Monday, October 29, 2018


Cupid appears to be feeling good, and back to normal.  I've still been keeping the cantering to a minimum, but he has felt comfortable and not acted cranky about it.  I lunged him a few days ago and he picked up the left lead correct all three times I asked. 

What he have been struggling a bit with is him being behind my leg - which is part of the reason why we haven't been cantering as much, because I don't want to practice sloppy transitions where I have to chase him into it.  Usually he's good about midway through a ride, but it starts out pretty poky.  The weather has been quite warm, and Cupid hasn't been clipped so I think that contributes to it but of course is not an excuse.  So I'm trying to be more clear about expectations and not settle for less, and make sure that starts during warm up.  Part of that is just intent on my part (I get lazy too!), making sure I'm not blocking him with my seat, and being firm when needed instead of just nagging throughout.  Transitions within gaits and leg yielding are good exercise to get him listening.
Enjoying some sunshine and what's left of the grass
Lessons have been going well, and have been primarily focused on increasing our connection.  My trainer has been focusing on making sure I don't let my reins get too long - check each time we change direction or increase bend.  Cupid isn't resistant, the last week or so he's felt amazing and light and responsive.  But it still feels a bit foreign to me after 20+ years riding on a longer rein, like I'm water skiing on his face, but I'm trying! 

We've been doing a lot of 20 meter circle with 10 meter half circles inside to change direction.  We've also been doing a 20 meter circle, with a 10 meter circle to the inside, then shoulder fore coming out of the smaller circle a few steps, then straighten a bit and increase the trot.  We've also been doing a 3 loop serpentine with a 10 meter circle figure-8 as we cross the centerline.  All this at the trot - like I said we've been doing a lot of trotwork!  Cupid's work ethic has been super lately, once we get warmed up anyways.  He likes to figure out what we're doing and seems quite keen to get it right, so I just need to be clear and consistent!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Semi-Update, and more WE Show Photos

Cupid has seemed slightly better our last few works, but we also took it a bit easy so it's kind of hard to say.  We had lessons on Friday and Sunday, where I started warmed him up at the walk and trot, then got off and he cantered on the lunge line, then I got back on and finished with trot work.  Both days he was a bit lazy to start, so I focused on being more forward in the warm up portion.  Friday he was inconsistent with the left lead on the lunge, but was much better on Sunday.   I didn't have side reins on him, and he looked much happier without them.  However on Sunday cantering to the right he did twist his head a bit - I was using a caveson and had the line clipped over his nose so it wasn't related to the bit or uneven pressure.  

After the lunge portion he usually has more energy, and we've had some really great trot work.  I don't know if the lunging is helpful for him to loosen up a bit?  I'm not a huge fan of lunging because doing that many small-ish circles seems hard on them so I don't do it very often, but right now it is seeming to help.  ??? 

In between lesson days we went for a nice hack around the property, bareback.

Some photos from the working equitation schooling show.

Not very dressage-y, sigh.
No I shouldn't have to lean this far to get it - that is just bad form!
Medieval times

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It's a Puzzle

Cupid got a shoe back on, and I decided to longe him to see how he looks.  Honestly I'm at a bit of a loss because he has been going super well most of the time, but there is something bothering him.  I've discussed it with the chiropractor and my trainer, who agree that something is not quite right, but it doesn't seem serious and to just use my best judgment.  So I've continued riding, though taking it easy especially with the cantering as he seems totally fine otherwise.  Part of me is hesitant to share this because everyone has different ways of doing things, and I don't want someone to come across this and criticize me for not doing more / something different / for the love of god why are you working that poor obviously lame horse, but this is my journal and this is what we're coping with at the moment.
His favorite frame - aka the anteater

I think I threw too many variables into the equation when I was lunging him, which made the results less clear.  For starters, I used his old loose ring Herm Sprenger, and he chomped on it throughout (which is why I originally switched to just the Myler, but thought I'd give it a try again.)  Then when I put on his balancing reins he was just cranky - not sure if that was body discomfort or just because we haven't used it in a while.  I had it on the longest setting, but he was still unhappy.

We started off without the reins, walking and trotting a bit both directions.  Then put the reins on for some trot and canter, starting at the right.  As I said he was fussy with the reins on, even at the trot and it just got worst at the canter.  Going to the left he was again fussy, but did pick up the left lead correctly each time.  I thought he was short in the left shoulder, but I don't know if I was just seeing that since that's what the chiropractor said. So if anyone wants to play detective, here are some clips (bear in mind it's hard to hold the longe line and whip, while trying to film!)

Walk warm up to the left - he's unmotivated but tracking up.

Trot warm up to the right, without the balancing reins.  His mouth is busy but he's fairly relaxed. 

Trotting to the right after I put the balancing reins on, more fussy. 

Canter to the right, not happy.  (Last time I cantered on him going right he felt quite good, so I don't know if he was just protesting the balancing reins??)

Canter to the left.  No trouble picking up the lead, but not very relaxed.

The next day (today) we had a lesson, and I told my trainer I just wanted to stick to trot work and Cupid felt amazing.  Starting out we made sure we were going forward (when we walk I should be able to ask for a trot any moment!)  When we started trotting on a 20 meter circle to the left Cupid was twisting his head a bit, so my trainer told me to counter-bend a little to get his shoulder back - which I didn't realize he was popping I was just focusing on the head. 

I had a lot of opportunity to work on myself, especially focusing on maintaining proper contact (one of my biggest weaknesses!)  We did a lot of going around a 20 meter circle, with a figure eight (two half 10 meter circle) change of direction through the middle.  We also did a little leg yielding, and transitions.  Honestly Cupid felt great, I just don't know what to think!

Monday, October 15, 2018

That's a Wrap

I said my last show at Greenville was my last show, but I was secretly hoping to go again end of October.  Even though I'm still feeling up for it, Cupid has unfortunately had a few (luckily minor) setbacks so our season really is over.

We had one good day with the left lead last week, but he's still been struggling a bit and on some days been downright cranky about me asking - very unlike him so I figured something must actually be bothering him.  Last week the chiropractor confirmed his left shoulder was very tight.  She worked on it, and recommended 24 hours off and showed me some stretches.  
Poor Cupid :(

Then yesterday I found him missing his right front shoe - again!  Ugh.  I put bell boots on after he lost his shoe for the second time a few weeks ago hoping that would put an end to this, but no such luck.  The pasture has been dry so I'm not sure how he's losing them, I was unable to find the shoe all three times.  I thought with the durasole and biotin we had been doing much better this year, but this is the third time in the last month.  It was the same shoe all three times so I guess the little bit of chipping each time is making it harder to hold the shoe, but his feet didn't look bad.  Having a short back and long legs doesn't help either.  It's just frustrating and I'm sure my shoer hates us! 
Not again!!

Once we get the shoe back on I'm going to continue training a few weeks, and plan to work on the left lead a bit on the longe or long lines.  Then Cupid will get a few weeks off and I'll start thinking ahead about my goals for next year.

Here's a video the day after the WE schooling show.  Even though Cupid has gotten really good about traveling this year and seems quite content being new places, he is always very happy to come home!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Working Equitation Schooling Show

Since the clinic I did some very rudimentary practice with cones and a rope gate (I was too lazy to set up much more), and mostly focused on transitions and memorizing the dressage test.  I went through it a few times in my lesson last week, and my trainer set up a short court which was very helpful since everything comes up so much quicker!  So I wouldn't say I was super prepared, but I felt good enough to go out there and have some fun with it!

The dressage test for intro is just medium walk and working trot, but also has a rein back and five meter half-circles at the walk.  The halts are also supposed to come from the trot with no walk steps, but my plan was to allow minimal walk steps to make it more smooth, though we have started practicing from the trot (thinking ahead to First Level!!) I didn't feel quite ready.  But not having to worry about whether we would get the left lead canter made it a lot less stressful! 

We had a good warm up in the covered arena.  Cupid relaxed pretty quickly, despite the birds in the rafters and the connected stalls.  After walking we trotted around, then got on a 20 meter circle with 10 meter circles both to the inside and outside both directions and finished with a little shoulder-in both on the circle and straight both directions.  We walked outside several minutes before our ride time, and Cupid tensed up, though I'm not sure why.  I got him back in the warm up and did a quick trot, thinking that might be better than trying to get him to stand. 

We entered the arena and I let him walk close by the letters with the pumpkins on them but luckily he didn't seem bothered by them.  He did however spook a little the first time we passed the judge's table at C!  They hadn't run the bell yet though so we had another pass around.

I felt quite good about our test, though of course we need to be rounder.  And my elbows are abhorrent, I cringed when I saw how straight they still are :(  I think I'm just going to have to tie them together behind my back...

Video of our test:
We had a few hours before the obstacle portion (or Ease of Handling as it's actually called in Working Equitation).  I walked Cupid around a bit, but he was pretty content standing by the trailer eating hay.  I was happy to see the same obstacles we practiced with in the clinic, though with a few additional pumpkin decorations by this point I figured wouldn't be a problem. 

A funny note from warm up: Cupid was quite unnerved by a loud leopard appaloosa!  He would tense up every time it was close to him.  It was pretty surprising, I've never seen him react like that to another horse.  He's seen pintos and more roan-type appaloosas, but he didn't seem to know what to make of dalmatian spots.  There was a mule at the show too, which he was totally fine with.  And he's seen cows and minis and donkeys in the past.  Luckily the appaloosa left and we had time to settle back down before we started.  (Though now I don't know what we'll do if we do a rail class in the future and there is a leopard appy in with us!) 

I kept it pretty conservative - down transitions a little early and loops pretty big, but was super happy with how Cupid did!!  The cup on the pole was our worst one again, as we overshot it a bit and had to step back.  We had comments to work on our geometry (not sure if that means circles/loops were uneven or just too big), and more energy at the walk for the ring spear and going through the donut-shape.  But no major mistakes. 

Video of our round:

It was a fun day, and Cupid and I ended up in third place!  I'm definitely interested in doing it again.