Thursday, April 29, 2010

Heading Home

The semester here at college is finally over! I'm in the process of packing up myself and my horses to ship home Saturday morning :)) Poor Johnny though will have to turn around Sunday afternoon and ship out again for a horse show, but I'm sure he's gone through worse traveling in his life as a race horse so I'm not super worried. I checked online today and got our ride times. Dressage is at 1:42pm and stadium is from 2:30-4:00. The good news is that we don't have to get up super early and rush around to get there...the bad news is that the forecast is calling for A LOT of rain...and of course, the show is held outdoors :( I guess that in bad weather they open up the indoor for warm ups, but the show rings are still outside. C and I were debating about what we were going to wear for the show. I'm DEFINITELY not wearing my show clothes in bad weather, but all of my rain coats have hoods and that's frowned upon as a safety hazard. Might be heading to Walmart tomorrow to try and find a hoodless rain coat. Some slightly better news is that the footing in both the dressage and jumper rings is really good, so even if the weather is less than perfect, at least we won't be slipping. I was going to use my nice new Roma boots for stadium but I think I may forgo that if the weather is bad. I want more protection for his legs so it will probably be the SMB's on the hind and my brushing boots and bell boots on the front. I'll update again after the show! Wish us luck!!!


Monday, April 26, 2010

Horse Show Videos!

Here are a couple videos from the hunter schooling show E and I attended at Chagrin Valley Farms!

This is one of Johnny's trips in the 2ft hunters. He was such a good boy! This is the first time we've completed a "real" hunter course with flowers, bushes, boxes and gates :) He didn't look at anything and we even cantered two consecutive lines, although his jump on the out of the first outside line is pretty wonky...he was cross-cantering though so that would be why it got so ugly! We (unbelievable) got 8th out of 10 horses...I have NO idea how that happened since we technically broke gait and trotted, but it was a schooling show and we weren't the only ones who trotted fences so maybe he just trotted them better? lol I have no idea!

This next video is E and my lovely 23 year old hunter mare Emmy (reg. USHJA as "In Vogue") in their Adult Equitation class. They got 2nd with this round and were Reserve Champion of the day :))


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Horse Show!

Emmy and Johnny went to Chagrin Valley Farms today to show in their hunter schooling show. E showed Emmy in the Adults and I put Johnny in just two over fences classes of the Limit Rider (not that I'm really a limit rider...but its a schooling show so no one really minds a green horse in there). After a shaky warm up, E and Emmy went into their classes. Emmy pulled a 5th in her warm up...which was really quite the warm up o.0 and after some tears at the outgate and words of encouragement at the ingate, E went back into the ring strong and layed down two more really nice trips of Emmy. Chagrin added Equitation over fences to their prize list for almost every division, (which is really awesome!) so E went in that too. Emmy was super fantastic that they had a good round with just one minor late lead change behind. When the results came back Emmy was 3rd in her first trip, 2nd in the second trip and second in the Equitation. All week E and I have been working on flatting and I told E ahead of time that Emmy would win the hack if she let her and rode her right. It must have completely come together because lo and behold, the did win the hack and were 2nd in Eq. on the flat, making Emmy the Reserve Champion in her division!!

Johnny went next and after a super quick warm up in the show ring we went into our 2' class. Johnny was such a good boy in the first trip...he jumped everything and kept going forward...this is the first time we've ever gotten around a REAL course with flowers, bushes and boxes without stopping. I let him choose his gait and he often close to canter down the lines. For our second trip, I kept him cantering and we cantered the diagonal line followed by the outside line. Wouldn't you know that he actually GOT A RIBBON?? We got 8th out of 10 horses!!! Over all it was a super awesome show!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Johnny goes to College

Today was Johnny's dressage lesson at school! After my Hunter class, I went back to the barn and got him all ready to go. A had so kindly agreed to haul him the 15 minutes to the LEC barn and so we loaded up and headed off. John was such a champ, well...he's always a champ really. One of the best traveler's I've ever dealt with. No matter what kind of trailer, he just kind of looks at it, signs "Ok" and lumbers on. He doesn't rock or paw in the trailer, he just stands quietly until we get where we are going and he can lumber back off the trailer. He must have been tired today because he practically fell asleep in the wash stall at the school barn. A helped me saddle him up and we headed to the outdoor arena where B, our trainer (and local judge) was waiting. The dressage ring was set up and Johnny took a good sniff at it when we first got to the ring. He smelled it, licked it and bit it before deciding that it was a perfectly acceptable piece of equipment. From that point on he never looked at it again. We warmed up slowly under B's watchful eye and she watched as we trotted around on a lose rein before she started to work with me. She immediately saw Johnny's left stifle weakness and classified his A.D.D-ness as an actual evasion to using his right side, which is something that I never thought about before. He really does only counter-bend to the right....B suggests lots of slow trot work to make him really flex his joints while keeping him straight and relaxed so that he strengthens his stifles and hocks while letting go with his top line. I told her that we've been working on some gymnastics jumping which seems to be helping stretch his top line. She agreed that gymnastics, slow trotting and hill work would be the fastest things to help him improve. "He's a really big sweet heart" B commented. "He wants really badly to do what you want...he's just not always sure what that is and when it gets hard he wants to try twenty other options, but he never get frazzled or mad, just unsure. You probably wouldn't get great dressage scores for movement...not yet at least, but you would get high marks for submission." Although Johnny isn't the typical warmblood dressage horse that B is used to, she did admit that he looked nothing like a Standardbred and that he was very cute with a great personality. I ended our lesson with a little left and right lead canter work. John cantered both leads like a pro! After the lesson, I called my old trainer K because I was a little confused about where to go with Johnny's training from here. B suggested slow work, but in my Hunter class M always tells us that the horse must go forward before it can balance back. K suggested a four day rotational training schedule including both aspects: A day for slow work, lateral work, forward work and jumping followed by a day off. This sounds like a reasonable rotation schedule to me. I may update it a little when we get home and can do some hacking and hill work. I will probably add back in the 1/2 hour hacks after each ride that Jimmy Wofford suggests for conditioning horses.

This Saturday we are heading to Chagrin Valley Farms for a hunter/jumper schooling show. I don't plan on showing, probably just schooling the course in the morning. If he is really good I might put him in the 18" hunters because the jumpers only go down to 2'6," which by the way, did I mention that Johnny jumped 2'6" last night!?! Go him!! Tomorrow he gets a day off to de-stress!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Busy!

So I finally found my camera (yay!) Sorry for the lack of updates...I've been so busy lately with this being the last week of school and finals coming up next week. I'm on overload with homework, projects and tests...not to mention packing up myself and my horses to go home! I've got a to-do list a page and a half long...gaahhhh!

The good news is that Johnny has been REALLY good lately! (*knock on wood*) Today we worked over fences a bit and at the end I put the jumps up to 2'6" and Johnny SAILED over it! E said he looked really great! I wish I would have had my camera then :( I'm really excited because 2'6" didn't feel like it was an effort for him, so maybe he does have the scope for 3ft? I hope would be really fun to do the Prix de Villes next year! He rounded his back over 2'6" which is more than he does usually. I've been doing what K calls the "Geoff Teal release" which is a super over exaggerated crest release. I know it's a little unorthodox, but I've seen it work WONDERS on some of K and J's of which was the National Children's Hunter Champion at Harrisburg last year...clearly it does something good for the horse if you can keep your body position proper and just release your arms. It seems to be working for Johnny (who used to get hit in the face a lot when he first learned to jump...not by me, but by a previous rider) because the other night we were playing around over a cross rail and he rounded over that too!

Tomorrow is my last day of riding classes at school, save for my dressage final. I am hauling Johnny in to ride him in my dressage class (Hunter class probably isn't the best place for him right and hopefully improve his gaits a bit. Our trainer is a very good local judge, so I can't wait to hear what she has to say about I told her Monday that she wasn't allowed to laugh!

I'll let you know how it goes.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

An Apology

So I have to admit that the reason I haven't updated is because I seemed to have misplace (not LOST...just my digital camera, meaning that I have no new videos or photos to update with, which is SUCH a bummer because Johnny and Emmy were so amazingly good today in our over-fences schooling. E and I kept the jumps low, just some cross rails, but Johnny was landing his right lead EVERY time he needed too, even when we did a tight roll back and jumped a little off the diagonal. He feels so much more comfortable on it now! We even cantered a small cross rail off the right lead. It wasn't super pretty, but he got over it safely and continued to land in right lead canter on the back side. Over all, he was quiet before and after the jumps, bouncy and comfortable in his canter and he held a really great pace the whole time, plus we landed ALL of our leads, which is definitely the biggest accomplishment for the day.

Sunday, my best friend C and I went conditioning down at a park near my barn up here. Both Johnny and Abbie were very good, although Johnny and I did have a little debacle over a water crossing. It's not that he doesn't like water, he LOVES water, he just hates the step down into the creek and freaks out when he has to make that step. I have to admit that I layed into him pretty hard, which I'm not super proud of, but he deserved it (rearing and spinning is NOT okay with me...I don't care what he's got to it was like a 6 inch step down....) and after 15 minutes I finally got him in. Of course, he splashed around like a little freak and had the time of his life once he was in. We crossed two more creeks after that without a problem and today I found him drinking out of the pond in the pasture with Emmy and Romeo. Hopefully our water problem is solved?

I wish I could find my camera because I would post all of the pictures I took last Thursday down at Equine Affaire. My dad and I drove down for the day and had a blast watching clinics and SHOPPING. Two pictures of Johnny, one of just his face and one of me riding him, were on display at the SPHO Ohio booth, so that was really exciting to see! I ordered an SPHO polo shirt which should be coming in the mail soon! I can't wait to wear it and show my support for the organization...I love my Standie :) We also watched two Linda Allen clinics, one which focused on schooling the novice or green  horse over fences. I got some really great exercises for Johnny out of and I took pictures of all the jumps set up and videos of the riders riding through them...if only I could find my camera! I did make some very nice purchases though. A new dressage bit for Johnny, nice Roma brand open front and ankle jumping boots (with fuzzy insides!), a new leather stable halter to replace his nasty blue nylon one (I really hate nylon halters...I'm just a traditional freak lol), new black polo wraps, a new helmet for me (finally one that fits my head!) and some new riding gloves, since my old ones ALSO seemed to walk off...what is it with me and losing things? Overall it was a super awesome trip!

In other news, I'm working on getting Johnny hauled over to school either tomorrow or next week so that I can ride him in my dressage class. Our trainer is a local professional who is also a judge and I would love to hear what she has to say about him. Unfortunately, the girl who is going to trailer him told me today that she might be having truck problems, so tomorrow might turn into next week. Either way, I just really want a dressage lesson on him!

I'm going to go scope around for my camera some more...hopefully I will find it :( Keep your fingers crossed.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day One: Dressage

Yesterday Johnny and I began our rotational training schedule starting with our dressage day. It was SO HOT outside, but the indoor was dusty and the outdoor had better lighting so we road outside. One long side of the arena was still a little mushy and deep, which as you can see in the video, Johnny struggled through slightly. I cut some of our circles and diagonals a little short to avoid the really deep spots. The last thing I need is (at best) a thrown show and (at worse) a soft tissue injury!

Here are some photos and a video link:

His contact is far from consistent at this stage in his training but we do have some nice moments as you can see by these photos. Plus, I am VERY happy that he is tracking evenly with his front and hind legs...another big issue for us!

Here is the video of our walk/trot Intro. B test...not too shabby for not having practiced much at all!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Four Day Training Guide

In Jimmy Wofford's section of this month's Practical Horseman Magazine, Mr. Wofford offered a "four day rotation" training guide for event horses. While my little Standardbred is FAR away from being an event horse, I've always had the idea that I wanted to eventually introduce him to the world of eventing through some low stress mini trials. We've already attended our first jumper show and had some mixed results...the plan so far is to attend our first combined test on May 2nd. After reading Mr. Wofford's article about conditioning and event prep I decided to keep a more dedicated training journal following Mr. Wofford's guidelines.

Here is an overview of the four-day rotational plan:

Day One: Dressage
Day Two: Show Jump
Day Three: Dressage
Day Four: Canter
(repeat with day one)

Of course, any system should be tailored to fit individual horses needs. Therefore, I  have tailored this rotation into my own rotational plan based on Johnny's age, the amenities that our current location offers and my current class schedule here at school...of course I plan wholeheartedly on documenting all of this with videos and pictures! We need to get ready for our combined test!!


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Just a Picture Update

A quick update with a few pictures that my friend sent me from last weekend's horse show.

The first two pictures are of Johnny and I in the jumpers and the rest of the pictures (the chestnut horse) are of me and the school horse I showed :)


Friday, April 2, 2010

The Lead Fairy

The Lead Fairy must have paid Johnny a visit since the jumper show. I've only ridden him twice since then, but suddenly he totally understands right lead's just about all he wants to do now! In both of our last rides we've been doing neat and clean simple lead changes through a figure 8! It seems like he finally figured out what to do with his inside hind when cantering on the right lead. He's much more willing to reach through with it now instead of just digging it into the ground and leaping through corners. I've changed around our training schedule slightly and I'm only working Johnny every other day now, instead of schooling everyday. He seems to come to the ring with a little better attitude and more energy, which makes accomplishing things like leads and lead changes a whole lot easier. On the days that I don't ride him, I make sure that he gets out while E hacks Emmy. Granted, both of my horses get out every day, but since we are on partial self care they only get out when I put them out. For Emmy, half an hour to 45 minutes is sufficient for her. Of course, she likes to stay out longer, but she won't through a fit if she only gets out for 45 minutes. She's getting old now (23 this month!) and prefers not to stand out in the rain/snow/beating down sun. Johnny on the other hand MUST have his outdoor time. Oh, he won't actively complain about 45 minutes, but he just comes to the schooling ring with a much better mind set if he can have an hour and a half or so. In the summer, when my horses go home, they will spend all day outdoors until it gets too hot, in which case they will spend all night outside, so I make sure they always get ample turnout at home. Sometimes though, with school it's not always possible, although next week I FINALLY will have a car here, so it will definitely increase their turnout time.

Either way though, it seems like the extra time has made a direct impact on Johnny's mind set and willingness in the schooling pen. Hopefully this will keep up! Tomorrow we are going to do some dressage work outside (the ring is finally dry and dragged!!) and then maybe go for a hack down the road. Next week we are going to start working over fences off the right lead and then Thursday I'm heading down to Equine Affaire :) We will see what goodies I can pick up from the clinics down there!

Yay for almost having a "real" horse with both leads established! I would say we are making excellent progress. Who knows...maybe in a few months we will be going Training Level in dressage? It's worth hoping for!

I'll try for videos tomorrow!