riding he was just out of sorts, spooking at a board in the far end of the arena that’s been there for years!!! It turns out that normally we start our ride going the other direction so that may have been a factor, however he just wouldn’t let it go!  I tried everything to distract him from it and get his attention back on me and to relax, but while he did stop spooking he didn’t relax the whole ride.  Friday we didn’t ride because the snow was coming off the roof in a huge slide and was crackling and groaning the whole morning finally giving away in the afternoon.  Saturday was a better ride, we were pretty tense in the beginning, his spooking has been scaring me a bit lately which is a bad cycle to get into since me being tense makes him more tense which makes me more tense etc…. However we worked through it when his spooks at the little bits of snow that were left became smaller and smaller.  We ended our ride much much more relaxed, got some nice trotting in and some cantering and just some nice relaxation!  I really do need to be more brave for Mister!

Next week will be a good week.  No more snow coming off the roof to get us all twisted up!  It’s supposed to stay warm so that’s good too!  Maybe I’ll start off my ride going the direction Mister doesn’t like since he needs to get over that!

 

Learning to Fly!

 

So it has been a good start to the new year.  Mister is another year older and seems to be pretty content.  We are going full steam ahead.  I had a few lightbulb moments and it’s only the 3rd week of January and we’ve had some cold days so no riding and last week I was sick .  It was funny-Mister knew before I did.   He was so off, I felt fine so I didn’t think it was me (It turns out it was me! ). He was just unsettled and antsy and wouldn’t relax but didn’t want to move either.  I chalked it up to his fear of the snow coming off the roof and even though I didn’t hear anything thought maybe he could hear it cracking and shifting. So I called it a day and decided  I’d come out earlier tomorrow so we don’t have to worry about the snow and the roof.  It’s been the one fear he has not been able to get over since he was a baby.   I got to work and was extremely exhausted but didn’t think anything of it since I didn’t feel bad in any other way, just full body exhaustion.  The next morning I got up and was very sick, cancelled riding and didn’t go to work.  When I did finally go out Mister was super sucky which he is only like when I’m sad or sick! So we just hung out with no expectations.  It was nice.  Today we were back to work.

I’ve been pushing for extensions and collections and I’m finally starting to get them.  My lightbulb moment was when I was talking to my mom over Christmas and she was asking how they get that nice beautiful trot in dressage and I said it’s when you tell your horse to go forward with your leg but keep them held back with the reins and then the energy builds and you get that nice airy trot!  Intellectually I know how to do it, it’s just getting my arms and legs to both act!  I’m starting to get it, it’ll take some time!

I also have figured out the spiral in/out exercise that I’ve had a hard time with and now know why I need to know how to do it! That was my second lightbulb moment over the last few weeks!  I love that they’re flickering now!!  I’m also super excited to show again and see what my scores are going to be like this year!  I’m aiming for high 60’s in training level and then I’ll go on to First Level.  I’m thinking the first show I’ll be in Training Level but the rest of the summer I’ll be showing at First Level.  I am definitely loving this dressage journey so far. I am feeling more and more competitive-not against anyone just that I want to keep improving and pushing my scores!

I’m also working on the serpentine though I’m having problems getting that one.  So that will be our next one to conquer. Until next time.  I’m hoping to keep this updated once a week.

 

 

 

Birthday Photoshoot!

A few pics of our little photoshoot we had yesterday for my 40th birthday!  We rode a bit before we had pics which was good because Mister is not the most patient horse and doesn’t always enjoy standing around for pictures!  I thought he was not very well behaved and was too fidgety but the pictures really turned out nicely!

We had a really good week of riding-we really pushed ourselves this week and it seems we have upped our game and now we have a higher level to attain!  We were working on circles which we nailed and most of transitions we did really well!  We worked on our walk to canter transitions and we actually got them mostly!  And I felt his engine going and thought it was the wrong lead but my trainer was saying it was good let him go, and that is what happens so often is that I pull him down too often instead of just letting him go!  So after that I was able to feel it and just let him go!  It was awesome!

Also I have started to do some ab work at home to improve my strength, so I can be a better rider and be softer in the saddle! I am starting my third week and I think I am seeing some results in the saddle though have also found I’m getting tired quicker but am feeling my abs while I ride. So I think it’s working!

 

Below is my favourite pic of the day!  He is so photogenic-even in his winter woolies!

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From lame to super spunky!

Well my Mister Magoo has come through with shining colours! We had him on stall rest for close to a week, soaked his foot for about 4 days a couple times a day!  And the more we did it the better he became!  It was so nice seeing him relax with his foot in the tub instead of thinking it was going to kill him!  And he started to relax about being stalled as well.  His buddy Chevy was in with him for a few days but when it was less muddy and his pen was ready Chevy went back out.  Unfortunately the abscess didn’t blow out but he got better so we aren’t sure if had an abscess or an injury!  However after a few days of stall rest he stopped eating much so we had to get him working again. 

So we started slowly riding him again and lunging but only walk and trot and keeping it easy and he started eating again and perking back up!  It was so nice to see! Though he still was pretty quiet and mellow and seemed very cautious! Whatever he did to himself he scared himself,  whether it was because it really hurt when he did it or if it was an abscess he was just remembering how much his foot had hurt!  Not quite sure!

On Saturday, a week after being stalled, he got his first taste of freedom!  I thought he was going to go crazy!  I thought he was going to tear off and run around his pen bucking and running. But he didn’t.  He just stood there and calmly walked around after I left.  It was weird! He used to run around when he’d hear the four wheeler at breakfast and dinner.  Now he just tosses his head a bunch and looks like he wants to tear around but he doesn’t.  It will be interesting to see if he stays like that or goes back to his overly exuberant ways! 

On Monday,  I lunged him and rode him and he was feeling better though still seemed cautious even when riding.  Every so often he felt rough but for the most part he was feeling better and better and we had a hang out day.  He was being very sucky!  It was nice to just hang out with him!  There was a wind storm and he didn’t care! 

Tuesday was a different story!  It started out great!  I brought him in and he was good and mellow and because I rode him the day before I just got on without lunging! He was pretty good and he felt great!  It finally felt like we had rhythm again! His trot was so nice!  We were focused on the trot and weren’t paying attention to what was going on around us and a vehicle drove up on the crunchy snow and spooked him and he bucked a couple times! I sat the first one but came unglued by the second and knew I was bailing and then I wound up on my back in the dirt staring at Misters nose with the reins still in my hand!  Well that was Mister saying stop babying me I’m fine!  So we are back to lunging before riding!  After getting over a sore shoulder I came down with a bad cold so this week we haven’t had much luck either! Next week will be better! 

It has been a long month!  December will be a great month!  No more injuries, no more sick! And then we can get back into training! The break was good but we are definitely raring to go! 

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Success!!

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Stalled selfie! Mister is like get that camera out of here! 

Lame, lame, lame

Three legged lame. So tough to watch your horse be in so much pain that he can’t even put all his weight on all 4 legs.  Mister has had a rough go for the past month, well maybe 3 weeks. It’s been rainy and gross and muddy and he’s been spending more time inside which has made him miserable.  We had to put him back outside because he was just cranky and angry-pinning his ears at everyone when they would even just walk passed his stall, kicking his stall and turning it into a mess with his incessant pacing.  I thought my bad attitude was to blame but then we remembered that he has been on grain and this is the first time he’s been inside for any length of time besides just being tacked up since he’s been on it, so now he can’t burn off the excess energy.

I was coming out and riding and lunging him but then he seemed to be a bit lame-nothing too noticeable but just enough that he was off.  We threw him back outside, gave him a bit of a break and in the meantime he also got his feet done, so we gave him a few days off.  He was running around being his usual dorky self so we brought him in and I lunged him cause he was crazy!  I walked him in and he was rearing on the way in and was very frisky!  But he still seemed a bit lame. We wanted to make sure he didn’t get too crazy and hurt himself!  So I just walked him around and did a bit of trotting.  He seemed off but not 3 legged lame!

So the next day I brought him out again and saddled him up-just walked and he seemed off-some head bob at the walk but it seemed to get better the more we walked so we tried the trot.  That was awful-I was almost in tears because it was so awful and to think I was causing that pain.  I got off and checked his foot and cleaned it out.  His feet actually look really nice, the last trim and shoes were good.  We put front shoes on so that we can save his hooves over the winter and had a couple spikes put in them so that he has some more grip.

Saturday I brought out some epsom salts and we attempted to soak his foot.  That was an adventure and a half.   Mister has decided that buckets and tubs and water are monsters that are trying to eat him!  He was terrified!!!  It took my riding instructor over half an hour of getting him to put his foot in an empty tub and then we had to add water cup by cup! Today it took me 1.5 hours and getting some help but we got his foot in the tub with water and had him stand in it for about 10 minutes.  Tomorrow we will have to do it a couple of times a day and the next day and the next until it finally bursts.  Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

These creatures sure have a way of challenging us when we need it the most.  I’m hoping tomorrow goes well and that I can get him to stand in some salt water!  I hate seeing him so miserable.  Soon we will be dancing again!  But for now we will enjoy some down time and I’ll ride the blonde surfer dude.