Thursday, April 30, 2015

Time Off

Cupid and I diligently did lot of lunging while our trainer was gone.  We also worked on our circles, riding through the corners, soft canter transitions, and yielding the haunches.  We were to have our first lesson back yesterday, but as I was walking Cupid to the arena I thought he looked stiff.  It was a cold drizzly morning so I thought he would work out of it.  He seemed okay at the walk, but as soon as I asked him to trot he was head bobbing lame.  So, end of lesson.  Nothing too obvious, his right front knee felt a little warm so I cold hosed it (and the other knee and his shoulders as well just in case.)  I went back in the evening and he was already walking much better.  I'm sure he was actually hurting, but I think he may be the type of horse that does overreact a little.  Which is both good and bad!  I will be gone at a conference so he was going to get a few days off anyhow, though if he looks okay I may give him a light right tomorrow before I go.

When I first got Cupid he was not very interested in grass, or just too well mannered to try while he was being led.  Now he doesn't let anything stop him!  He will go up or down steep hillsides, through brambles, over branches and logs, or anything else in his path!  Sometimes I think he may be part goat.  He also loves to eat moss off trees, and I'm pretty sure he was eating part of a rose bush.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Cupid and I have are having a bit of a break between lessons since our trainer is away.  I asked him what we should work on in the meantime, and much to my dismay he said more longing.  He thinks I should lunge every time before I ride, but I'm kind of lazy.  Plus so much gear!  Lunge line, side reins, and whip for lunging, then also have to haul up the martingale and crop for riding - my gear is by the pasture which is a long walk from the arena!  But anyways I'm trying to be a good student and following instructions.  So far we just lunged on Tuesday, lunged and rode on Wednesday, and today I didn't lunge before I rode because I was a little pressed for time before work. 

The side reins are now where Cupid can actually feel them.  The first time I asked him to canter I was afraid he was going to flip himself over.  He tried running out but I held the line, so he stopped with his nose as high in the air as he could get it.  Luckily he's getting used to it and doing much better now, he doesn't like it but now will canter quietly.  Here's a little series to show his progression: October 2014, February 2015, and April 2015 (first 2 photos flipped for easier comparison).

We've also been working on our canter transitions (which are getting much better), yielding haunches (making progress, I think today he finally understood what I wanted him to do), and haunches in (this one still needs a lot of work).

Monday, April 20, 2015


Cupid and I had 4 lessons last week, and he was very good throughout the week. We had our first bounce exercise - three jumps set so there is stride in between. Cupid figured it out right away! He has been relaxed going into jumps, not rushing. We also played with coming into a jump from different directions/angles. Since Cupid has been so good I've been trying to focus on some things I need to work on - sitting up straighter going into the jump, not jumping ahead, keeping my legs from swinging back, and not pushing my hands down. Yes I have a lot of things I need to work on!

The flatwork has been going good as well. We are managing to get the correct canter leads both directions most of the time and are working on improving the transition. I'm working on making sure I'm more relaxed myself, when I get tense I squeeze my things and pitch forward. It can be a vicious cycle when Cupid starts getting a little fussy I tense up, which makes him more tense and so on. I've found that a long slow exhale helps me a lot.
The weather has been nice and Cupid is shedding his winter coat. He got a bath on Saturday. I don't think he's going to be as dark as he was last year, since he lives outside now. Since we worked so hard this week on Sunday we took it easy and went on a little trail ride. He was perfect.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

More Jumping

Cupid and I are doing pretty well in our jumping. Right now we are working on trotting quietly into jumps. He likes to pick up a canter before a jump, our trainer says because he wants to use the momentum to get over instead of pushing off his hind so my job is to hold him to a trot, but keep him forward enough to jump. And of course keep him straight before and after the jump. We are trying, and I think making progress. We tried some new jumps today, including a rolltop and fake wall, as well as the plastic barrels we've done before. We jumped everything in this picture, I think they were about 2'-2'3".
Cupid did try to run out. He's sneaky, he used to always go left (so that's where I usually have my crop) but today he went right. But we got it, and ended the session with a nice jump over the wall. I need to work on sitting up straighter as I tend to lean forward. We have another lesson tomorrow, probably will focus on our flatwork.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Clean Bill of Health

Cupid had his biannual visit with the vet last week for vaccines and a wellness check. The vet measured Cupid at 15.2 hands and just under 900 pounds. I think he's grown over an inch since I got him! We checked his teeth, no sharp edges but he has some canines erupting. The bit doesn't affect this, but the vet said this may make his mouth a little sore and may cause some fussiness. The vet also watched did flexion tests and watched him W/T/C on the lunge to see how his stifles are. The vet thought it looked good, just keep strengthening it with lots of long trots (straight lines, up slight grades if possible) and trot poles/cavaletti.

Cupid has been back to his usual easy going self. Our trainer says he's happy as long as I let him plod around but gets a little attitude if I ask him to actually work. Hah. We've been jumping a single cross rail on a figure eight along the short side of the arena, trotting in and back to a trot before we reach the wall after the jump. Cupid has been very calm and hasn't tried to take off. Today we worked on getting Cupid to really bend inside on a circle. He does not like this exercise.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Equipment Change

Luckily Cupid's spring fever seems to be going away. He was a good boy the last few rides and hasn't tried running away with me. It's probably a coincidence but Cupid's one win on the racetrack came in the month of March, with thirds in February and April, so it may be possible that he does tend to feel fresh this time of year. Nonetheless we went ahead with an equipment change adding a flash noseband and running martingale, which actually our trainer had suggested a while back before the bolting even began. I was a little disappointed at first because I felt like this was a reflection of my poor riding. Also I like to keep it as simple as possible. But since I've had Cupid he has been a bit fussy with his head, both throwing it up and gaping his mouth open.

We have been keeping our canters very short, and he has been good about coming back to a trot. I am still working on trying to ride off the outside rein, something I never really learned in my past 20 years of riding! Our baby leg yields and shoulders-in are going well at the walk, we still need more work doing it at the trot and also on haunches-in. It is a lot harder trying to control his hind end! Today we did a little canter to the right, and it went pretty well. We changed direction, and Cupid got pretty upset/fussy when I was just trotting in a large circle. I didn't even ask for the canter since he was not relaxed. If I let him trot around the whole arena with a little more rein he was happy, but as soon as I got him on the circle up went the head. I tried to get him to relax but wasn't having much success. So we started trotting around the whole arena again and he was happy. The trainer told me to circle him on the other end, and he was a little edgy but much better. We did a few canter circles at the left on the other end, and called it quits on that. At first I thought it was a pain response, but since one side of the arena (same direction) was a lot worst I'm not sure if it was a mental thing? In any event the vet is coming out tomorrow to give him his vaccines so I'll make sure his teeth are checked as well as a quick check-up on his stifles.