Monday, January 25, 2016

If the Shoe Fits...

The mud has continued to be horrible, and resulted in Cupid losing a shoe out in the pasture.  I put on my rubber boots and tried to find it, but no luck.  Unfortunately it took my farrier a full week to make it out, so Cupid and I have been taking it easy.

On Monday I still had my lesson, with an easy boot on.  Since I knew we wouldn't be jumping I thought I'd put my dressage saddle on.  I am still not very used to that style and need a lot of work!  So it was very useful even just staying at walk/trot.  My trainer had me warm up with my feet out of the stirrups, so when I put them back in they didn't feel quite so long.  But I still have a tendency to let my heels creep up, and my leg slide back.  Plus I hover over the saddle instead of sitting on my seatbones.  Even with the easy boot my trainer said I need to make sure Cupid is moving forward, and it's getting easier.
Easy boot

Cupid got Tuesday and Wednesday off, figured we'd take it easy with the shoe missing.  On Sunday the hoof looked really good, the shoe came off clean, but after a few days it was starting to chip a little. :(

On Thursday we had another lesson, similar to Monday.  We also worked a little on leg yielding. 

Still no shoe Friday and Saturday.  I was still going to do a light ride on Saturday but I couldn't get the easy boot to latch.  Sunday I was very sad to see still no shoe, because it was my birthday and I really wanted to ride Cupid.  I figured out how to fix the easy boot, and we just did a walk around the property trying to avoid the worst of the mud.

Monday morning I got a call from the farrier saying his assistant was "on his way."  Just in time for my lesson I thought!  I started grooming Cupid expecting the shoer to show up any minute, but 10 minutes before lesson time still no sign of him.  I put Cupid in the cross ties and put his saddle on, and texted my trainer letting her know the situation.  My trainer arrived and we were waiting in the barn.  Twenty minutes later still no shoer!  I suggested that maybe we just lunge today.  So put the easy boot on, and did a little lunge lesson.  Cupid was actually much less lazy than usual on the lunge, though our trainer still said we need a little more energy and showed me some techniques.  After I untacked Cupid the farrier finally arrived, so we should be good to go.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Moving Forward

Cupid and I have started working with our new trainer, and even though I'll miss the previous one we were lucky to find someone with a similar philosophy, and who is both knowledgeable and patient.  Plus it is nice getting a fresh perspective.  She quickly identified the things we need to work on (with my position as well as getting Cupid more on the bit and forward), which are the same things my old trainer was focusing on. 

Our first two sessions were flatwork only, and being "forward" as well as transitions were the main focus (between as well as within gaits).  We did an exercise where we were trotting around the arena and before each corner I was so shorten Cupid's stride, then after the turn get his trot as big as possible until the next corner.  "As big as possible" is still not very big for us, but we are working on it, at least there is some sort of distinction.  We tried it at a canter too but it didn't go quite so well.  I think I need to get a little more quiet and correct in my seat first to get more effective at this.  We also worked a little on turn on forehand.

In our third session we started off with flatwork similar to what we've been doing.  Then our trainer put down a pole.  My job was to make sure Cupid was going forward and straight, and not cut the turn before or after.  We trotted through a few times.  Then she added a second pole, then a third, playing a little with Cupid's stride.  Cupid was being pretty careful and did a good job navigating the poles.  Then we did a little cross rail, still working on being forward and straight.  We trotted into the jump, and my trainer told me we should be cantering when we land; trotting out of the jump means Cupid is behind my leg.  I've always let him trot out if he wants (or canter if he wants as long as he's not rushing, which he hasn't in a long time), but if he landed trotting then I needed to ask for the canter. 

Cupid was sleepy after our lesson

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lost in the Fog

This past weekend I had my final lesson with my trainer, and it was bittersweet. :(  But I am thankful I was able to work with him for the past year and happy with the progress Cupid and I have made.
It was a very foggy day, even in the covered arena the fog was pretty thick.  I was a little leery at first because I couldn't see very far ahead and wasn't sure if I wanted to jump!  But my trainer assured me Cupid would take care of it.  And Cupid seemed to be his normal (wonderful, if slightly lazy) self.  So after we did some walk, trot, and canter to warm up we did a few crossrails.  Then we moved on to a little grid, not nearly as high as last time.  I'm finally not totally terrified of them!  Cupid has been really good lately and hasn't rushed in a while.  In theory the grid is supposed to be easier for both of us, and allow me to concentrate a little more on my position - not standing straight up, sinking into my heels and lot letting my legs slide back or fly up off his side, and keep my hands closed and release forward.  There's so many things to remember!  I'm getting better but still need to work on it.
Grid - one stride, one stride

Then my trainer set up some interesting skinny jumps.  I was thinking about how Cupid ran out last time, so asked if we could just trot through it a few times first with no jump.  Cupid seemed okay, so we jumped both the barrel and the mounting block!  (Turns out it's a little easier to jump, because then my feet are above the vertical barrels and I don't have to worry about hitting them!)  We went around in a circle alternating which one we jumped. 
Skinnies - mounting block and barrel

The pasture is pretty wet, and though I worry about Cupid sliding around and hurting himself I also don't think he's happy standing in his stall all day.  His blanket is disgusting, I need to wash it very soon!
Lost in the fog

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Happy new year!  We are expecting rain pretty much all week, but at least it isn't quite so cold.  Today I just did a quick bareback ride before work, I thought I got lucky in between showers but ended up getting a little wet.  Oh well, Cupid and I had fun.

In our first lesson last week we worked on a skinny jump.  After warming up over a few crossrails, I pointed Cupid towards the narrow little vertical at a trot, and he ran out to the left.  It caught me by surprise, I didn't think he would have a problem with it.  I circled him around and the same thing happened, this time I blamed myself because I should have expected it and held him straight.  So our trainer took the pole down and we trotted between the standards a few times.  Then Cupid jumped the skinny.  We did from both directions and alternated turning left and right after the jump.  Then we did a little course, not including the skinny.

At the end of our lesson my trainer said next time we will jump 3' and I thought/hoped he was joking.  But at the start of our second lesson he said let's see how high we can jump.  Right now I think Cupid's capability exceeds my comfort level, he could jump 3' but I'm still nervous! 

We started out with a little grid: pole to half an X, bounce to a vertical, and one stride to a small oxer.  In the past I've been leery of grids because I feel like the jumps come up too fast, and I'm worried if something goes wrong on the first one it will be a disaster further down!  But over the year I've started getting more comfortable with them, and also my trust in Cupid has increased a lot as I've been able to depend on him to get us through tricky spots.  I tried to focus on having Cupid at a nice pace heading into the grid, and then on sinking into my heels and letting his jump naturally bend me at the waist instead of throwing myself.  I also need to work on keeping my fingers closed and following with my hands.  I did drop the reins a few times, which I think is better than grabbing him in the mouth but something I need to focus on.  And also keeping him straight as we tend to drift left.  So, lots to remember!  The grid was set at kind of a diagonal, so depending on which way we turned it was a little tight either coming into or out of it.  But Cupid was nice and relaxed.

Sadly we only have one lesson left with our trainer as he won't be teaching at my barn anymore. :(  He has helped Cupid and I improve a lot over the past year and I'll miss him.  We learned a lot and I really appreciated his patience with me.