Thursday, January 9, 2020

Goals

Last year I didn't set any goals because I wasn't sure what to expect with the new baby.  I tried to figure out how to be more productive with more limited time.  We did not show or trail ride as much last year,  and stayed at Training level but by the end of the year it felt like things were starting to feel pretty good.  We lost some riding time in the summer when Cupid was sore in his back, and figured out Cupid seems happier with pads on his front feet.  We did not do much jumping, but I was brave enough to do a clinic with Nick Karazissis, and jump around at a local show's warm up day.

My goals for 2020:

-Move up to First Level: It's not so much the test itself (1-1 adds lengthenings in the trot and canter, which is not our forte but will be passable with a bit more work; and smaller circles which we can do) just solidifying our connection and roundness.

- Get a 7 on the rider collective score: This is what my trainer has challenged me with!  So far the best I've done is 6.5.

-Try something new: I was signed up for a cattlework clinic last year but unfortunately it was cancelled.  Hopefully it will be rescheduled for a day that works for us, or we will do some sort of trail trial or obstacle clinic or competition!

-More trail riding: I try to go once or twice a month but it hasn't been happening.  Of course right now it's weather dependent.  I'd also like to go to a new place.  And maybe do more trotting?

-TB show: I haven't figured out what my criteria for success is but we have set a date!

Forged in Fire

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New Tack: Passier Marcus Ehning II Anatomical Bridle

I couldn't think of anything I really needed to buy on black Friday, but I felt compelled to get something.  Horrible I know!  Even though we didn't really need a new bridle, I have been thinking of trying one of the newer anatomical designs.  Cupid seems fine in his old ones, but he does sometimes stop to rub his face on his leg and usually after a ride he rubs his head on me.  So I wanted to see if we can avoid some of the nerves on his face whether that would make a difference.  Also the ear cutouts in the Bobby's bridle I primarily use aren't quite in the right place for him. 

I don't use a flash on him, so I needed something with no or a removable flash (I don't really care if there is a loop for it.)  I'm also apparently unusual in not really caring for patent leather, bling, or rolled leather so I was having a hard time finding something I liked! 

The Schockemohle Delta was close, but I wasn't sure about the noseband and bit hangers being on the same cheekpiece.  The Kavalkade Ivy fit my criteria, but I wanted to splurge on something a little nicer.  Finally I came across the Passier Marcus Ehning II. 

The size guide seemed to indicate that it runs a little bit, so I ordered the cob size which turns out to fit Cupid quite well.  It is not buttery soft, but true to its German heritage seems to be a good quality leather that will get better with age.   It came with webbed reins.



I wasn't sure about the curved browband, but I figured that would be simple enough to swap out if I don't like it.  But upon seeing it I think I'll keep it as is.  The noseband is thicker then I'd prefer, but it's alright.  It may just be a coincidence but in the first few rides with it Cupid has not rubbed his head on his legs, and after our rides he is still happy to have me rub his face but hasn't been rubbing his head on me.  Overall I am very happy with this purchase!


Monday, December 30, 2019

Versatility

In the last week Cupid and I went on a trail ride, had a great jumping session, and are back to work preparing for an upcoming dressage show!  He seems to enjoy this variety, and tends to be a little more energetic in the arena the day after a trail ride. 

These cute little butterflies recently appeared in our arena, and I've been looking forward to jumping them!  I was almost tempted to try it in my dressage saddle, but managed to resist the urge. :p  So yesterday I put on my jumping saddle.  After a nice warm up on the flat we picked up a canter and headed towards a small cross rail with some Christmas decorations.  Even though we haven't jumped in over a month Cupid stayed steady and hit it perfect.  We did the crossrail once more, then headed for the butterflies.  I wasn't sure if Cupid would get distracted, not only by the butterflies but I had draped his blanket (to cover him for the walk to the arena since it was raining) over one of the standards but he didn't waver or hesitate.  Which is a good thing because I don't think I was fully committed to keeping him straight and going forward.  But I felt a lot more confident afterwards, and we did a little course with the Christmas jump, to the coop, to the butterflies, and ending with a small square oxer.  We had decent lead changes through the trot, and hit all the jumps from a good distance, I was very happy with how it went!
Butterflies

Oxer and coop

Blurry shot of the Christmas jump
The trail ride was in the park we most frequently ride, Huddart.  The trail was a little slippery in a few spots, but overall it was less muddier then I expected and the creek was barely flowing.  But the trees were covered with a very vibrant green moss which did make the woods feel a bit magical.
Creek crossing

Our first few training rides were a bit rusty, but now we are back working almost where we were in November.  We've been doing a lot of transitions focusing on trying to stay round. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas!

I am back from vacation and Cupid and I are getting back to work.  We've had two light rides so far, and he was very well behaved.  We are going to trail ride tomorrow  if the weather cooperates, and we need to get back on a lesson schedule so we can start preparing for a show next month!

Friday, December 6, 2019

When to Say When

It was always my plan to give Cupid a break at the end of the year.  But when it felt like things were finally starting to click, plus the weather has been pretty reasonable (aside from some recent rain) I was struggling a bit with hitting pause.  I'm going to be gone for a week so the break was always going to coincide with my travel plans, but I was thinking of riding up to then.  We had a few really great lessons, but our last few rides were... just fine.  Cupid did everything I asked but just lacked a little sparkle.  He's also been a little more cuddly then usual, spending lots of time resting his head on me in the stall.  After riding him like that on Wednesday and Thursday, giving him time off now just feels right.  So in the next few weeks (aside from when I'm gone) I'll just be grooming him, handwalking and grazing if the weather's nice, and hopefully getting around to cleaning and conditioning my tack!
I also scheduled a few lessons for myself, so I can learn something new from a different horse and see how some of the things we are working on are supposed to feel like on a trained horse! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Giving Thanks

Cupid and I have been having productive rides, but nothing really remarkable to share.  We did a bit of jumping yesterday, and after a few jumps got back into the rhythm of it.  I meant to post closer to Thanksgiving, but work has been keeping me very busy and I've been sick on top of it.  But I do want to express some gratitude for the many things I'm blessed with.

- To Cupid, my partner and best friend, who is willing to grow with me and continues to rise to the challenge when I keep asking more from him.

- To my wonderful, patient trainer who somehow hasn't given up on me yet, even after telling me the same thing a hundred times!


- To my wonderful and supportive family, for not resenting all the time I spend at the barn.

- To my job, for letting me afford this hobby and allowing me enough flexibility in my schedule to enjoy it!

- To all entire team who helps keep Cupid and me comfortable: barn manager, vet, farrier, saddle fitter, chiropractor (his and mine!), body workers.

- To my barn friends, and internet friends, who share this crazy passion and make it more fun.

- For all the progress Cupid and I have made in the past year, learning the ways of dressage.

- For me becoming not only more competent, but perhaps a little braver.

- That Cupid and I both managed to avoid any serious injuries or health issues.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Indian Summer

We've had a few chilly mornings when I was glad to be wearing fleece breeches, but overall it's been pretty warm.  Cupid was clipped in October, and it seems to be growing back much quicker then in previous years.  I've never had to clip him twice, but we'll see how long and cold this winter will be.
I guess there was a little overnight rain I didn't notice!

After Cupid's shoe got pulled, I did a CleanTrax soak followed by Animalintex wrap three days and he looked good.  Then it was another day before the shoer came out to replace his shoe.  I had been planning a trail ride on Veteran's Day, but that had to be cancelled so I cleaned my trailer instead.  And lost my phone in the process, so spent the next two hours walking around the property, retracing my steps and looking for the phone.  I gave up, but found it the next day, underneath the trailer next to mine!

Our first few rides back were not great, Cupid was just kind of distracted especially in the outdoor arena.  Luckily he was much better during our lesson today (just some minor staring at, and trying to shy away from, a chair several times as we passed it), it probably helped that there was another horse in the arena.

We ended up having a fantastic lesson!  The contact and roundness have gotten so much more consistent.  I still use the billet strap to secure my outside hand.  Hopefully that will help create muscle memory.  We played a little with trot lengthenings, first on a short diagonal but we were losing roundness so we did them on a circle instead, going between a bit of shoulder in to the lengthenings.  They were a bit too quick at first, so I tried to really focus on slowing my posting down.  In the canter we transitioned between a working and medium(ish).

We ended with leg yields.  They felt a little weak today; Cupid was ignoring my leg a bit and I was overbending him.  So we broke it up into moving off the leg, then straightening, kind of stairstepping down the long side.  They still weren't the best we've done, but overall the transitions and everything else were right up there, my trainer and I were both really happy.

We're going to keep working for a few more weeks, then I plan to give Cupid a few weeks off before we start readying for a show in late January.  I'll be kind of bummed if the nice weather continues during our break, then gets nasty right after!  But I'll be gone for a week anyways, and I don't want it too close to the show. 

I think he had hay in his mouth when I bridled him, but we'll just pretend it's good foam!