Tuesday, July 25, 2017

New Wheels!

While Cupid's been resting up his back, I kept myself busy trailer shopping!  I agonized over the decision - it is expensive, and I don't really need one.  But it would be fun to be able to take Cupid more places!  So I thought, it couldn't hurt to look.  I would need an aluminum trailer, since our area is very damp and foggy steel would get destroyed.  Plus it can't be too heavy, so I can pull it with my large SUV.  I was open to either straight or slant load, though I've never tried Cupid in a straight.  I would prefer to have a dressing room.

I finally came across a nice, gently used but impeccably maintained Classic Monarch 2 horse slant load bumper pull.  What sold me was the rumber floors - no heavy mats to lift and clean under!  It looks like it's equipped for camping, it has a water tank and a high line tie up.  It also has a swing out saddle rack. 

My first time hitching it up, at the dealer lot, went well.  The salesguy was helped direct me, and showed me how to attach everything.  It was about a two hour drive home, and I was surprised how easy it felt the trailer just followed along behind the car, and stopped and turned smoothly.  (I have never pulled a trailer so I was a little nervous!)  I stopped at a large parking lot for a little practice.  I thought I was doing good, but then I couldn't back up into my parking spot back at the barn.  The barn manager was trying to help direct me, it was pretty embarrassing!  But with a little more practice I think I'll get it.  I can't wait for all the new adventures awaiting Cupid and me!


Friday, July 21, 2017

Back Out

On Tuesday Cupid started feeling stiff, but seemed to work out of it.  He looked good lunging on Wednesday.  But on Thursday he let me know he was not feeling good.  We started off okay walking around to warm up, but when I asked him to trot he balked.  I asked again and he started backing up.  I tapped him with the crop and he kicked out, and backed up some more.  I try to not make a big deal out it; I will tap-tap with the whip behind my leg and be gentle but firm.  My trainer said even if he is not feeling good he needs to be obedient.

So we did a few easy trot laps to see if he would work out of it - he wasn't lame but he just felt short in the hind and I gave him the benefit of doubt that he really is uncomfortable not just being lazy.  So we just did a little walk work, which we actually needed to do anyways.  I tend to let Cupid get lazy at the walk, or try to get him more forward by what my trainer calls shoving him with my hips.  So I tried to keep my seat lighter and use my leg (and small tap-tap with the whip if necessary).  We did some medium walk and free walk, and then a little leg yielding at the walk, quarter line to wall.  This ride and last for some reason it's been easier leg yielding on one long side of the arena compared to the other.  The easier side does not have a wall, but I don't know if that's the reason.  I would think the other side would be easier because we're going towards the gate! We ended with practicing a little turn on the forehand. 

Then we had our chiropractor appointment, which couldn't come at a better time!  I told the Dr. that something seemed to be off.  She said his lower back was out, and also made some adjustments to his neck.  She showed me a new stretch, basically standing behind Cupid and cupping his ilium (what I think of as the point of the hip) and lean back.  Cupid seemed to like it when she did it.  She recommended giving him a few days off, and then taking it pretty easy the next week with no jumping or collection.  I feel bad that I made him do anything at all the last few days, even though we took it easy I should have listened to him. :(

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Recap - Slow & Steady

Things have continued going well for Cupid and me.

Thursday - I had a good flatwork lesson, though Cupid was struggling a little with the footing and we didn't get the left lead canter our first attempt.  My trainer said I need to package Cupid a little more to make sure his hind end is engaged and he is stepping underneath himself.

Friday - My trainer rode Cupid.  She said he was very good, and got the left lead canter each time he asked but it took a few extra trot steps so I need to make sure I prepare and set him up.  But not to override it, use the smallest aids possible and believe it will happen.  The worst thing that will happen is we keep trotting, so just re-organize and try again!  My trainer said they popped over a few small jumps, and Cupid was very good and relaxed.

Saturday - I had a very fun lesson with a poles course!  We warmed up doing trot poles (3 poles, one stride apart).  I needed to encourage Cupid just a little bit to make the strides, but he figured it out quick.  So we did a little course going over the trot poles, picking up a canter and going over a pole and then a cavaletti.  We finished by adding a very small vertical, which my trainer told me to think of as just another cavaletti.  But somehow we kept having trouble meeting it right, so did it cantering on a circle a few times and finally it felt right.  I really enjoyed working on a course without the stress of actual jumps!

Sunday - Cupid and I did some flatwork in the outdoor arena.  The big tarp pile that was sitting outside the arena the past few months was gone, which helped keep Cupid focused because even though he's seen it dozens of times he still likes to eye it and sometimes drift away from it.  We did a short canter each direction, doing the easier side first.  Then I did a trot change across the middle and we got the left lead first try.  We did a little bending and leg yielding.  Cupid was very good, so we only did about 20 minutes and then walked around the property for a little hack / cool down.
Giving me the guilt trip don't go face at the gate!

Monday - Day off!

Tuesday - Lesson.  Cupid did not feel very good, not lame but he seemed uncomfortable when I asked him to trot.  I kept him at an easy trot and he started to feel better after a few laps.  My trainer thought maybe it was just the change in the weather - it was a cool foggy day after a bit of a hot spell.  So we kept going, but kept it a little easy; no small circles or anything new.  We trotted big loop serpentines, and did a few canter transitions and were able to get the lead correct each time, though once going to the left it felt like Cupid's hind end slipped out from under him a little.  My trainer said to make sure to keep his outside shoulder from popping out, and keep the bend consistent in the circle.  We ended with a little leg yielding. 

Wednesday - Lunging and ground work.  We did plain side reins today.  Then we worked on walk to halt from the ground, and then a little shoulder fore.  My trainer did a little haunches in, and Cupid finds the whip on his hindquarters a little annoying and kicked out a few times!  I know he should always yield to pressure, so we need to work on this more.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Jump for Joy

Cupid and I didn't jump the past 2 weeks, but he has been really good and our flatwork has been going so well I was actually looking forward to jumping again!  Cupid was a touch lazy in our warm up, which made me feel comfortable heading toward our first jump.  We trotted over a crossrail a few times going to the right, then to the left.  Then we cantered it each direction.  It came easy on the right.  To the left the first time we got there a little long, though it was my idea as I saw that spot.  The second time around I half halted a few strides out and sat up, and we chipped a little.  The third time we got it perfect!

We have some new white planks in the arena, they were set as a crossrail on a diagonal with another jump two strides out.  My trainer and I went through where to turn in the corner, and the line I should be on.  We still went a little wide, so the bad approach with the new looking jump made Cupid hesitate and we almost stopped in front of it, but I encouraged him on and we hopped over and continued down the line.  The next time was much smoother.

We put together a little course, starting with our warm up fence coming to the left, continuing on the left and jumping a little vertical on the diagonal, then coming back to a trot to the 2 stride combo on the other diagonal.  Cupid remained nice and relaxed, I was really happy with him!  I am also feeling the improvements I've been making and am happy with that progress.

The following day I got on Cupid bareback, just planning on walking around the property a bit.  The horses in the paddocks had their heads up, and some were running around.  Then I saw the reason for the commotion, a loose horse!  Cupid's head and tail shot up and he started prancing a little.  I considered jumping off, but we halted and Cupid stool still watching.  The loose horse was captured.  Cupid was still a little excited, and looky as we walked on but he behaved aside form one spot where he balked a little. 


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quick recap

Not much has happened since the dressage show.  We had a few rides where Cupid seemed a little distracted or got quick, but our last few rides have been great.  We have been focusing on our flatwork, first because I didn't really want to jump when he was less relaxed, and then the arena footing changed and needs a few days to settle because Cupid doesn't seem as comfortable when it's deep.

When he does get quick, I usually get him trotting in a ~20 meter circle, changing posting diagonals a few times and getting him to accept my inside leg and bend.  Once he starts to settle I may do a few do a few transitions asking him to walk a few steps then back to trot.  Then I will do some transitions within the trot, asking him to shorten a few steps then forward.  I add a few ~10 meter circles at the more collected trot.  Usually after about 15 minutes he behaves.

We had a great lesson in the German martingale.  It helps steady the contact and Cupid goes very with it.  I'm working towards getting that same feeling without it.  

My trainer has suggested I lunge him more, as well as do a little groundwork.  He's gotten better about lunging, not so lazy.  He is very good at the groundwork, and I think enjoys the interaction. 

The weather has been unpredictable.  We had a few cold misty days, followed by several hot days.  I was supposed to have a lesson yesterday but my trainer and I decided to postpone because of the weather.  Instead I put on my bareback pad and Cupid and I went for a nice hack around the property.
Cold and misty one week...

to needing a fly mask and fly sheet the next!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Seven Oaks Dressage Extravaganza

On Sunday morning I groomed Cupid, put him on the trailer, and we set off to a nearby farm for a dressage schooling show.  This time we arrived with plenty of time before our first test!  Cupid seemed pretty relaxed when we arrived.  I tacked up and we headed to the warm up ring.

Cupid was pretty good warming up, though he didn't like one corner of the arena where there were some jumps and stuff stored.  He also got startled when horses walked down the path behind the hedges along the ring.  We walked around a few times, then trotted on a circle to get Cupid accepting my leg.  We cantered each direction, then trotted a square each direction.  Then it was show time!

Our first test was Training 1, which we did at our last show.  It went pretty good, though Cupid got a little crooked down the long side passing by some water tanks, and the other side where there was a viewing platform.  He stumbled a bit in the canter transition, there was a big wet spot in the arena.  But overall I was quite happy.  This time Cupid did not whinny at all.

We had about half an hour until our second test.  At my trainer's suggestion I went back to the trailer and got off and let Cupid relax for about 10 minutes.  He ate a little hay and drank some water, and seemed relaxed.  I got back on and we went back to the warm up arena.  Cupid was super!  When it was time to head to the arena I was feeling really good, expecting we were going to have a great test.  But, that was not the case.

From the moment we entered the arena Cupid was like a different horse, totally unsettled.  He trotted around quickly, with his head high.  He bucked into the canter!  We careened around the 20 meter circle, I was probably pretty much up in 2 point.  Then I forgot the test!  The bell rang, luckily at this schooling show they let you continue.  Cupid has been doing a great stretching trot, but he just giraffe-necked through it.  However our free walk was quite good.  Then we went back into trot, and Cupid picked up a canter a few strides before I could get him back down to a trot.  We did our canter circle, went back down to a trot and I thought we were going to run over a squirrel that was in our path, which seemed like the cherry on top of this disaster.  It was going so poorly I couldn't help but laugh.  But our grand finale ended up being Cupid stumbling into the final halt, almost falling on his face. 

I don't know what happened since Cupid had been so good all day, maybe he just had enough and was ready to go home.  We got a score of 67% for our first test, and the comment said that Cupid was a "lovely horse who seemed to enjoy his work."  On our second test we got comments of : naughty, rambunctious, and exuberant.  It also said: "Tactful rider handles exuberant horse well. However, there needs to be an improvement of overall bend, balance, and roundness to better meet the requirements of this level."

I know Cupid and I are capable of much better, and hopefully next time it will come together.  It was a good learning experience though.  And since I was the only person in my division we came home with a blue and red ribbon.








Saturday, June 24, 2017

Heatwave

The last week has been very hot.  Cupid has been sweating just standing.  So we took it a little easy this week.

Monday - I planned on riding in the outdoor ring in the morning, but it was closed for maintenance so instead Cupid and I just went for for a hack around the property.  One of the paths we hadn't been on in a while due to it being overgrown with branches and brush has been cleaned up, so we went down that.  It runs parallel to the busy road, but with thick shrubbery in between.  I still don't like it when loud big rigs or motorcycles zoom by, but Cupid is not bothered by the noise.  He was very good!  We walked for about half an hour and didn't have any spooks.

Tuesday - Flatwork lesson.  Started out lazy but eventually Cupid woke up a little.  His leg yields have been really good lately, showing more lateral movement.

Wednesday - Rest day.

Thursday - Dressage lesson in the outdoor.  Cupid was a little distracted, and had a few little spooks.  He still doesn't like the end of the arena with the chairs alongside, and tarp pile outside, and tried to cut this corner.  He also seemed to be struggling with the footing in the arena a little.  We tried avoiding the far end where it is more deep and uneven, but he had a few stumbles elsewhere too.
We went through my dressage test twice.  The first time I got lost, oops!  We had a little trouble with the left lead today, I hope that won't happen at the show.  Since Cupid had a few spooks and stumbles, plus trying to remember my test I was riding a little defensively (leaning forward), which I still need to work on.

Friday - Flatwork lesson.  My trainer had me ride with the crop under my thumbs.  This was a really good exercise for me because it helped me feel when I was twisting my wrist, and also realize when I was leaning.  I am having a hard time getting a good walk out of Cupid, not letting him be too lazy.

Saturday - Group jumping lesson!  This was a fun change of pace, I had 3 other ladies in my group.  We practiced a lot of 2 point, and took turns cantering.  There were a few other people in the arena as well, and Cupid was being very good with all the activity.  During the warm up he was actually quite lazy and got passed a few times.
Then we did a little grid.  First it was two crossrails one stride apart, trot in canter out and halt.  Then we added a third jump, and then the last two became verticals.  Cupid was a little excited, I circled him before we started the grid until he settled down and also gave a half halt before the first jump.  He was a little more eager than I like, but we went through it several times.  Though we did almost touch the arena rail before halting a few times!  My trainer said I still need to work on sitting up in between the jumps, but my last time was the best one.  Our straightness is getting better too.