Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Heart to Horse Box Review

Since Cupid and I don't really have any training notes, I thought I'd do a product review on the mystery package  received in the mail this week - my sister surprised me with a Heart to Horse Box.  This is similar to the monthly subscriptions they have for snacks and beauty products just with horse stuff!  In addition to the products, each box makes a donation to a horse related charity!  My box donated to "Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue." 


The box included the following:
-Mrs. Pastures horse cookies: Cupid loves these treats!
-Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover: Luckily Cupid's dark coat doesn't really show green spots, but it might be good for his sweat stains.
-Mane/Tail brush
-Wine Down hoof pick: It's a hoof pick and wine opener in one!  I'm not a wine drinker so I may regift it to someone who is, or just use as a hoofpick.
-German horse hair jewelry kit: Make your own bracelets or keychains from your horse's hair.  I'll have to try it out when I pull Cupid's mane in the spring!
-Wine bottle gift bag: It was a pretty burgundy with gold horses, and nice and thick good quality.  I used it to give my best friend a bottle of champagne.
-Wave Fork tine: This is kind of weird, it is a replacement tine for a wave fork pitchfork.  Since I don't have that pitchfork I won't really get much use for it.  The only flop in the box.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

The weather continues to be cold and rainy.  Though I have been able to ride consistently, we have been taking it a little easier.  We aren't really working on anything new right now.  Some days when the weather is particularly bad the horses don't get turned out, so I just try to get Cupid out of the stall and moving a little.  He remains pretty lazy even when he's been locked inside! 
We need to suit up in our rain gear just to get to the covered arena!

Yesterday we got a break in the rain so I did a little bareback (with pad) ride around the property.  There were some very muddy patches, where I thought to myself please don't let me fall off right here into this mud pit.  Luckily I didn't.  Cupid had one little spook, I think the wind picked up a tarp and it startled him and he started trotting away.  I got him back to a walk and then stop, and made him walk back towards it a little, giving him lots of pats.

Today we had a flatwork lesson.  Mainly worked on our canter transitions and leads.  My trainer also made me trot around in two point for a few minutes, a good exercise for my legs.  Apparently even in two point I let me legs slide back.

On Christmas morning I will go out to see Cupid and give him lots of treats and tell him what a good boy he is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taking it Easy

It feels like Cupid and I have been taking it a little easier the past few weeks.  I thought if I moved him into the barn then the weather would stay nice to spite me, but that has not been the case.  Luckily we have the covered arena to ride in, but it's still not pleasant dealing with the cold and mud.  The pasture is becoming a bit of a bog, and there have been a few days when the horses didn't get turned out due to the weather.  Cupid gets a little stiff from standing around, but thankfully he does not seem to get hyper.
Nice and cozy
I hate mud!







Although I love the closeness of riding bareback unfortunately Cupid is just not that comfortable.  Our new bareback pad seems to be a good compromise.  Sometimes when I come out before work I'm pressed for time, so I just put the bareback pad and bridle on and ride him around the property for 20-30 minutes.  Sometimes I just put the reins directly on the halter, but lately we've been working on the contact with the bit and I figure that's something we can continue to work on even outside the arena.  With the pad I've even done a little trotting.  It also came in handy when Cupid got startled first by a mail truck that came whipping around the corner up the drive, and then a worker popped out of the hay barn with a shovel over his shoulder.  Cupid is not spooky, but he did shy sideways a little.  But he was good and didn't do anything too crazy, and the suede pad helps add a little grip!
Bareback pad
 

Monday, December 7, 2015

New Toy

We've had some very cold days.  According to my thermometer, some mornings have been in the low 30s.  Since it is supposed to be a very wet winter, I decided to move Cupid into a stall for the winter.  He will still go out to the pasture with his buddies during the daytime.  I got some toys to keep him from getting bored.

I was out of town for a few days, and my trainer suggested he ride Cupid while I was away.  I was hesitant because he hadn't ridden Cupid before and I wanted to be there the first time.  In the end I relented, though I was a little anxious.  I didn't want Cupid to be confused, or punished for something I inadvertently have trained him to do!  But it sounds like things went pretty well.  Our trainer said he focused mainly on riding with more contact and getting Cupid to accept it, since I have a bad habit of riding with open hands and loose reins.
When I came back I tried to focus on my hands and arms.  Cupid did seem soft, we had some nice moments.  But I have been riding incorrectly for a very long time so it is going to be hard for me to change!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Canter Work

We've been focusing a lot on our canter - working on our leads, up and down transitions, and adjusting the stride.  Cupid has a very nice canter but sometimes it's hard to keep him going.  I am also still working on sitting in the saddle, my natural tendency is to lean forward and/or go into two point.
Yesterday we did a figure 8 exercise, starting with a pole in the middle which was eventually raised into a little crossrail.  Cupid prefers the right lead, and we had more success landing correctly to the right.
Today we cantered down the long side of the arena, looped around at the bottom and went diagonally across cantering the last few strides along the rail without changing leads.  Then in the corner we would do a simple change and go down the other side.Cupid was good and did not try to swap leads or break into a trot.  After riding the pattern a few times Cupid seemed to know what we were doing and pretty much did it himself!
Begging for treats

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Creative Jumps

My trainer has been bugging me about not lunging Cupid.  It's true, neither he nor I enjoy it much so we haven't done it in a while!  But today I decided to lunge him at the start of my lesson, and it was a lot of work getting Cupid to go.  Using the lunge whip feels mean, and I think Cupid just wonders why that crazy lady is chasing him around instead of giving him carrots.  My trainer said I should not accept a trot less than Cupid stepping his hind feet into his front feets' tracks.
I was happy when the lunging portion was over and I got on to ride.  We worked on adjusting the stride at a canter.  We also cantered across the diagonal, not changing leads (simple change) until reaching the opposite corner.  I am suppose to not trot more than 3 strides, which we managed to do.
Then we started out with a pole in the middle of the arena going over it in a figure-8.  Then the pole became a little crossrail.  I tried to look the direction I was going and open that rein a little to get Cupid to land on the correct lead.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not - again if we land on the incorrect lead then simple change within 3 strides.  Apparently I got 6 once, oops, but overall it went well.
Next we did a 2 stride combo, and around to a special jump my trainer set up involving a mounting block and 2 wheelbarrows!  He was nice enough to put wings up, which helps me a lot.  Cupid hit the 2 strides perfectly the first time.  I was trying really hard not the think about the unusual jump, just keep Cupid forward and NOT LOOK DOWN!!  Trainer said don't think about it and Cupid won't care.  Well he was right, Cupid went right over. :)  We tried it from different approaches and added a few other jumps for a little course.  Then our trainer took the mounting block out leaving just the wheelbarrows, making it narrow but still with the wings.  It gave me confidence to know Cupid wasn't bothered by the unusual jumps.
Wheelbarrow jump

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Counter Canter

We focused on flatwork in our lesson today, working on some things we haven't done in a while.  We did some leg yielding at the trot, starting by doing a circle at the end of the arena, turning on the quarter line, and leg yielding back to the rail.  After a few times we added leg yielding back away from the wall.  At first I thought it was easier to move Cupid off my left leg, but actually it's a little inconsistent and we had some good and bad attempts on each side. 
Next we did shoulder-in at the trot.  Also started by doing a circle and then maintaining the bend coming out of it.  We were supposed to do 10 meter circle but I'm pretty sure mine were much bigger.
Our final exercise was the beginnings of counter-canter.  First we did some very shallow loops coming off the rail and then back on.  Then we did kind of a keyhole pattern, coming down the long side and turning on the center line and riding across back to the rail.  I was busy making sure he didn't break to a trot and forgot to focus on the bend, but our trainer said we did pretty good.  I was also happy with our ride today, Cupid was very good and listening.  After I do an exercise a few times he gets it, and is like "oh why didn't tell me that's what you wanted!" 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Snack Time

Many of my coworkers know about Cupid, and ask about him!  One of my friends from work gave me some apple pears from her tree for him, I made this video for her.

video

Trail Ride

Normally when I say Cupid and I go on a trail ride I am just referring to the little paths on the property.  There are nice little bridle paths with some gentle inclines and good footing, and Cupid and I are pretty comfortable on these.  However this weekend I decided to take him off the property to the county park nearby. 
This adventure begins with riding about half a mile down a busy road.  Lot of fast cars and motorcycles!  Luckily the traffic doesn't bother Cupid, though I always worry because you never know how stupid the drivers are going to be.  We passed by a house which was trimming trees and chipping the wood.  Cupid definitely looked at that but walked past it.  He was nervous, but being a good boy.  We got to the park, and there were quite a few hikers.  The trails start with a pretty steep descent.  Cupid was walking fast, but otherwise good.  He whinnied once and I think looking for his buddies.  We walked a little ways down, I figured that was enough for one day and we turned back.  I let him trot a little ways back up, but didn't want to go too fast and bowl over the hikers!  He was the same the rest of the way back, a little quick but didn't try anything naughty.  We passed the tree trimmers again without incident.
Photo by Karl Pingle, http://www.openspace.org/
It rained on Saturday night, so on Sunday I rode in the covered arena.  We had a nice, easy ride.  I put Cupid's hunter gear on, so no martingale and no flash noseband.  If my trainer was there he would have gotten on my case about being lazy, and letting Cupid be lazy.  Oh well, we have 4 lessons next week so I might as well take advantage now!  We finished with a few little jumps.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Week Off

I've been traveling for work so Cupid had the week off.  I came back at midnight on Friday, after a 7 hour flight and 3 hour time difference and had a lesson at 8 the next morning.  Cupid ambled over to the gate when he saw me coming, same as usual.  I don't know if he missed me but I missed him!  I tacked him up and we went to the arena to start warming up.  I was joking about him being really fresh after a week off, but if anything he was actually extra lazy. 
We had a good lesson.  Our flatwork was primarily focused on getting a bigger trot.  My trainer told me to stay in the up part of posting a moment longer to encourage Cupid to lengthen.  Then we worked on jumping a grid.  My task was to make sure Cupid was forward coming in to the jump, and to fold from my waist instead of stand up over the jump.  The jumps were at a diagonal across the short side of the arena, and I don't like being so close to the wall.  Turning left was easy but going to the right was a tighter turn, we couldn't really maintain the canter.  Cupid was very good, but he seemed to get a little tired so we ended a few minutes early. 
We had another lesson on Sunday.  My trainer asked how Cupid felt and I thought he felt okay.  But after another minute I asked if he was asking about the right front leg, he seemed to favor it just a bit.  We did finish our lesson just took it a little easier.  Our trainer said we need to focus on our flatwork before competing next year, which I know is true. 
We are heading into the rainy season, so Cupid will probably be moving into a stall soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Twin Rivers, Day 3 (Horse Trial!)

Despite my excitement and nerves, I was able to sleep fairly well the night before the show.  I did have one bad dream, but it was not related to riding! 

Our dressage test was scheduled for 9:20.  I got to the barn a little after 7 to take Cupid for a walk, then let him eat his hay while I cleaned his stall and groomed him.  I decided to lunge him a little in case he had some extra energy, but he was pretty lazy.  Since this was a Halloween show, I wore a medieval knight costume and made Cupid a studded breastplate and saddle pad.

So I got on and we only had a few minutes before we had to go in the ring.  This is the first time I've ever done a dressage test at a competition!  My trainer had gone through the protocol with me a few times, but the timing and whistles and everything are still a little confusing.  So I wasn't sure if I was supposed to go in.  Our first halt and salute was not really good, Cupid got fidgety.  I felt okay about the rest of the test, but it went by so quick it was over before I really realized what was happening.  At the least I didn't forget anything, though my test (Intro B) is super simple.  And my trainer said I was smiling.
First dressage test, in costume - Photo by Michelle Cale

We got a score of 31.9.  We got 6s on both our halts (though I thought the second one was good) and for our trot-walk transition.  But we got a few 8s, for our medium trot and our 20 meter circle.  The notes said we had potential, but that the rider should "stretch more throughout."  Haha, I think that means I was probably hunching forward with my shoulders and not stretching into my heels.  I do need to ride in my dressage saddle more, I'm still not totally used to it.

We didn't have much time to relax before getting ready for the next two phases.  The weather was surprisingly cool all morning (the sun later came out and it got quite warm mid-afternoon after we were done). The show jumps were all pretty tiny, I think most of them were only about 12".  I was concerned about the Halloween decorations on the jumps, but luckily Cupid was unfazed.  One of the jumps had a row of pumpkins under them and I was irrationally concerned about it, I was trying hard not to think about it or look at them but my trainer said I did look down.  Oops.  Good thing Cupid ignored me and didn't look!  He did however get a little quick after jump 5, I'm not sure why.  He was a little strong but I pulled him up and he was fine the rest of the way.  We just trotted in between the jumps.

Jumping the pumpkins - Photo by Michelle Cale

After our show jump round we went straight to cross country.  Luckily we had already gone over all the jumps on our course the past two days, but I haven't done cross country as a steady course without stopping and walking and taking my time.  We trotted between the jumps and Cupid was really good.  Until the last jump that is, after which he got a little strong and we streaked across the finish line!  I don't know if it was because we were going back towards the barn, or maybe he was sensing my relief, or something else entirely.  But we were galloping towards the warm up area, haha.  I pulled him up in a big circle before we plowed into anyone.

Overall I'm happy with the way the day went.  There were some rookie mistakes and a few things to work on.  Hopefully a few more outings away from home and Cupid and I will both be more relaxed about it.
Cupid's first ribbon - 5th place

Monday, October 26, 2015

Twin Rivers, Days 1 and 2

Our weekend started with a bit of drama as Cupid did not want to load in the trailer.  I was surprised because he was good last time.  This time we had a bigger (6 horse) trailer, with a pretty big step up.  We tried coaxing him with treats and grain.  We tried a lunge whip, to no avail.  The hauler finally moved the trailer to the hill so the step wasn't as big but by that point Cupid didn't even want to go near it.  I was about to give up when my wonderful vet came by, and patiently lifted each leg and slowly moved him forward until he was on.
The drive was about 3 hours.  We got there and let the horses get settled in their stalls and have some lunch.  Then we saddled up and headed out for a walk around the cross country course.  Cupid and I are doing the beginner division which is not timed, you can trot for both show jumping and cross country, and the maximum jump size is 18 inches.  We jumped a few of the jumps we thought might be part of our course, and a few of the Intro jumps (next level up).  Cupid was very good, and I was more relaxed then I was at Camelot.
Relaxing in his temporary home
On the second morning we explored the show jumping arena.  My nerves were starting to act up again a little.  Although Cupid was being good, he is definitely more eager to go when he is away from home.  Then we were told we were not supposed to be in that arena, whoops.  So instead we went back out to the cross country course.  Cupid got a little excited when we cantered through and out of the water!  Our trainer had us do a good bit of cantering after that, which definitely tired me out more than Cupid. 
Photo by Michelle Cale
Photo by Michelle Cale

By the second afternoon Cupid was getting bored of spending so much time in a stall, even though I took him out for several walks.  He has a bad habit of putting his teeth on the stall bars and scraping them back and forward.  It makes a bad sound and also can't be good for him!  Maybe next time I'll try to bring some sort of stall toy for him, but I think he may still be more interested in the bars!  He also was not really interested in eating his grass hay.  He ate up the alfalfa hay and his grain, and a bunch of disgusting old scraps of hay he finds on the ground so I think he's just being picky.





Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Show Prep

So it's finally going to happen (I think...) Cupid and I are entered for our first competition this weekend!  It is a one day horse trial, with a Halloween theme.  We are planning on doing the "green as grass" division, where you can trot the jumps so hopefully it will be fun and easy.

The halting after jumps we did last week really seemed to help Cupid listen.  We did a little course of jumps today no halting, and he was super relaxed throughout.  I felt very confident and comfortable and finally was able to allow him to come up to the jumps with a nice forward tempo, he jumped beautifully.  Before I was scared and always felt like we were going too fast so I had him coming up to jumps too slow, which forced him to jump more awkwardly.  We cantered to some of the jumps and trotted others.  I wasn't even nervous about doing a three jump combination (one stride in between each), ending with the third one at about 2'6".  Combos used to scare me because I felt like I didn't have enough time to prepare in between them, but since Cupid's being going so nice and my position has been more secure I didn't hesitate.  Our partnership has gotten really strong, I feel like we're trusting each other. 
I love this horse!


Friday, October 16, 2015

Appointments

Cupid's had a very busy week with a bunch of appointments.

First up he saw a dentist.  It's been about a year since he's had his teeth done.  The vet gave him a sedative so he just dozed through the appointment.  The vet showed me where he had some sharp edges on his back teeth.  He also pulled out the last of Cupid's baby teeth so I guess he's pretty much all grown up!
Smile!
Getting very sleepy!
Filing off the sharp edges

Then while Cupid was still drowsy he got his coat clipped.  He's been working up quite a sweat when I ride him.  We decided to do a trace clip so he will be okay if he's outside overnight without a blanket.  Cupid was waking up by the end and getting a little restless.
Trace clip
Cupid also saw the vet this week for a general checkup and to get his fall vaccines.  Everything looked good.  The vet said Cupid had put on a little muscle since he last saw him.  We also talked about his stifle, though he's looked pretty good lately.  The vet said to continue with the conditioning program and to make sure I ride him correctly.  Trotting nice and forward will help him build the right muscles, while shuffling along doesn't do anything - good thing my trainer likes to remind me of this. :) 

In our lessons we have been working on halting after jumps.  Cupid has been jumping nice and quiet and comes to a halt, but once halted he gets fidgety.  A lot of times I know I'm not sitting deep enough, I tend to pinch with my upper leg and hover over the saddle.  Working on this will help with our dressage tests too.  I've also been trying to work on my position over fences.  I let me leg slide back, then my upper body pitches forward and I stand too much out of the saddle.  It turns out if I feel like I'm kind of in a jet ski position with my legs in front of me my legs are actually pretty well underneath me.  I've been trying to keep my butt in the saddle until the base of the jump to not prevent getting ahead.  When I remember to focus on this it's a lot better, but unfortunately I've been doing it wrong for so long it's going to be a hard habit to break.  Good thing Cupid and my trainer are both very patient with me!



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Camelot - Schooling Weekend Days 2 and 3

I woke up early and went to check Cupid.  We went for a little walk, then I put him in the round pen while I cleaned his stall and filled his hay and water.  Then I went for a run while he had his breakfast, and got a little lost on the trails! 

We saddled up a little before noon and warmed up in one of the jumping rings.  I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure how Cupid would act in a new place - which of course doesn't help him relax!  I was holding the reins tighter than usual and Cupid gently reminded me not to do that.  Sorry Cupid!  I was still quite nervous heading out to the cross country course, it definitely feels different when you don't have the arena walls around you!  I wasn't sure if I was ready to do any jumps so at first we just watched.  Then I saw a little log.  In fact it was so little Cupid could step over it.  So I had him walk over it.  Then we walked back the other way.  So far so good.  I was still scared, but asked him to trot and he calmly hopped over it. 
Our first cross country jump!  
After a few times over the tiny log we moved on.  We went on to jump up a bank, and over our first ditch!  Cupid was a star.  He took everything in stride, wasn't concerned about the new obstacles and didn't try to run off with me.  I was so proud of him!  I wish I could say I was as confident as he was, but I was still pretty scared.  I'm surprised Cupid didn't react to my tenseness but he was such a good boy and took care of me.  Once again I was reminded how lucky I am to have him! 
We jumped up this bank
Our tiny ditch
I was hoping I would be more comfortable on day three, then was dismayed to find myself still tense.  I told my trainer that perhaps I would just turn Cupid into a Western trail horse.  He would be pretty good at it!  But I was feeling pretty down on myself, and like I let Cupid and my trainer down.  So my wonderful trainer took me on a nice easy trail ride and we talked about my fears.  He reassured me that my feelings weren't uncommon, I shouldn't expect to feel the same as I did when I was young.  I was reminded that riding is supposed to be fun and I don't need to put so much pressure on myself.  By the end of the ride I felt a lot better, like a weight had been lifted.  So Cupid and I cantered around the field, then went back out to the cross country course and hopped over a few logs!  I'm glad we ended on a good note.

The third afternoon Cupid was happy to doze in his stall with his head resting on the door.  We loaded up mid afternoon for the long drive back.  Cupid seemed happy to be back home, and walked straight to the pasture gate.  Probably to brag to his buddies about his adventures!


Camelot - Schooling Weekend Day 1

Cupid and I had finally had our first excursion away from home.  Our trainer and a few of his clients were going to a clinic, and Cupid and I tagged along.  We went to a wonderful facility with lots of trails, jumping and dressage arenas, and a cross country course, and to top it off you can camp out right next to the horses!  I've always wanted to go horse camping.

Cupid was very good going into the trailer.  The ride was about 4 hours long.
Wrapped & ready
Step right up
We got there a little before the horses and got the stalls ready.  I took Cupid for a short walk to stretch his legs.  He looked around and whinnied a few times but seemed to be handling it okay.  He relaxed in his stall for a bit and had some hay, then we saddled up for our first ride.  I lunged him a little, he was distracted but trying very hard to listen and be a good boy.  He stopped to look around a few times but wasn't acting crazy.  I warmed up in a dressage arena and then we headed out toward the cross country course.

This was Cupid's first time on a cross country course, and I haven't been on one in over 15 years.  I think I was definitely the more nervous between us two!  But Cupid was behaving very well.  We kept it pretty easy, did a little trotting and a short canter.  Then we investigated the water complex.  Cupid only looked at it for a brief moment before bravely walking in.  The water was about halfway to his knees.  We walked through it a few times and then did it at a trot.  Cupid pawed in it a few times and I was afraid he wanted to roll so we kept moving.
Water complex
In the evening I took him for another walk, then gave him his dinner and topped off his water and headed to my tent.  It was really cool hearing the horses as I was falling asleep and knowing Cupid would be right there when I woke up!
Too bad he can't fit inside!



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Checking In

Cupid and I have been taking it relatively easy the past week.  I was gone camping last weekend, and yesterday had a dentist appointment so Cupid got a few extra days off.  I had been a little concerned about his right hind leg but he felt good today.  We did some basic flatwork, mostly working on getting him a little more forward in his trot.  We did short canters on each lead and he was good.  Then we did some jumps.  We started out with a few crossrails.  My trainer asked how I was feeling today, and I was feeling very relaxed so we built up to a little course with a few crossrails, the brush box, and the barrels with a rail over it.  If he lands on the appropriate lead then I've been letting him canter between jumps.  He has been excellent, cantering quietly without rushing.  We added a 2'6" oxer to the course.  The first time to the oxer Cupid chipped in but we got over it.  The second time was much better.  I was really happy with our performance, it was a good confidence booster.  I need to work on not letting my leg swing back or out over jumps.  I told my trainer I would ride more in two point to strengthen it. 

Cupid decided he doesn't want to lunge anymore.  It is so hard to get him going!  Once I get on him he is great, it seems like he just doesn't like going around in circles.  I don't really blame him, it's not really my favorite thing to do either.  I just try to do a little to make the trainer happy.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Guest Rider

Yesterday one of my trainer's working students rode Cupid after my lesson.  Other than my sister no one else has rode him in quite a while.  It took them a few minutes to get used to each other, Cupid was fussing with his head at first but then settled down.  It was fun watching him go, though also a bit nerve-wracking for me!  (I'm a little protective...)  The girl is a pony clubber, and a lot more confident than me!  After a little flat work she asked if she could do some jumps.  I told her if she was comfortable go ahead.  They did very well, just one run out on a three stride combo.  Cupid tried ducking out with me on that same line but I was able to get him back on track instead of just let him take control.  Then we put the jumps up a little, I think they finished at around 2'6".
Cupid being a good boy for his guest rider.

My lesson prior went very well.  Cupid has been very responsive, and I'm becoming more focused and organized.  Apparently I have a bad tendency to stand up over jumps instead of folding forward, so I'm trying to work on that.  We started by jumping the little three stride combo, first as a pole to a jump then raised the pole to a small crossrail.  Then we added a little brush box after that, in kind of a figure 8 pattern.  Then we added the barrel jump, which was next to the brush box so jumped, landed and circled around to the barrels.  I didn't hesitate so neither did Cupid. :)  I was very happy with our lesson.

On my non-lesson days I spent one day in my dressage saddle working primarily on our transitions.  The halts still need work, I think I'll have my trainer help me with that at our next session.  I also went on a nice little trail ride.  We took it easy and mainly just walked and enjoyed the view.
View from Cupid's back
We watched the fog roll over the ocean

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lazy Day

The heatwave finally broke today.  In fact it was cool and drizzly when I went out to the barn this morning.  I figured Cupid would probably be feeling a little spry with the change in temperature, and was a little surprised to find that if anything he was lazier than usual!  Thankfully we were all alone.  What I call Cupid's "comfortable trot" my trainer usually refers to as "revolting!"  We trotted over a pole and cantered a bit.  Usually jumping wakes Cupid up, so I point him towards a little X.  He comes to a crawl a few steps out, and makes the smallest possible effort to barely clear it!  So I decided both of us need to put a little bit more effort into this ride and encouraged him on.  The rest of the ride was not bad.  We jumped a few Xs, a little vertical, the brush box, and even the dreaded barrels.  I decided not to attempt the 4 jump combo set up on the diagonal.
Some of the jumps we went over today - blurry because I took from the saddle.

Cupid modeling his fleece cooler - he is accumulating quite the wardrobe!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Debut delayed

Cupid and I have been working hard towards our first show, which was supposed to be next weekend.  Unfortunately it looks like we will have to wait a little longer to make our debut.  :(  It sounds like no one else from my boarding stable is planning on going, and it is just too cost-prohibitive to charter a trailer just for one horse.  Although I was pretty nervous I was also excited to see how we would do and how Cupid reacts in that environment.  It is a little disappointing that we can't go, but he is still young and we there will be plenty of other opportunities in the future. 

We have been working a lot on our down transitions and halts.  Trot to walk tends to be pretty abrupt, and Cupid gets fidgety at the halt.  I noticed he tends to swing his hindquarters to the right after he halts, I don't know if I'm sitting or holding the reins uneven and making him do it or if it's just his own tendency.  For me I've been working on just getting more comfortable/relaxed jumping.  I still jump ahead a little and let me legs swing back but it's a bit better when I'm specifically thinking about it. 

Our trainer would like us to work on our fitness - doing sets of 3 minutes trot and 2 minutes canter (about twice around the large covered arena).  The canter work is fun!  Cupid and I are both getting used to me riding in the saddle instead of two point.  I'm working on using my core and starting to play a little with increasing and decreasing Cupid's stride. 
Quick rinse after our ride - by 8am it is already pretty warm!


Monday, September 14, 2015

Heat Wave

Cupid and I completed our "boot camp" - six consecutive days of lessons!  I was worried he would get cranky or sore by the end, but he was a good boy throughout. 
With the jumping he's good as long as I'm good.  Some days I let my anxiety get the better of me, and we had a run out when I got scared of a jump over barrels.  We ended up taking the middle barrel out and just trotting through it a few times as I didn't feel confident enough to try again, and jumped some crossrails.  But the next day we did the barrels - the trainer put up "bumper lanes" (aka wings) which helped me feel more confident.  Cupid doesn't need them but sometimes I do!  We did a nice little course, trotting most but cantering a few of the jumps.  Cupid still jumps a little green and I'm never sure if he's going to add a stride or take off early, or jump huge but mostly I just try to stay out of his way.
We also worked on our dressage tests.  I have them memorized, but will probably have someone call it at the show because I may forget with the nerves!  The biggest things we have to work on are the trot-walk transition, which is still too abrupt, and me relaxing and sitting up when Cupid gets quick instead of leaning more forward like I tend to do.  I also am still getting used to the longer stirrups, it feels weird and like I can't even post up.
We've had a little heat wave.  Luckily my lessons are in the morning, but even by 8 it has been 80 degrees!  Due to the drought I've only been sponging Cupid off after I ride, but on Saturday I finally couldn't take it anymore, he was totally filthy so I gave him a good rinse with the hose.  He looks so much better now plus I can get him ready quicker.  
Fly proof
The water is always cooler on the other side of the fence!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Keeping busy

Cupid and I have some extra sessions with our trainer this week because we're going to our first show in a few weeks!!  Since this is Cupid's first show, and my first show in about 15 years, I want to take it a bit easy and see how he reacts being in that atmosphere.  Hopefully he will not be too anxious.  If he seems okay we will do some Intro dressage tests, and possible a crossrail jumping class.  I'm starting to get nervous just thinking about it, but hopefully I can stay relaxed enough to help Cupid relax too.
Our past few sessions have been excellent.  Cupid has been trotting quietly into jumps, and landing quietly and listening to me.  We jumped almost all the jumps set up in the arena, twisting around in a little course.  Mostly they were cross rails, but also a slightly narrow vertical, a little brush box, and a jump with barrels lying under it.  There was a triple combination: cross rail oxer, one length to another crossrail, and two lengths to the brush box, but instead of jumping it as a line we jumped each element individually on an angle, and also jumped the first and last one going around the middle one.  That exercise was hard, I missed the second jump the first two times because I didn't plan ahead and react fast enough on landing and didn't want to jerk Cupid around to make it.  Planning ahead is something I need to work on for my courses.
I have dressage Intro B pretty well memorized; it's a simple test just walk trot, with 20 meter circles at trot on each rein and one change of direction at a walk.  I need to work on my halting at X, I usually start asking too early.  Also our downward transitions can be a little abrupt.
This weekend my sister rode Cupid.  It was fun watching him go, since usually I only get the view from his back.  He was being a little lazy but was a good boy.
Handsome boy!

Starting to look all grown up

New sheet, will keep him clean before the show

Monday, August 31, 2015

Gear

One of my least favorite things about horseback riding is the amount of gear needed.  My trainer likes me to lunge before lessons to loosen Cupid up, and establish light contact with the side reins.  So between Cupid and myself we need the following:
-saddle (Stubben Portos)
-saddle pad (Roma all purpose)
-half pad (Thinline, just switched from sheepskin)
-girth (ancient)
-fleece girth cover (because he has thin skin)
-side reins (leather w/ rubber donut)
-lunge line (I use a thick cotton one)
-breastplate w/ running martingale attachment (HDR)
-gloves (ancient & need to be replaced)
-helmet (Ovation)
-lunge whip (courtesy of my sister)
-bridle (Plymouth w/ flash noseband; Myler comfort snaffle)
-crop
Once the jumps get bigger we'll probably add boots for Cupid.  Hauling it all out and putting it on is just once problem, I also try to clean everything most weekends.  Sometimes I like to just go on strike and clip some reins onto Cupid's halter and nothing else!