Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Catching Up

I know it's been a while since my last post...everything has been a bit crazy around here! The IHSA list came out and I am on the traveling (basically like varsity) competition team, which is super sweet! We've had two practices so far and both went really well! I'm very excited for our show season to start :) We kick off next month with an OSU show in October, followed by a home show here in November.

Other than that, riding at school has been going really well. The "post summer butterflies" seem to have abadoned me (thank god!) thanks to a very gracious man and his fabulous jumper mare. (I didn't read though my previous posts before writing this, so I don't know if I wrote about riding April or not...but in case I didn't here is the story: C and I went riding at a local trainers barn because he had hurt his back and I schooled his jumper mare over a 3'3" coarse and it just totally was what I needed to get out of my little jumping funk that I was in.) Today in my hunters class I rode Hawk, who used to show in the working hunters on the A-circut before he got donated to LEC. He's a great boy, but slightly tempermental and definetly can get a little pushy when he wants to. I've only ridden him once before (last year) and he basically dragged me around a jump coarse...needless to say I was interested to see how this ride was going to go. Wouldn't you believe that I actually rode him really well? My riding style has changed so much since last year...even M said something to me after class (our final exercise was a set of working trot poles on the short side (in two point) to a once stride (cross rail to vertical) on the quarter line to a three stride (oxer), lead change, then collected canter up the other quarter line to a set of three short bounce poles, then around to a vertical on the diagnol with a lead change after) Hawk and I had a little trouble getting the bounce poles (his avasion to collection is to be laterally incorrect) but after the third try we nailed it and afterwards M said "A million times better Kate!" she said "the old Kate would have just pulled him to the base of the vertical after it fell apart over the bounces, but you didn't do that at all...you sat up and you fixed it and got a beautiful jump with a clean lead change after...and Hawk HATES his right to left lead change."

Just hearing that made me feel so great! I was really proud of myself. I've always LOVED jumping for after my accident with Emmy I found myself to actually be a little fearful sometimes, something I had never experienced before. I wasn't thinking when I was doing a jump coarse, I was just praying that I didn't screw up. I'm happy to be out of that little funk!

Johnny has also been FABULOUS since coming to school. E has been really enjoying him and today we did some over fences work with him too. Not only did he jump his first one-stride, but he landed the canter in between the jumps on his BAD LEAD and then continued to canter on the bad lead after the second jump! I was so pleased! Multiple times he landed it perfectly! After that I had Erin canter him to a vertical on the diagnol with some flowers underneith it. They looked GREAT jumping together and E really rode him well. Johnny looked beautiful over the jump...he just has the best facial expression and his knees are getting quite tight and tidy. K got it just right the first time she watching him go...he is just so classically beautiful.

Oh, AND a complete stranger saw him the other day while E was riding and came up to ask me what he was. When I told her "Standardbred" was was like "Really?! He doesn't look it at all...he's got the most beautiful head...he's gorgeous!" I thanked her and told her how excited I was to hear that. He's really starting to fill out and look like a "real" horse! yay!

Thursday K is coming to do a lesson and work on his right lead. He actually canters on it just fine...he's just having a hard time associating the cue with the actual canter departure now that he's in a flat ring with real footing instead of a field. Hopefully K will have some better insight into a good way to re-teach him...I'm kind of running out of ideas.

Thats all for now!


E and Johnny today after their ride :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Johnny hasnt been ridden a whole lot lately. His stifle was a little out of whack the other day so we've been giving him some time off to let him rest and see what happens. I'm not sure about what kind of problem, if any he might be having but I think that maybe he just has weak stifles. E and I are going to see how he is today and modify his work load accorindly. More later!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Up and Over

Johnny jumped his first oxer yesterday! He handled it really well, but it definetly caught him off guard! E was riding him again so that I could set the jumps and he trotted up to it (it was just a small cross-rail oxer) and as his front feet left the ground you could see his head uck as he looked at the jump and was like "wooooaaahhhh WHAT is that?" but he jumped it really nicely :) E hpped him over it a few times in both directions and we called it a day. He was super good! I have a lesson on him with my trainer on Thursday at 5pm. Hopefully we can work on his right lead canter some more...it's gone away a bit since he began working in a real arena.

In other news, C and I went over the A's barn today to school some horses for him since he threw his back out the other day. C rode a grey mare named Siren and I rode A's jumper April. It was so much fun!! Siren is pretty green, but C schooled her really well. We warmed up on the flat and then started over a big cross-rail and just kept adding jumps until we had a little coarse. We started up a single on the quarter line, down over a single on the diaganol to an outside single and then around to a 2 stride in and out (vertical to oxer) to finish up. April is a really nice jumper...she did the medals and the big jumpers (like 4'9" or something) and is SUPER fun to jump! We started around 2'6" and A put the jumps up until we were going 3'3". It was SOOO FUNNNN!! I can't remember the last time that I was jumping fences that size and actually enjoying myself...something I haven't really felt in years. Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE jumping, but on a horse that I don't know, I sometimes get a little wiggy (I crashed my hunter mare at 3'3" almost 4 years ago and we both got injured pretty bad...it ended her 3' career) so to be on a horse like April was such a blessing. I kept asking A to raise the jumps, and raise the jumps, and raise the jumps...it was a brilliant feeling!

Tomorrow morning I'm going out to see and ride Johnny :) Yay!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hunter??? Maybe??

So Johnny was absolutly AMAZING today...the BEST I've EVER seen him move. E rode him and I gave them a lesson and we worked on a lot of leg yeild and shoulder in with him. He was moving sooooo well after loosening up his shoulders...it was unbelieveable. Like a totally different horse than the one I got out of a field just four months ago. He was relaxed and happy with his ears flopping forwad and sideways with each stride. For the first time he didn't look worried at all...he looked like he was enjoying himself. He was blowing softly and mouthing at the bit. It was seriously beautiful. Even today he wanted to stretch down and he had such a beautiful pace, stride length and self carraige that I found myself thinking "You know what....I would actually LOOK at this horse in the hunter ring! He's a little fancy!"

Yesterday I jumped him too and he was (once again) magnificent! We jumped out of the trot and canter and found perfect distances to every fence, plus John held his pace before and after the fence :) He's just so much FUN to jump...and because he doesn't jump SUPER round he doesn't jump you out of the tack and your eq stays nice!

Maybe he might make a hunter after all :)

Just a quick update for now!


Friday, September 4, 2009

Getting Back to Basics

"There are a few basics that all hunters must be able to do." M told us, standing in the middle of a semi-circle of horses on the hunt field during our hunter class. "They must have woah, go, left and right. They must be able to hack out in a group, or leave the group and go off on their own. Everything else is show business in the middle. These are the basics."

It seems so simple when you think about it and if asked, most people would probably say "sure, my horse has all of those things..." but does he really? If your chips in to a jump because he was pulling down the line, then "woah" hasn't been properly established. If he gets lazy and leaves long, then there isn't enough "go." If he gets excited while cantering in a group, then he doesn't hack in company and if he pins his ears back and kicks out when asked to leave the group, then he isn't independent of the herd and listening to his rider. What if he bulges through your outside rein in a dressage test? Then you don't have lateral control of left and right.

Almost any "problem" with horses can be traced back to these 4 simple basics and we explored those basics on Thursday in my hunter class by taking the horses out to the hunt field and asking them to perform certain actions. We established reliability in the group by having a good forward canter out in a big circle around the field. Our objective was to keep our horses in a forward hack canter while still keeping them quiet. The goal was to maintain self carraige on a looped rein over varied terrain without our mounts getting excited. I rode a chestnut TB named Cruz again and he proved to be quite good in the company of other horses. After that, M took us over to the cross country hills and banks and had us start by walking our horses up the hill, then trotting up and trotting down, and finally cantering up one side and walking down the other before turning around to trot back up and down again. This tested our horses ability to leave the group and their responsiveness to our leg, seat and reins. Cruz was really great, except that he wanted to canter back down the hill instead of trot, which reflects his ring manner...his tendancy to get above the bit instead of breaking at the poll. After that we got to jump our horses down a little bank, which was SUPER fun and reminded me of my eventing days :) I've got some great pictures from the lesson...which I will post below. It was such a fun learning experience!!

I applied a lot of these basics to Johnny today. E rode him in the indoor for the first time and he was EXCELLENT. I hacked him yesterday in the outdoor ring and also had a fabulous ride on him. We worked on tempo (woah vs. go) over trot poles, followed by a small x rail with two placing poles (take off and landing rails rolled out 9ft from the fence) which worked on his straightness (left and right...he has a tendancy to duck out on the poles when he is unsure) However he finished off the jumping BEAUTIFULLY and got perfect striding between the poles and the jump. To finish off the lesson I had E work on his canter by just keeping him going to get a consitant tempo (we still drift between 3 and 4 beats sometimes) They had some really nice moments!

Here are the photos from my riding class on Cruz:

cantering around the field

cantering up the hill...

...and down the bank!

Hopefully getting some pictures of Johnny soon!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Johnny Goes to School

Johnny made the trip up to school yesterday evening. My best friend C came and picked him up from his home barn. The farrier had come in the afternoon to pull Emmy's shoes and put fronts on Johnny...I think both of the horses were really confused. Emmy hasn't gone barefoot in about 7 years (I expect her to be pretty lame at first) and Johnny hasn't had shoes in probably just as long. S did a FANTASTIC job with John's feet though. He walks funny, so the medial to lateral balance in his foot is all wrong. S used his special expoxy (I forget exactly what it's called...but he used to scuplt Emmy's feet with it all the time haha) to build up the inside of John's front hooves so that the shoe would sit level on his foot. It's a little bit like a cross between art and carpentry I think...the entire inside branch of his foot is fake now, but it looks amazing...his feet have never looked so good!!!

After we loaded up John's stuff, I said goodbye to Emmy (who seemed a little angry with me) we put John in the trailer. He rode well all the way up and was quite curious when we let him off at the new farm. His stall has a window that overlooks the driveway and the pastures, which I think he really likes. He likes to watch the people come and go :) E and I turned him out in the indoor while we moved the 4 jumps that I had brought into the arena. I figured it was probably good for him to just walk around in there and check the place out...he's never really been indoors before. The arena is large and beautiful with good footing. John was a little afraid of the doors at first, he kind of walked sideways around then, but when he realized that he could stick his head over the gates he was happy as a clam. I wanted so badly to put him out in the big grass field, but there was another horse out there and I didn't know the owner. Today he will get to go out :)

In other news, I have my IHSA tryout tonight and I'm very nervous. I don't even know why except to say that I had a tougher time yesterday in my Hunter class and now am feeling some self doubt. I know that I'm a good eq rider...but right now I feel totally out of practice.

More later to update on IHSA and John