Monday, March 30, 2015

First fall

After owning Cupid for 9 months, I had my first fall off him this weekend. He has been a little naughty lately. I'm not sure why, but our trainer thinks we're asking him to work harder and he's trying to figure out how to get out of it! I used to canter him on a loose rein and had to encourage him to keep going, but now that I've been riding with more contact he either doesn't like/isn't use to it, or is remembering his racehorse past and thinks I want him to run. I'm not sure. I was trying to canter him on a 20 meter circle, but he got way too quick and I couldn't keep him on the circle, and he just got faster. I was able to pull him up, get him to relax a little bit, and then when I asked for the canter again the same thing happened. Only this time, I'm not sure exactly it happened really fast but he threw in some sort of little buck or hop and I went flying off! He kept racing around the outside of the arena, I got back up and stood in front of Cupid and asked him to whoa and he stopped in front of me. There was another rider in the ring too but she was stopped in the middle talking to her trainer when it happened. I'm okay, mostly just mad at myself for letting it happen and not stopping him right away. When he starts running I kind of just stay up in two point instead of sitting back down. Sometimes I'm just afraid if I try to circle him he will lose his balance, but I need to be tougher. I got back on Cupid after, and kept working. We did a little canter each direction without incident, but he never fully relaxed. He was tense and whinnied several times. I hope this is just a temporary phase and I get my easy going horse back soon!

Next day both of us were a little sore, Cupid looked a little short on his left hind again so I let him take it a little easy. Lunged him in side reins (they are getting shorter now), W/T/C both directions. I got on him for just 15 minutes, walk/trot only.

Here he is looking sweet and innocent!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

New shoes, and more jumping

The farrier was supposed to come on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning I went out to see that it had not been done and Cupid's LF shoe was starting to feel loose. It wasn't too bad, I put bell boots on so he doesn't accidently step on the back of the shoe and pull it off. We did an exercise on a 20 meter circle where I was supposed to trot the circle, pick up the canter, and drop back to a trot half way around before going back into the canter. Once Cupid starts cantering he can sometimes get a little excited and wants to keep going. On this day he was actually better going to the left, he picked up the left lead correct each time and we managed to stay on a pretty decent circle. Going to the right we had a few incorrect leads, and Cupid kept throwing his outside shoulder out and wanted to run out of the circle.
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We were supposed to have another lesson on Friday but the farrier didn't come Thursday either and the shoe was gone. I felt bad for not calling the farrier to check, usually I don't schedule an appointment he just comes every 6 weeks. I ended up doing a short ride on one of my trainer's horses. It has been a long time since I've ridden a different horse, and this big warmblood mare was very different from Cupid. It took some getting used to, but she had a very smooth trot and by the end of the lesson we were working together pretty well. Then the farrier showed up and I was very glad Cupid would get taken care of.

On Saturday we did a little jumping, for the first time in two weeks. We started out doing just a line of 3 poles. Then the last pole became a little crossrail. Then the second pole also became a crossrail, one stride out. Eventually the last one was a small oxer, as seen in the clip below. We were supposed to do a little course, but Cupid had a bit of extra energy and got a little too excited. He took off in a gallop after one of the jumps, and went all the way around the arena before I came to my senses, sat up straight and pulled him to a stop! Oops. That's what happens when I lose focus. Our trainer recommended I try a flash noseband and rubber grip reins.
video

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dressage

As much as Cupid and I enjoy jumping (well I think he seems to anyways!), we cannot neglect the fundamentals of dressage.  We started out with shoulders-in coming out of a circle.  This went pretty well at the walk, and had a few nice ones trotting on the right.  The haunches-in presented more of a challenge.  This is something I haven't done before so I probably wasn't doing a great job asking Cupid.  We also tried a few steps turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches.  Again this is all new to me as well.  Cupid tries very hard to figure out what I'm asking him, and he often surprises me with how much he can do, I think I tend to underestimate him!  Our trainer thinks Cupid has a nice natural rhythm and might actually do pretty well in dressage!  I have a lot to learn, I've mainly only ridden hunt seat. 

Cupid got a few days off last week because he was a little sore.  Luckily he seems okay now.  He was very good about being in a stall, but he seemed happy when he got to go back out with his friends!
video

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Jumping!

What do a mounting block, white plastic barrel, and flower box have in common? They are all things Cupid and I jumped over this week! Althoug I initially had doubts (having never jumped a mounting before, and being a little intimidated by barrels), I tried to give him confidence and NOT LOOK DOWN, and he doesn't really care what the jump is made of. We have done little lines and a small course, trotting in and I let him decide if he wants to canter out or just trot. He is still figuring it all out, but overall he is very calm about the whole thing. I didn't think we would be jumping so soon, but as long as he is sound and not stressed I'm just going to trust my trainer's plan. This morning we focused on flatwork. We worked on poles in a fan shape on a circle, first walk then trot. It is still hard getting him to bend so it took a lot of concentration keeping him on the circle. We ended the lesson with some cantering. We started on his more difficult side, and got the left lead on the second try. Then my job was to keep him on a nice 20 meter circle. I still have a tendency to canter in half seat so I was really focusing on keeping my butt in the saddle, not lean to the inside, and a nice soft contact in the reins. We did it twice on the left, then when we changed direction he still picked up the left lead. Oops! Got it right on the second try. Since our trainer is gone next weekend we had some extra lessons this week. I was worried Cupid was going to start dreading seeing me since I've been making him work pretty hard, but if anything our bond has increased. He now walks to the gate when I come, and even when I return him to the pasture he hangs out in front of the tack room if I'm in there. Well I do give him treats, but I like to think he actually likes me regardless! 


Monday, March 2, 2015

Side Reins

Two of my big problems include not bending my elbows, and not closing my hands on the reins.  Unfortunately this means I struggle with maintaining a nice steady contact.  Cupid being young and off the track is still getting being ridden with contact, and I am not helping him if I am not being consistent.  So I am trying to lunge him more often, and in side reins.  I hadn't been lunging him since his rehab since I thought it was kind of boring, and Cupid tends to be pretty lazy on the lunge so it's hard to keep him going.  So I was surprised to find Cupid has actually been quite good on the lunge and it hasn't been a struggle keeping him going or getting him to canter.  Maybe partially because he's just further along in training, and also last fall he was probably in a little discomfort which seems better now.  So, yay!  The side reins are still loose.  The first time I tried asking Cupid to canter he picked it up right away, but then I think the side reins were bugging him and he was trying to get out of it.  The second time he wasn't bothered at all and just cantered nicely.
 Our lessons have been going very well, and we are starting to work towards jumping!  Usually we start by trotting over a line of poles.  Then on the last one we put up one end on a standard into a half x and go over that a few times, before putting up the other half of the x.  Cupid usually just trots over, though he occasionally will do a little jump over.  The first few times over the x he tried to dodge it, even though it wasn't any higher than the cavaletti he's done.  But by the second lesson he was going over much straighter and not trying to run out.  I am happy that he stays relaxed and doesn't try to rush.

The canter work has also been going well and Cupid is getting better about his left lead.  One day when I was lunging him he only wanted to do left lead, even going to the right!  We had one incident where we were on the left lead and I kind of let him take control, he was a little quick and I just stop guiding him after I wasn't sure if we would make a turn inside a jump standard.  Cupid was headed straight towards a pile of poles and other stuff in the middle of the arena, I didn't even have time to think, and he just leaped over it!  Then I sat up and collected my reins and reminded him I'm the pilot and he responded right away.  The great thing about Cupid is even when he's "bad" (usually really my fault) he doesn't really do that much.  Our trainer agrees that he is a really sweet horse that tries hard.