Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Halloween!

We had a GREAT time at the show! My trainer thinks we'll be ready for our first official XC and Combined Trial outing in the spring.


Slowest wins race. He may have lost, but we had some gorgeous shoulder ins!

Just Chilling. Helmet Hair.

Barrel time!

He just kept wanting to canter, and canter and canter...

Heading for the finish line!

Eye (Egg) and Spoon

Eye and Spoon: Engaging Trot
No coffee for you!

What a handsome man!

Turning Difficulties


Tight Turn! Pole Bending!

Musical "Stalls"
We Won!

Candy Grab... He wanted to help
Hey that's MY candy!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Enjoying the Slow Days

With training goals and personal goals and dreams of showing... sometimes I forget to enjoy slow days with Ashe. I know he appreciates them, and I always dig a little deeper into his personality. It helps us to bond, and heal over the hard training days and mistakes made prior.

Yesterday he was uncharacteristically lazy, even over the jumps. Two days before we had a hard flat lesson with working on raised cavaletti and serpentines. I guess he wasn't out of being stiff/sore yet.

So today, instead of riding despite the gorgeous weather, I set him up with a pile of hay, and took to grooming every inch of him. As it's chilly, I couldn't bathe him despite the accumulation of dust/dirt he seems to always have on him (I should rename him Pigpen!). So I went with a new technique I had read: The Wet Towel/Brush Method.

Now I know the wet towel method. I use it in the winter to keep the deep urine stains from setting too deeply onto him, but we don't have hot water at the barn, and I didn't decide to do a deep groom until I had gotten there.

What this does, is you wet the towel (bonus if you get hot water, it helps keep things clean) and you brush the horse, then the towel, then the horse.... you get the picture. It keeps the brush clean and in turn dampens the brush to encourage the dirt to cling to it. He was near glossy by the time I was done. I did the same with his tail, and then went to town with his nicks he has from rolling on hard ground (Again, Pigpen anyone??)

Then, to top it off, we went on a long meandering trail walk together in halter. He grazed for a bit here and there, and then all of a sudden started pushing his nose through the tall grass where we walked. At first I was confused and then I realized he was purposely getting the grasshoppers to jump.

I knew they had fascinated him from when we'd ride outside before, his head at his knees jumping overtime they hit him in the face and then he'd put it right back down again. This just had me laughing so hard at the spectacle of him doing it (I wish I had had a camera on me at the time).

By the end we both were relaxed, he was moving much more loosely and we both had a wonderful morning. It reminded me why I love horses, and my boy in general.

So remember to go appreciate your four legged partners and all they do!

Until Next Time. No worries!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Life Rushes By

So I've been negligent in keeping up this log of our progress... Life got hectic for a while with moving, my old car breaking down (and me needing a new one), errors in my student loans causing mass panic in what I owe month to month... Thankfully that all has settled down.

A quick review of the past few months!

1. Clinic:

I realized I never updated from the clinic! Unfortunately we did not get any videos/photos. Ashe trailered well, that's become a regular occurrence which is awesome. When we got there we settled in (He's been to this farm before) and then prepped for our first ride of the day: Dressage.

He and I have never done a Dressage test before, so we went over halting, saluting, etc. On the entry to the dressage portion of the ring (we had it sectioned off with poles) the train went by...

Now, we've been to this farm before. We've experienced the train on numerous occasions. No big deal right?

We spent the majority of the lesson bucking at every request to canter. He was a tight ball of energy, and thankfully I managed to stay on with every buck, hop and strike out that he performed. Some lovely lateral work though!

Eventually he calmed down enough we were able to complete the W/T/C test and it actually looked pretty decent other than the first canter departure and his free walk (which he never drops his head for).

After that we had a "trail obstacles" lesson for the group which he was PERFECT for. Even the new stuff he was very much BTDT.

Jumping was the second day and he was a wonder pony! I really wish that someone had caught our final course on video, it was the best thing ever and we jumped 2'9! So yeah, prefect end :)

2. Tying/Hosing/Clipping

We're slowly progressing in each of these areas :) Recently he allowed himself to be tied while I washed his tail outside. Additionally, I turned on the clippers and he didn't flinch or run away while I ran them around his body. We're still not letting them near his head, but slowly does it. Major win for everyone! Very proud of how far he has come with all these areas!

3. Riding

We're working on the usual: bending, listen to direction over jumps rather than just assuming we're going a certain way, keeping the shoulder up, etc. Thinking of having a few training rides for him to teach him contact while I'm learning it on my trainer's lesson horses.

That's... about it! Hopefully I will continue to update progress more frequently now that life has settled a bit. Halloween show is coming up and while I don't think we'll be doing a costume this year, I'm hoping for some fresh photographs and videos!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Baths, Clinics and Exercises Oh My!

So next weekend we have our first clinic! Our first OVERNIGHT two day clinic at my trainers. We'll be doing dressage and show jumping work. Two rides on Saturday and one on Sunday. So we're prepping and I'm taking notes of what we need to work on and things to ask.

We had our first big bath of the season. He's still panicky but we're getting better, much quicker to come back and much higher toleration of his fear of the hose. It still needs a lot of work but we're getting there.

I think his hind is permanently stained sometimes!
We're slowly getting back into shape, he jumped 2'3 red vertical from a really tight turn (he hesitated but went over) so I'm happy about that as it's approximately where we left off last year with his ability to turn.

We've come a long way with laterals and turning on the hind. He still pitches a fit on occasion, and doesn't entirely trust when we are near walls or barrels, but he doesn't run off when I reach down his shoulder anymore so progress there.

He still doesn't quite pick up right lead canter on cue if we're not in the ring. I'm still working out if it's based on his confusing of my aids, or if he just super prefers his left lead and is being obstinate. Something to work on at the clinic I think.

Beyond that we're just working on rhythm, response to aids and turning.

He still at times really want to take over for me, so we're working on a balance of "Okay I'm in charge.... okay now you make decisions (such as getting us over fences, etc)". It's a matter of building more trust with him I think. He's an extremely guarded horse, and it's taken two years to get this far, but we've come a really really long way.  I've become an active rider and he's learning to trust his rider.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Location Location Location

So it's been a busy time for Ashe and I with the summer season coming upon us!

We've had two big steps forward!

The first:

I've not only managed to get his mane roached on my own accord, he even let me run the mini clippers up his neck to fix it up. Granted the initial cutting was with scissors, but the fact that he stood there while I buzzed up and down the sides and the top to even it out is a HUGE step forward. I'm almost ready to invest in a good pair of clippers to do his legs and mane from now on!

Still a bit rough but looking handsome!

The second:

You all know his fear of hoses. And the fact that we'll get some progress in and then suddenly he's pulling back and running away and generally making my life difficult and very wet.

Well after talking to his previous owner I found out that her lesson students would just cross tie him in the wash stall and hose him down despite his issues, I decided to give it a go. I'm not a huge fan of the new inside wash stall's location, just off the riding ring, but I figured it'd be worth a try.

Stinker Ashe stood there (eye's big as saucers) the entire time I hosed him down and not once did he bolt, spin around, etc. He also was not cross-tied because I was a bit nervous that he'd slip and fall if he panicked while tied. I'm going to try bathing him next in that area and I'll just have to make sure he's pretty dried off before heading into the ring sand.

Maybe I can use this as a baby step to getting him okay with bathing outside. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rolling It on Back

Riding lesson this past Friday was interesting. We have been working on flexibility and ease of turning, particularly at the canter.
My trainer decided to introduce rollbacks. The jumping kind. The kind where you go over a jump and two strides out turn towards the wall and change direction. Everything help you if you land on the wrong lead and your horse is stubborn that we go “THAT WAY”… 
We started out with cross rails, but Ashe barely put any effort into them. They were more for me to get the feel of what I should be doing and to introduce him to the fact that “No, we are not turning away from the wall but into it”. After a bit we bumped it up to a good 2’ vertical and added cantering… 
Getting him on his right lead canter is difficult enough, now you’re adding in jumping (butt weight in direction of turn) and then in two strides later  (Look, Sit up, lift inside shoulder, lift and half halt inside hand, put on outside leg/knee) turning him sharply to the outside (encouraging him to lift with his back end to turn) all while making sure we’re changing leads. This boy has yet to do any sort of flying lead change on cue as well (He generally does them over jumps himself, but we have not attempted this yet on the flat). 
Half the time he lead changed perfectly, half the time he did the front, but not the back. However  we really got the pattern down (Him even turning in the right direction when I got my rights/lefts confused) focusing on right canter lead to left turn. My timing needs work, I’m still holding two point a little too long after the jump which affects how well he can bring himself back and under to turn. It also helped me to feel where my seat bone weight is and that should help us with cueing the canter as well J
He was a real trooper though! She gave me some specs to practice on my own. I hope to have a video clip of us doing this soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Finding the Right Saddle

Before the winter hit, a barn mate brought out a saddle fitter for her new horse (A very broad backed Canadian breed). I was intrigued, because I knew the Wintec still didn’t fit right for either of us, and was hoping she’d might be able to help us out, without going the route of a custom saddle. While Terry does do custom Schleese, she was more than willing to work with Ashe and I.

Ashe made me so proud! He stood like a pro without being tied the entire time she was measuring and adjusting the tools on his back and around his belly. It wasn’t too long ago that he had bolted from a cloth measuring tape when I attempted to measure him for a blanket.
Such a handsome boy!
In the end she told me what I had thought, but hoped was wrong. The saddle didn’t fit, it was too long in the tree (he has a small saddle bearing area) and too tight for all around wither clearance. Apparently it’s not enough just to have 3 fingers between the top of wither to the gullet, but also enough clearance (3-4 fingers) on the side AND wide enough so it wasn't pushing on his spine. Along with this, the angle of the gullet needs to match the shoulders to allow for freedom of movement.
I was given a task: Finding a saddle with a short tree, for wide backed low wither horse with the right angle. The only saddle she could think to recommend for me to try was Thorowgood. Well I couldn’t buy a brand new saddle with my wintec sitting in my tack trunk so I took it to be sold (along with other tack that just ended up not fitting him. Seriously, this horse needs cob cheek pieces and an oversize browband…). Over the winter we worked on our ground work and laterals while I searched.
After asking on COTH, I contacted Hastilow and we found a “semi-warm” (aka about 28 degrees) day to test ride a saddle or two. They almost didn’t have anything for me, but at the last minute found what is now, my lovely new to me saddle J It’s a cob tree Thorowgood T8 jumping saddle in a 17inch seat. The flaps are short which I adore (I will always get short flaps now if I can! Yay for short inseams!) and my leg falls into the right spot effortlessly. Some new padding and an extra medium tree… and we were raring to go!

Look at all that awesome space!

Small horse, Small Rider, Small Saddle!
The only thing, because my boy has an almost abnormally short back, is that the back panel comes right to the edge of where a saddle should be. So before every right I pound back the fluff so that he has time to warm up before any pressure is put on that last rib. However the difference I have seen (AND FELT) in this saddle with my boy astounds me. He’s more willing to do his laterals, he’s picking up his right lead more easily and, now that I’m balanced, he’s more balanced as well. 
If it wouldn’t be super expensive, I’d get someone to recut and shorten those back panels into a more “upswept” style. However since the saddle is all one piece, that's a bit unfeasible at the moment. But for what we do? It’s perfect. Fingers crossed that it continues to fits him as we muscle up for the summer.
A big thanks to Terry and Fit Right Saddle Solutions! Another to Hastilow Saddlery!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Long time: No write!

Well it's been a while since the last post. Mostly because I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to write about everything that's happened!

Over the winter, our routine settles into exercising once or twice a week. We worked on ground work mostly and we have come a long way!

Long lining, we're not pulling near as much, and he's becoming much more steady at the canter. We've also been working on disengaging the hind, laterals and working from both sides on the ground.

Through all this he has had almost a 180 in attitude towards a lot of things. He's becoming calmer, and braver. We're working on the right side a lot, since that's both our weak sides. Hoping we can school cross country this year!

Along with this, we had a saddle fitter out, sold the wintec and got lucky with a used thorowgood jump saddle WHICH I LOVE. Short flaps, short tree... all around amazing to ride in!

It looks tiny! But he has a small back, and I'm a small rider! That's a 17" seat there!

He was amazing during the fitting, which I will go more into in the next post!

We've also made progress with the clippers, I can run them, while on, across his body. He's very unsure, but he has made progress with that. Hoping to bathe him tomorrow, we'll see what we need to work on with that.

All in All, despite minimum work this past winter coming into the spring, we've come a long way!!