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.

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,
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.