Sunday, January 20, 2019

Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys

Neither of my parents were into horses, though my dad had been around some farm horses when he was young.  It was my big sister who got me into riding.  She has always loved all animals, and she wanted to ride and I was just the annoying little sister who wanted to do whatever she was doing!  But I quickly fell in love and horses became a large part of my life.  I miss riding with my sister, since she now lives over an hour away and her horse is retired so she doesn't ride often.

I wonder if my own child will be interested in learning to ride.  I'm okay either way - I would be happy to share my passion, but also fine with him pursuing other (likely less expensive!) things.  I just hope he at least appreciates animals and nature, and has an active lifestyle.  I've taken him to the barn a few times, but he's just slept in the carrier.  Cupid seems slightly interested, and seems to know to be gentle around him, not shoving me with his nose looking for treats like he sometimes does when I'm with the baby. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Week at a Glance

I was excited for my first lesson in over two months.  Unfortunately the weather was not very cooperative, with strong wind and rain, but historically it hasn't been a problem.  And aside from having trouble hearing my trainer, it was great!  One of our best rides yet!  We didn't canter, but had probably my most successful sitting trot ever.

Cupid's trot isn't the easiest to sit so I get in the trap of making his trot very small, almost a jog, to make it easier to sit.  On this day I don't know what the difference was but we had the perfect engaged trot and it just came together.

The exercise was a medium trot on a 20 meter circle, then shoulder in to shorten and sitting trot in a 10 meter circle, and continue back onto the bigger circle until I start to lose it at which point I post and increase back to a medium trot.

My next lesson a week later it took a lot longer to get that same level of engagement and connection.  (If only progress was always linear!)  But we had some nice moments, and I'm actually starting to get the hang of proper contact - I can lightly feel his mouth but don't feel like I'm hanging on his face.  I know it's really basic and I'm kind of embarassed it took this long but I just rode with loopy reins so long anything more felt like pulling.  I am happy with the new Myler level 2 bit.

The canter work felt good, more balanced on the left so more even both sides.  Except I was having some problem with my right leg getting short (usually it's the left!)  In our leg yields Cupid was a bit sticky moving off my left leg, but after a little reinforcement with the whip it got better.  The sitting trot didn't quite come together, but at least I could recognize and try to correct when it started to get a bit jog-ish.  We did transitions between walk and sitting trot.
In a sea of mud
I try to give Cupid variety in his work.  It's a bit harder in the winter when we prinarily stick to the covered arena, though we can do some poles or jumps, in hand work, lungimg or driving to mix it up.  But when the weather allows I try to get him out of the ring.

We did a little bareback ride around the ranch even though it was a bit windy, and Cupid was very good passing by tarps that were rattling, and new piles of wood from a tree that got knocked down in the storm.  But he did have to stop and stare at a blanket on the ground, lol.   Nothing bad, he just thought that doesn't belong there.
That doesn't belong there!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Watch & Learn

I know Cupid would be a lot further along if he had more pro rides, but I take some sort of perverse pleasure in seeing how far I can bring him along (with the support and guidance of my wonderful coach).  However I do occasionally ask her to ride him, both so I can see what he is capable of and so she has a better understanding where he's at and what works for him.  It has been a while, so I thought it would be a good time for her to get on.   We haven't had a lesson for over two months, but I told her Cupid has felt really good since his break and she should feel a big difference since she last rode him. 

Watching my trainer ride did not disappoint, she had Cupid looking great!  She kept it simple, doing the same kinds of exercises I have been working on - except she actually has Cupid connected and coming through.  She wasn't pulling on him, just keeping the contact steady and supporting with leg.  It was quite inspiring, and makes me determined to keep putting the work in so I can get him looking like this too (or at least come closer to it!)  It also made me proud of the progress Cupid has made, and of myself for the part I played in getting him there.
Looking like a real dressage horse!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jumping into 2019

I can't believe it's 2019 already, 2018 went by way too fast!  On January 1 I got to the barn early, and had the arena to myself.  Our last few rides had felt really good, so I decided to ride in my jumping saddle - just start with some flatwork and see where it goes from there.  After a light warm up we started trotting over some poles, throwing in a few halts after.  Then we cantered a circle over a single pole on the right lead.  That felt good, so we trotted into and went through a little grid, coming to a halt after.  Cupid was soft and quiet through the grid, and came to a halt but was a little squirmy holding it for a few seconds. 

My confidence was pretty high, so I picked up the canter and pointed Cupid at the coop jump.  It's only 2', but we haven't jumped it before, nor anything solid in quite a while.  Although I had a moment of doubt a few strides out, I closed my legs and Cupid hit it perfect and smoothly sailed over, and came to a halt when I asked a few strides later!  I was happy with that, so we left the arena and had a nice cool down walk around the property. 

First time over this coop
This was a great way to start the new year, and I'm really excited about continuing our progress! 

Reservoir I pass on my drive to the barn