Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Horse Show Results

Now that the crazy weekend is finally over I've got a little time to update and let everyone know how it went. Saturday at the show was a "C" rated hunter show in which I showed a school horse named Cruz. In his 7 years at the school, Cruz has never once shown in a horse show ever fences. He's kind of a spook...although he's not really afraid of the jumps so much as he just gets tense in the atmosphere of the show. He schooled FANTASTIC Friday night and Saturday morning and then we got around our first trip over fences with one stop to a single oxer (literally we just met it in a half stride...there was no distance at all.) The second trip he was super nervous going to the ring again and as we came down a diagonal someone flung open one of the doors in the corner of the ring and Cruz just had a spaz moment where he literally just stopped and spun. Completely out of the blue...one minute I was on his back and the next minute I was standing next to him holding the reins. I was mad for about 2.5 seconds until he realized what he had done and he dropped his head and his ears flopped sideways. I just had to laugh...he looked so dejected as if to say "I didn't mean it...really..." Out in the warm up ring I got back on and jumper some more jumps to set his mind straight. He was a perfect angel. M wanted to put  him into another class to improve his attitude, but there was nothing else I was eligible for that was at a height he could handle (ex: the Adult Amie's were too high for him...he maxes out around 2'9" and the only other thing lower was a Limit Rider 2ft class and I'm above limit rider and not eligible to compete in that) Oh well. He did try really hard to be good...I mean, it was his FIRST horse show! It could have gone a whole lot worse!

Sunday was jumper day with Johnny. I hauled him over Saturday night after the course change and we schooled the jumps. The ring was like a mad house but it didn't seem to faze him at all. We schooled at the 2'3"-2'6" height even though we were only doing 2'. I didn't actually mean to school him that high...the jumps really didn't look that big until the next day when I was working jump crew after I showed and was moving some boxes going "Omg we JUMPED these??" Anyway, Johnny schooled like a totaly champ despite his ADD in the warm up ring. He even landed his right lead canter and kept going all the way around the ring on it...perfectly balanced! Sunday morning K hauled him over and I elected not to school him again. In hind sight, I probably should have, but I wanted to see how he would handle the whole situation. This was his first jumper show ever and his first REAL course. Like Cruz, Johnny kind of loses it in the show ring. He's super quiet and focused in schooling and then falls apart a little when he's in the ring by himself. We had stops in both rounds but he jumped on the second attempt and really did try his best! I was very pleased with him overall...the jumps were scary and there were some wicked jumper turns! At least now we know what we need to work on!

Here are a few video stills of Johnny jumping:

Not too shabby...I've got pictures of Cruz coming soon!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Birthday Wishes

So I realize that it is after midnight and therefore March 26th, but March 25th marks Johnny's 17th birthday!

Happy Birthday Johnny!!!!!!!


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Horse Show Preparation!

This weekend is going to be crazy full of horse shows! Saturday I am showing an LEC school horse named Just Cruzin By in the 2'6" hunters. It's his first horse show ever and he's a little spooky, so I'm kind of nervous! Cruz and I have a really great understanding of each other, which is why I choose to show him...I just hope he jumps all of the fences and isn't a total butt about it!

I'm also planning on taking Johnny to his debut jumper show at LEC on Sunday. Today he jumped off his right lead for the first time! He did FANTASTIC! I'm really happy! It's the same thing with Cruz as with Johnny...I just want him to jump the fences and not be a jerk!

Wish us luuuccckkkk!


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dressage and Summer Show Plans

Lately, I've been thinking that it's time to take the next step and start Johnny's dressage training for real. Last week I looked at a friends dressage saddle which she has for sale and I think I'm probably going to buy it. Of course, that transaction probably won't be going through until May because I don't have the money right now (I need to go work a horse show!) but I will in another month or so :) In the mean time, I borrowed a friend's dressage saddle and worked Johnny in it last night for the first time. It is SO much easier to get Johnny to really work correctly when I have the right tools to do it! Just having the different seat of the dressage saddle made sitting his trot a whole lot easier. We worked on some leg-yield and shoulder-in last night (he didn't like shoulder in at the trot...but was very good in the walk) and then also worked for a while on a circle with me taking up and letting out the contact. To finish, I trotted him both direction on a loose rein ans let him stretch. Can you believe that he actually kept his inside shoulder lifted? Even to the right! It was pretty exciting :) I plan on working him a little in the side reins today before doing some more dressage work.

As promised, here is our tentative spring/summer show schedule. I've picked one or two shows a month that I think will be good training and experience for Johnny AND that doesn't conflict with my grooming schedule:
(** marks a show as tentative)

~ March - LEC Jumper show**
~ April - None...lots of schooling because it's our last month up here at school with a nice indoor arena!
~ May - South Farm Combined Test (May 29-30th)
~ June - South Farm Combined Test (June 5-6th) /  SCSHA Open Show**
~ July - Chagrin Valley Classic (goal is to actually just complete the course this time!)
~ August - Brecksville Horse Show (Aug.1st) /  Bath Pony Club Mini Trial
~ September - South Farm Mini Trial** (Depends on my school schedule...but I REALLY want to go!)
~ October - South Farm Hunter Pace** (Oct. 3rd)
(My FAVORITE hunter pace, but this all depends on what my school schedule is like)

Of course, this is all subject to change depending on my financial situation and trailering opportunities. Since I don't have my own trailer, I have to get rides with friends or call J, who usually trailers me almost anywhere. C generally likes to do the mini trials and combined tests, so I will probably try to go with her!

Thats all for now :) Hopefully getting some pictures posted later today.


Thursday, March 18, 2010


Today began the first day of Johnny and Emmy's (mainly Johnny's) conditioning for this summers mini trials. E and I started off today with a couple miles of LSD road work. Once we get off the main road, the back roads are pretty quiet and nice and very straight for miles and miles. Emmy, as usual, was a perfect angel. Johnny was also really good, but very A.D.D. and resistant to move off my right leg. We definitely got in a little argument along the side of the road when I asked him to move off my leg onto the shoulder as a car came past and he blatantly ignored me. Absolutely NOT acceptable...especially when both of our safety is involved. He was not super happy, but he did oblige me. I think I'm going to work more stretching his shoulders from the ground...when he frames up he starts stepping funny with his left shoulder. I've noticed on some videos that he sometimes take a shorter step with that leg. I also haven't worked much in the side reins lately either, which I feel will really help him also.

I've got our summer show schedule in order I think. I'll post it up later :)


Monday, March 15, 2010

The Fast Track to Improving Your Riding

A few years ago, Practical Horseman magazine ran a very funny letter from the editor which was "written" from a horse's point of view. I tore the article out of the magazine that month and hung it on the wall in my room at home. It is still hanging there today and I re-read it often. One section of the article that I particularly like reads something like this:

" As horses, we can distinctly tell the difference between the crinkle of a carrot bag and the spooky blue grocery bag monster which will surely eat us, and we WILL react accordingly. Speaking of which, we horse's prefer that you don't refer to us as "fresh." We are not a loaf of bread. Nor are we "spooky" for we are neither ghost nor goblin. Instead, we prefer to refer to these conditions as "the fast track to improving your riding"

Today, Johnny definitely took me on that "fast track" to improvement. Let me begin by saying, that this situation we found ourselves in was 95% my fault. This past weekend was our IHSA Regional Championship (which my school hosted) and therefore neither Emmy nor Johnny had been ridden since Thursday. We ALSO had nasty spitting, misty rain ALL weekend, which meant that, on top of not getting ridden, the horses didn't get out a whole lot either. Emmy is 23 years old and could basically care less. You could not ride her for 3 months, get on again and have the exact same horse underneath you that you did when you stopped riding three months ago. Johnny, not so much. I knew he was going to be SUPER fresh because he was banging his stall door with his hoof when I came in. When lead him out of his stall, he nearly ran me down. Of course, my first thought was that he needed a date with the lunge line before we did any riding. Unfortunately, there were already 4 horses and 5 jumps in the ring once I got him tacked up. Lunging wasn't exactly a feasible option at the moment, so I thought (mistake number one) "well, I'll just get on a trot for a while and if he's really bad then I'll get off and lunge him."

I should have known when I asked to him to trot and he shook his head, squealed and leaped in the air that today's ride was going to be interesting. I actually think it's kind of funny when he's fresh. Since learning how to canter, he LOVES that he can now use his back to dolphin around and fling his legs all over the place when he's a little high.Generally speaking, I don't mind it much. He never bucks or bolts or does anything bad...it's actually really funny and kind of fun to ride because he comes through is back so well, drops his head down and has this big lofty canter. He's about the smoothest thing on 4 legs, so I just sit back, slip him the reins and ride it out until he's done playing, which is exactly what I did today. After 15 minutes of so, he seemed to quiet down, but he was looking bright eyed at all of the jumps in the ring, so I though "ehh why not?" and decided to let him jump a few.

Mistake number two. There is a grass pasture almost directly adjacent to the indoor area. The garage door at the end of the ring was open and there were three horses banging and splashing around in the mud as their owner brought them in. I pointed Johnny at a cross rail off the left, heading down towards the open garage door (mistake number three.) I admit that I lost my leg a little in the air. It's a super bad habit of mine that happens sometimes. I don't land very well in my heel when I'm not thinking actively about it. Johnny though actually jumped the fence perfectly, happy as a clam, landed his left lead and cantered about three strides away from the fence when the pipe gate to the pasture BANGED shut outside the garage door. Johnny, who has amazing control of his hind end, leaped in the air and spun left. There was suddenly no horse underneath me. This is kind of a normal thing for him...he's almost dumped me off a few times pulling the same little trick when something scares him or surprises him. Each time I manage to grab on and pull myself back into the saddle (it always come right out of the blue with no warning) but this time (with an already unstable lower leg) it was totally unexpected. I lost my left stirrup and realized that I was waaaayyy too far off to the right to save myself this time.

It's amazing how fast the human brain can process information and reason in a situation like this. At least, my brain reasons. Generally speaking (God help me...I've probably just jinxed myself forever for saying this) I don't fall off horses very often. I jokingly (but it's kind of true in all actuality...) attribute it to the fact that I just don't like dirt. Not that I'm a clean freak princess, but I literally can't stand the feel of dirt on my skin. I always wear gloves to set up or change jumps...everyone makes fun of me for it, but I really just don't like that dry, gritty feeling. Needless to say, I REALLY don't like that dry, gritty feeling all over my body. So, in most cases, I hang on for dear life the best I can. Every time I fall/almost fall, I literally weigh out the situation in my head. Like, literally. Today my thought process was "I'm not going to stay on this one. My left foot is out of the stirrup, my right foot is still in. If I don't kick it out, I'm going to land on my back under this horse's feet and I'm not going to like that."

In the matter of a split second, I kicked my right foot out of the stirrup and JUMPED off Johnny's right side. I landed on one foot, holding the reins with a very surprised Johnny standing next to me with a look on his face that said "OH MY GOD. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?" He hasn't thrown very many people in his career as a riding horse. It always surprises and confused him when one suddenly isn't on his back anymore. The "fall" (or flying dismount...) itself was actually pretty funny. Not a big deal at all. I jumped right back on and jumped him around the entire course of jumps with out a problem.

But let me tell you, I made SURE to land in my heel after every jump. Johnny definitely took the fast track to improving my riding.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Another Video!

Here is another new video of Johnny! Taken today by my friend (who was also sitting on Emmy at the time) Sorry it's a little bouncy and blurry...it's hard to video while riding! Johnny's got two little bobbles...one while trotting and one at the end of the video in his last downward transition. He hates to used his hind end!


Above is the link!



Saturday, March 6, 2010

New Video

I took some new (and long promised) footage today of Johnny and I schooling. Here it is!


(Does anyone know how to embed videos into posts?)

Also, here are a few conformation shots from today. He's looking pretty good I think...a little ribby in the top picture but it's been a long winter and we're going home in a couple months to lots of hay and fat pasture so I'm not super worried! I bumped up his diet balancer grass formula by half a cup just to be sure though.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Enjoying the sunshine :)

I drove back up to school today to finish out my spring break and spent all day with Emmy and Johnny. The weather has been so nice and warm for this time of year...especially in Ohio! Emmy and Johnny both got a good work out in and spent lots of time outside enjoying the sunshine. I was literally at the barn all day :) It was really nice to be able to spend time with them, I hate to say it, but with classes being so crazy this semester, I haven't been able to just hang out with them like I used to. Call me crazy, but sometimes our horses just like our company! They don't like to be ridden and put back in a stall and I can't stand doing that.

Hopefully some pictures of video tomorrow? I'll try not to forget again!!!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Next Level

Tuesday I bit the bullet and finally went to the tack store to purchase a surcingle and side reins for Johnny. The surcingle is a tool with I have been meaning to pick up for some time now, but I just keep putting it off because, with this being winter and me not grooming at all, I just really haven't had the extra money to throw around. Finally, I did manage to get some extra cash, so after staring at the surcingles on the rack at Big Dees for 15 minutes I finally picked one out and bought it. I've been doing quite a bit of research on the different kind of side reins for some time now and although I really wanted some Vienna side reins (also known as "sliding side reins") Big Dees did not carry them and so I settled for my next choice which are simple leather side reins with and elastic end. I prefer these to all leather reins because a rein with no give can teach a horse to lean against it, and the kind with the rubber donut just seemed much too heavy to me.

Today I drove back up to school to take care of Emmy and Johnny. After turnout and stall cleaning, I set John up with the surcingle and lunged him for about 10 minutes. I first started off without the reins on so that he could loosen up a bit. I let him walk, trot and canter both directions before I put them on. Of coarse, I stared the side reins on the loosest setting so that Johnny wouldn't feel trapped by them. We only walked and trotted, but he went really, really well in them and I got a chance to work on some of the problems that we have when he comes on to the contact, such as him wanted to back out of my leg instead of reaching under himself with his hind end. After his short lung session, I switched his surcingle for my saddle and rode him around a bit. His back was up and he was moving really well! I think that he's ready for his training to be taken to the next level where I can push him a little further in what I ask of him. He is mentally and physically ready for it. I plan to continue working him with the surcingle at least two or three times a week for a short period of time (like our ten minute warm up today) so that he can start to learn to really give to the contact while maintaining his impulsion from behind.

After Johnny I rode Emmy and my friend D was my eyes on the ground while I worked on my equitation. Regionals is fast-approaching and I don't feel ready at all! Luckily, Emmy was being pushy today and wanted to pull me around the ring a bit (you would think that normally this is a BAD thing, but horses that pull and hang are the kind I am least successful riding so I was grateful for her bratty-ness!) We worked through a couple of Eq tests and then D called a flat class for me, including lead changes, dropping stirrups in trot and canter and lead changes without stirrups. There are definitely some things that I need to work on. I may be switching up who E rides this week so that I can get more practice time on Emmy.

Thinking about hauling Johnny to Chagrin Valley Farms this weekend for a horse show...not sure yet!