Monday, May 11, 2020

Something in the Air

This Sunday, neither Cupid nor the Soloshot were being fully cooperative!  Cupid has been going beautifully in the outdoor arena recently, but yesterday he acted like he's never been there before.  I knew as soon as I led him in that it might be one of those days.  I did some brief in hand work before getting on, though really not enough for it to help relax him.

I got on and started walking, trying to give him things to do while avoiding the spookiest area (the long side around B).  After about 10 minutes I got him trotting on a circle in the far end, which tends to be the least spooky area.  He was pretty tense throughout, especially on the quarter of the circle closest to the scary side so I tried to do smaller circles before we hit that to keep his attention on me.  He was very tense and tight, so mostly I was just trying to get him moving forward.

He did once respond to my leg by kicking out, but I mostly ignored that pissy moment.

I continued avoiding around B, so I would ride down the opposite long side, turn onto the centerline at C and angle back to K, or do shallow loops or other figures trying to avoid the spooky side.

We did a little cantering also on a circle at A.  Cupid rushed a bit, so I just tried to remind myself to keep sitting back like I've been doing.

Finally we walked down the spooky side, at first halting a few times.  Cupid had his head up high and was looking around, but at least walked straight.  Then we walked down it without stopping, with a bit of shoulder fore to the inside.  Then when he trotted straight down, I decided to do a quick stretchy trot and end it on a semi-good note.

It can be a bit frustrating, he's been so good out there I thought we were finally over this.  But later when I told my friend who boards at the same barn, she said her horse was pretty up on Sunday too (though she didn't ride in that arena), so maybe it was just something in the air! 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Shoulders Over Hips

After being able to watch more videos of myself ride, I'm starting to think it's a wonder I can walk upright because I certainly seem incapable while riding!  So my motto has become "shoulders over hips."  Having the Soloshot footage has been very helpful.  In my mind it can feel like I'm leaning way way back, about to lay on Cupid's rump, but then when I see the video I'm in a pretty good position, so I've been trying to get used to that feeling.

We've been playing a little with leg yield.

I finally had my first lesson in almost 2 months today, and my coach agreed that I've made progress which was great to hear.  She also said Cupid has gotten a bit more consistent in the contact, and she thinks we are each on the verge of a major breakthrough to take the next step forward!

Now that I'm starting to get that under control, I want to focus on my elbows and hands next, and then on sinking into my heels.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

First Level Virtual Debut

Trying to film a First Level test to submit to Amelia Newcomb for review was a bit of a comedy of errors.  One day I was setting up the Soloshot only to have it not turn on... because I forgot to charge it.  Another day I rode the test but ... forgot to turn it on somehow?  I think there was another botched attempt, perhaps the dressage court wasn't available.  And when we finally got it, the boards and letters were not up so I had to guestimate and asked Amelia to excuse the imperfect geometry.  Plus I think I was sure it would get messed up again somehow so my turnout was not very sharp.  I was tempted to re-ride it and try to do better, but I decided to go with a more show-like scenario, and even though it wasn't our best effort ever it was a pretty fair representation of where we're at. 

Amelia was as always very positive and supportive.  She praised our harmony and relaxation.  (Yes, finally Cupid has been very relaxed in the outdoor arena... too relaxed sometimes!)  
Harmonious overall... small spook notwithstanding
The biggest thing she said we need to work on is that we show noticeably less bend through the body to the left.  She suggested incorporating some in-hand work.

10 meter half circle to the left
Other areas for improvement she said were to continue improving using his topline, push for more in the lengthenings, and work on transitions.  Her suggestions included riding lots of circles and serpentines, adding some lunging with side reins, and getting him to stretch down and reach for the bit.

Bad transition, trot to canter
Canter, left lead
Our first halt was decidedly not square
The second halt was better
Lengthening in the trot
Stretch circle
So we're not quite ready for a real show, and who knows when that might even be.  But it was fun and helpful preparing a test ride and getting some feedback.  Here is the link for the full test:

Friday, April 24, 2020

Soloshot in a Covered Arena

I ordered my Soloshot with full knowledge that it may not work in a covered arena based on things I've read, and just wanted to share my experience in case it helps anyone else considering the purchase.

Our covered arena is I think approx. 100x200 feet.  It is a steel structure, open on two adjacent sides and with metal siding on the other two.  Additionally there are several large cypress tress around it.  My phone generally works, though I don't use it in the arena enough to know if there are dead spots. 

Since my expectations were low (ie. I didn't think it would track at all) I was pleasantly surprised that it was able to follow me about 2/3 of my ride.  I rode for about half an hour and in all areas of the arena.  I had the camera a few feet outside it on the open long side (behind the F marker for dressage), not directly under a tree but there were trees several feet behind it.  It seems like it tended to lose me around A (an open side), and the corner between C&M (which is paneled on the short side but open on the long side), but not always.

Here's a link to a clip where it isn't tracking very successfully:

Here's another clip, where it's more successful (aside from my camera placement issue with the supports in the way!):

As you can see from the clips, it was a gray and foggy day.  The arena lights are on, but videoing in there is generally always challenging with the lighting.  I'm not sure if I can set a preference on how much I want it to zoom.  I wouldn't mind it zooming a bit closer. 

Screenshot - Soloshot tracking in covered arena
So my overall assessment is, the Soloshot did do better then I expected, since I didn't think it would track at all.  The overall quality is sufficient to provide some helpful feedback (taking into account the poor lighting in this arena, which is a problem with most cameras).  However, I don't think it's really ideal if you want to use for doing lessons remotely.  I haven't tried a Pixio personally, but based on my understanding that would probably work better for that purpose.

Here's another clip (bonus jumping footage!) with the Soloshot set stationary.  This is a sunnier day, with no lights on.

Screenshot - Soloshot stationary over wall
Screenshot - Solosho stationary over coop

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Since we haven't had a lesson in a month now, I decided to do the next best thing and get a Soloshot camera!  I was debating between Soloshot and Pixio and ended up going with a Soloshot even though it may not be able to track in our covered arena.  I haven't tried it yet - I used it once just stationary on a dim and very foggy day and the quality was actually better then I expected.  But since our outdoor is finally open again I've been riding out there. 

The first time I tried it I was a bit horrified by what I saw, and since then I've been doing part of each ride with a German martingale.  I put it on after I warm up, do about 15 minutes of my typical trot and canter work with it, and then take it off and try to keep the same feel for another 15 minutes or so. 

Here are some bad still shots, taken from my camera phone photographing the video playing on my laptop because I'm very high tech like that.

Covid Cowgirl
So it should come as no surprise that I'm stumbling into all the possible user errors.  2 out of the first 3 times I took the camera to the barn I hadn't charged it.  And I've missed [key] portions of my ride accidentally turning it off.  Like today I thought I paused it while I was taking the martingale off but I guess I just stopped it and didn't turn it back on.  As I rode through my dressage test that I was thinking of submitting for my First Level review with Amelia Newcomb.  Yeah, real smart.  I guess we'll call it a dress rehearsal.  Luckily we didn't have like the best ride ever, but I figured it was an accurate representation of where we are now so I was planning to use it and get feedback on the bad along with the good.

I'll have to add some video clips once I get around to trimming them small enough to upload.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Armchair Detectives Needed

I noticed a bit of a rub mark on Cupid behind his shoulders, even on both sides.  It's just broken/rubbed hairs, not down to the skin.  Any ideas what's causing this??

Here is some background info:

-He is currently still shedding, though almost through.
-Since it's even on both sides I don't think it's from riding / my legs (??)
-He has been wearing a rain sheet in turnout.  We have 2 we rotate.  But it's in more a concave area, so I'm not sure it's from that.  He has gotten blanket rubs in the past more on his chest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Things have been going well enough, nothing really interesting to share and just a general lack of motivation on my part to write.  (Plus it's hard getting on the computer with a baby around, he insists on joining me and pressing all the buttons.  So it's hard enough to just try to get my work done.)

We are preparing for our virtual First Level debut for Amelia.  We even got to go out to the dressage court last week when there was a break in the rain, though the boards weren't up.  And Cupid acted like he's never been out there before so we didn't really work on the test just on getting him to work through the distractions!  The footing had been packed and was still a bit hard, so I hadn't planned on cantering but he was full of go so we did end up cantering.  It took about 40 minutes until he finally trotted down the long side without trying to scoot away, so we ended on that.
When the weather is nice we've been enjoying walking around the property.   It's a nice way to warm up before going in the arena.

I haven't lunged Cupid in a while, but on a particularly wet