I've been so busy this past week that I feel as though I have seriously been neglecting my blog, not to mention that my mental list of updates for you guys has grown so long that I can't even remember what I wanted to say anymore.
Let's see what has been going on this week...
I worked another weekend at the horse show (last weekend) and still have one more to do this weekend before I get a break from grooming for a couple of weeks. I feel as though I seriously have spent the last two months at Chagrin, and although I love doing it, I'm ready for a atmosphere change! In other news though, I secured a new job as a barn manager at the place where M (the trainer I am grooming for) is now working out of. It's not a new facility, but it's under new ownership and the owners are looking to streamline the barn work and get the barn running smoothly. They practically begged me to come work for them, which I have to admit, made me feel pretty good. So far, I think that I have the hours and the pay that I was really looking for and I am excited to become a part of their "family" and help them establish their business....not to mention that a steady, sufficient paycheck would REALLY be helpful to my current life situation. It would be nice to finally save some money versus always living paycheck to paycheck, weighing my purchases on whether or not I will be able to afford the next month's board on Emmy (thank goodness the bf pays for Cool!) I would like to be able to put some money away for a new(er) car, hock/fetlock injections for Emmy and a nice joint supplement for Cool...not to mention some horse shows! I start Monday at the new job and will only be working 5 days a week! Woo hoo!! Who knew that barn jobs ever gave you so few days? I've been accustomed to working 6 days a week since I first started in the fancy "A" circuit hunter/jumper world 6 years ago, this is going to be the ultimate treat :)
So, with that news out of the way, here is the update on the el ponias:
Last week, Emmy took a couple of questionable steps on one of our rides. Not that she was really "lame" but she didn't quite feel right to me. I let her get ridden in her walk/trot lesson on Thursday, but since then she has been on turnout only. I got back on her today after almost a week of rest and she felt fabulous! I have put her back into her french link slow-twist d-ring (versus the double jointed happy mouth loose ring that I was working her in) also. The slow twist is what I have always ridden her in, but over the summer I was trying to soften her mouth back up a little and re-school her with the loose ring. It was a nice idea, but it really hasn't been working and I have come to accept the fact that Emmy just needs some extra brakes when working over jump/poles. It's not fair for me to get in a tug of war match with her mouth just because I want to ride her in "less" bit. I would rather bit her up just a little and be lighter with my hands versus trying to stop a run away freight train with a piece of string. There are some things that just are the way they are, and Emmy's bit is one of them. It reminds me a little of that old saying: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
So, back into the slow twist we went today Emmy was actually really good! For one, I had brakes in the corners (halleluiah!), for two, I was able to let the reins out a little longer and ride with a much softer arm, letting her stretch down without her getting heavy and hanging on me. I think that Emmy was silently thanking me for getting my head out of my rear and just riding her the way I always have. Sometimes I feel like she just looks right through me with those big brown eyes and thinks "...idiot."
I set up a course of poles tonight consisting of a single on the long side and a single on the diagonal, with a two stride on the other long side and a one stride on the other diagonal. Emmy started off really good, cantering quietly over the single pole on the long side and then down the single diagonal with a PERFECT, clean lead change, but the more we rode the more it started to fall apart and she wanted to run at the poles. I think this is something that is going to take some serious thinking and mental work on my part to keep my body out of her way to help get her to balance herself backwards without running. I know that her hocks are old, but after watching her run around the arena today in turnout, bucking and rearing and leaping in the air, I have to say that I think her hocks are good enough to canter quietly. All in all, it was a good ride and I was happy with it. I finished off with some transitions (with a few pretty strong half halts) to sharpen her up and get her more focused on me and not so much on "jumping." George Morris would say that the best way to work a horse is with transitions, so that is what I did/am going to do!
Cool on the other hand, has been incredibly spicy the past two weeks with a little bit of an attitude and I have to admit that his attempts to buck me off are getting a) old and b) ANNOYING. He's been off his rocker lately, dragging me around like a crazy horse and then wanting to buck and leap through the air. I had to give him two pretty good gallops over the past week and a half just to make him ride-able. He was pretty decent today, no bucking but he was making nasty faces when I was asking him to go forward. Finally, I got off and got the dressage whip out and after a few swats of that he was trit-trotting around like he couldn't be happier to do anything else. I worked him through the same course of poles as Emmy and he was SO good also!! Not only did he canter them all, but we got the majority of our distances and even (dun dun dun) LEAD CHANGES! The left to right was CLEAN and correct, while the right to left was a change in the front and then I had to circle him and kick a little with my outside leg to get it behind, but by god he got it! The extra circling/kicking made him a little wild going into the last line of the "course" (the two stride) and we practically ate the line for lunch. Either I accidentally set it really short or Cool's stride is getting bigger!
I've decided that we are going to canter poles at least 2-3 times a week and jump 2 times a week (no more than 3) for a little while. The poles are really helping me and him to learn to read each other and work as a team. Cool is a little bit more of a Johnny ride versus an Emmy ride (remember going through this with Johnny? Because I do!) and I really need to learn to feel his canter and not lean at him like I do with Emmy. He's so much lazier than her (on most days) that I really need to take some time to learn what is his best canter and where is stride is the best, without burning him out over fences or making him loose his confidence. At least with working over poles, if I mess it up than no one dies or gets hurt, we just try again!
This is a little like Johnny all over again I feel.
I was wanting to take Cool to a small schooling show next weekend but I'm not sure that he will be ready, especially with the new job starting, I'm still not sure how that will affect my riding time...and this whole weekend (fri-sun) is shot because of grooming at the horse show.
I also want to work on some position things for myself to improve my rides:
- Landing better in the heel over fences...at one time I had this going really well, but I'm so out of shape with jumping that its gone caputskies.
- Keeping the eyes up and looking to the next fence...this will in turn help my shoulder from getting ahead
- Riding FORWARD to decisions...STOP pulling to the chip! Also something that I had once fixed but is now gone by the wayside.
- Loosen up the low back and hip...why am I so stiff all the time now? UGH
- Video myself once a week (at least) to keep tabs on the riding and see how the improvements are going.
That's all for now!