Monday, June 27, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

So I know I have pretty much disappeared recently but I promise I have good excuses! The last few weeks have been VERY hectic for me so I haven't really had any time to blog and to be honest, I probably won't have too much time for a while going forward. You see, I have decided that it's time to stop being an effing dinosaur and actually do something with my life. To begin, I have signed up for 2 summer classes at the community college, I am also just starting to study for the GMAT and when that's done I'll have the LSAT, and I am researching grad schools to apply to.

However, in the midst of all of that, I am still making time for Gatsby and some lessons and *hopefully* some competitions coming up. Gatsby has done a complete 180 from the last time I wrote. Our rides recently have been awesome, both on the flat and over fences. We went to Woodside a couple weekends ago and had a fantastic schooling, including a big prelim jump into water which he rocked!

Our dressage has also been coming along although we definitely have good & not-so-good days. Our jumping has been phenomenal!! Last week in our lesson we jumped a HUGE 4 ft oxer beautifully. Gatsby was very unimpressed with mine and Alexis' attempts to make him work by raising the jumps. I don't know how much higher we can raise them before I get chicken!!

Anyways, I will try to update more regularly now that I have somewhat of a schedule for my classes/studying but I can't make any promises. Hope you all are having fantastic summers with your ponies!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ups, Downs, and Scratches

Well I have seriously been neglecting this blog. Honestly it's because I just haven't felt like writing down how awful my rides have been and how frustrated it's been making me. Basically, Gatsby has been pretty much back to his old ways, exploding at random moments, blowing off all my aides, completely ignoring what I'm asking of him. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little but, especially after all the progress we'd been making, I was starting to feel like I was back to square 1.

Last weekend we had a less than stellar jumping lesson and I may have had a near-mental breakdown at some point. In all honesty, he could have been worse. He was still jumping well, locking on to the fences and looking for a job. However, it felt more like a jumper speed round than a relaxed, schooling stadium course. Oy vey...

Monday I took off riding because I wanted to really address where our issues were coming from and, quite honestly, I didn't even feel like riding. That has kind of been the case for the last couple weeks, I just haven't felt like it. It's depressing to get on knowing I'm going to work but tush off and have nothing to show for it. But, I know that this will pass, as similar phases have in the past, so I tried to persevere and scheduled a dressage lesson for Tuesday.

Thankfully we had an actually decent lesson on Tuesday. I'm not going to say good because I had to spend a good portion of the lesson getting him to the point where he usually starts but, we did end on a good note and we did have some really nice canter work.

Unfortunately as I was rubbing down his legs after our lesson I discovered a pretty nasty case of scratches on his hind legs. It doesn't seem to be bothering him much and his legs were still tight and cool so I just scrubbed with Betadine, wrapped and gave him a day off yesterday. When I went out last night they looked a little better and I added some anti-fungal cream, anti-bacterial cream, and diaper rash cream under his wraps. Hopefully today his legs will still be tight and cold and we can have a nice ride!

Also, I know I need to get to work on my goals seeing as we are almost half-way through June but I may have to save that for tomorrow:)

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Well, not surprisingly, I wasn't the only one at the barn who was upset that people were still going to Woodside. Both my trainer and the barn manager sent out emails on Tuesday saying that, due to boarder concerns, no one would be going to Woodside!! I feel a little bad that I am excited about this since many of those who had planned on going ended up losing their entry fee, but ultimately, I am more concerned about my horse's well being.

Also, I checked the Woodsite site this morning and the new precautions they have in place to monitor signs of EHV-1 seem not only tedious, but also unreliable. They are having riders check their horses temps twice a day and place outside their stall, among other things.

Seeing as Woodside was going to be our last show till August, I guess Gatsby and I have a nice, relaxing summer ahead of us now:)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scratch That

Given the recent scare over the EHV-1 outbreak, I have decided to scratch from Woodside. Luckily, I was able to make this decision in time to still receive credit towards another event, many others are not in the same boat. However, I probably would have made the same decision regardless.

Granted, this decision was probably easier to make for me than for some. While I am trying to qualify for the Training 3-Day at Galway in November, I was not one of the many who shelled out big bucks to participate in the $15K Prelim Challenge, a once-yearly occurrence. I am by no means passing judgment on any riders who are choosing to still compete, I am simply stating my opinion on my personal situation.

After talking to Alexis about it on Saturday, I was seriously considering un-scratching but then I diagnoses in Marin County, under 100 miles from us, gave me the extra push to stick with my decision. Unfortunately, this does not prevent Gatsby from being at risk as several other boarders at my barn are still planning on attending. My barn sent out an email last week instating a no trailering in or out policy until this ordeal passes but I guess they made an exception for this show. This seriously bothers me, especially considering that at this point, no other barns in the area are accepting new horses so I am stuck there, regardless of whether or not others choose to attend Woodside.

My current plan? I will be sending a very polite yet adamant e-mail to my BO stating my concerns. I am hoping that others from my barn have reactted similarly and that the BO decides to firmly enforce their original rule that no one travel off-property if they plan on returning.

If that doesn't work? Upon the horses return from Woodside I will begin monitoring Gatsby VERY closely, taking his temperature twice a day and watching for any signs of neurological symptoms. At the moment, I am very disappointed with how they are handling the issue but can only cross my fingers that they well act responsibly and reasonably in trying to protect our horses.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Down to Business

Gatsby had an unfortunately light week last week, I only got to ride twice:( So I knew he would be crazy when I went out yesterday because he had only been turned out 3 out of the last 4 days (not Sunday because it rained). However, I decided to brave the crazy and was determined to have a productive dressage ride regardless. Looking back, I think I should always get on with that mindset because we had a FANTASTIC session.

I was down to business right from the start, beginning with leg yields, shoulder in, and haunches in at the walk to get him supple and focused. When I picked up the trot I sat for a bit and really focused on my position which I think ended up helping set the tone for our whole ride. We did a few lengthenings and leg yields but I was mostly focused on keeping him supple, reaching into the contact, and listening to me!.

Our canter work is where the issues finally started to show up (I knew they would at some point). He was pretty good working on the circle with only a few spooks that were easily and quickly corrected. However, moving off of the circle was a whole 'nother story. He stayed nice and calm for all of 5 seconds and then his head shot up, his stride got choppy and before I could even correct him, he was trotting completely unorganized. NOT OKAY. My response to this was to stop him, immediately, and have him rein back until he came back to me. I know this isn't a perfect solution and I don't want him to learn rein back as a punishment but, it did work wonderfully after 2-3 times and he was much more focused and attentive to what I was asking for. We actually eventually had some really lovely canter lengthenings that I was really happy with. What I realized is that I normally ride these too much from the leg and that's why I tend to lose the connection. Yesterday, as I mentioned, I was really focused on my position and I rode the lengthenings from my seat and he stayed very relaxed and did not throw away the connection.

I ended our ride with some counter-canter work. I know this is not something he really needs to know at this time but I think it is really helpful in getting him to engage his hind end at the canter and also to keep him attentive as it really is hard work and he does need to be listening to my every cue to succeed. Our first few attempts were sloppy and he either broke to the trot or changed leads shortly after crossing the diagonal. After that though, he seemed to really "get it" and we had some really nice serpentines.

I let him finish with a nice long stretchy trot and a long walk around the property. At this point, I am thrilled with my horse and I just hope we can keep up the good work for Woodside!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prepping for Woodside

I have to say, I have been very pleased with our work since we've been back from Twin. We definitely had some solid issues there and although we got away with them mostly, we have to really nip them in the bud before we can even think about moving up.

Last weekend we took the horses to Woodside to school and it went really well. I'm starting to realize that XC really is not an issue for us and I need to stop riding like it is. This horse LOVES XC!! I just need to focus and let him do his job. We jumped most of the Training course and I can honestly say I'm not too worried. He did stop once at the log into the first water but I think as long as I am prepared it will be OK. It is pretty early on in the course and it's hard to say whether or not he'll be in his groove yet but if I ride strongly I think he'll go. We also got to jump the first two Prelim fences!!!! Neither are that big, I mean, they're the first fences, but it was still pretty exciting.

Tuesday we had a jumping lesson with Alexis and we decided to work on getting Gatsby to jump rounder, something we had noticed as an issue at Woodside. At this level, it really doesn't matter that much but, it will definitely effect us moving up. So, we put some draw reins on (Alexis also recommended that I ride in these more often to teach him how to carry himself). I was under the impression that these would magically change my horse and get him nice and round and I could just sit there and focus on me...NOPE! At least, not on my horse. I still worked my tush off even with the draw reins! We kept the fences fairly small, probably slightly lower than Training height and tried a variety of courses. When we finally felt that he had learned the lesson we took them off and just worked on a line, vertical to oxer. The line rode in about 4 strides I think but Alexis told me not to worry about distance. Gatsby jumped really well!! We kept putting the oxer up until the end when it was big, wide and scary with a pole across the top and he didn't even care! Love this horse.

Yesterday I had a short but sweet dressage ride. I worked the walk a lot before moving on to anything else and I think that helped him get down to business. He did feel slightly stiff from the day before though so I didn't do anything too crazy:) Just a little work with lengthenings and then lots of transitions towards the end. He almost always resists through the downward transitions so I decided to make him to some more difficult ones to really get his attention - canter-walk-canter-halt-canter and so on. By then end, he was really focused, relaxed, and attentive to what I was asking for:)

Today he will get the day off and the I will probably do another light dressage school before heading home for the weekend. Although I do want to keep him in steady work I don't want to push him too much as he tends to get burnt out and then blows me off when it really matters (at the show).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

April Recap & May Goals

I know, I know, it's almost half-way through May..but that doesn't mean we haven't been working on these goals!!

April Recap

  1. Make this the month of dressage. Even though our dressage work has improved tremendously since January, I am still not quite happy with where it's at. I would like our work to be more consistent so that we can start adding in new, more difficult elements. I also really want to feel confident in riding our test so I am not always dreading dressage day at events.

Half-success. We definitely did quite a bit of dressage work and I was pretty happy with our progress. However, I was seriously disappointed when we failed to break into the 30’s after dressage at Twin. I know we can do better than this!

2. Start adding in more difficult questions in our jumping lessons. I am really liking where our show jumping is heading but I want to make sure to keep Gatsby on his toes and thinking about every fence.

Oh god yes. Alexis has pretty much been scaring the pants off of me in all of our jumping lessons. And, judging from how stadium went at Twin, this NEEDS to continue!

3. Follow our conditioning plan more religiously. Although now that I've written that I've realized that I will be out of town the next 3 weekends and we didn't do anything last weekend...I will have to try to get some of these rides in during the week now that it is staying light later.

Ehh…this is probably pretty much a fail. We definitely did not follow our plan anywhere near religiously lol. However, I am happy to report that he was still raring to go after running XC at Twin and I am not too worried about his fitness at this point.

  1. Sitting trot! We have definitely come a long way in regards to our sitting trot, I mean, I can actually ride it now! But, we are starting to get to the point in our career where I really should be able to sit the trot for our whole test and we are not even close to that.

We actually had a breakthrough with this in one of our recent dressage lessons and Alexis alerted me to some issues in my position that were hindering my progress her.

  1. Finish Twin on our dressage score. My dream goal would really be to finish in the top 10 but I am focusing more on going clean right now. Fingers crossed!

What’s funny is that if it weren’t for my horrendous ride to fence 9 in stadium we would have been in 8th! But, that cost us both the ribbon and my goal. Oh well:(

May Goals

  1. Keep making progress in dressage! I really want to work on keeping him round and working through his back more consistently and this will ultimately help him with his own self-carriage.
  2. Along those lines, work on his jumping technique. As Alexis and I discussed yesterday he is just too athletic and too talented to have any rails in stadium. However, his technique leaves something to be desired as he often jumps fairly flat. This isn't a huge issue right now but it will definitely become one as the jumps get bigger.
  3. More trail riding! Now that it is warmer and staying light later I want to take him out of the arena more. I think it will be a good break for both of us:)
  4. Not score any 4's in dressage at Woodside!
  5. On that note, actually finish on our dressage score this time! (top 10 would still be nice:))

Monday, May 9, 2011

Twin Stadium & XC

I know I am SUPER last posting this but real life has gotten in the way of blog posting lately. I do still want to get this down so I have something to look back to though.

The schedule at Twin has the lower levels riding stadium on Saturday and XC on Sunday. We walked our course on Friday after dressage and I was feeling pretty confident as we were walking around. The course was super twisty which is exactly what I like for Gatsby, lots of turns to make him think and help get him back to me. My only real concern was that most of the turns were to the left and he just loooooves to pop that right shoulder, I knew though that as long as I paid attention and really used my outside aides we would be fine. The course was as follows: Oxer, rollback to a vertical, bending line to a wall vertical, right turn to another vertical, rollback to an oxer, left turn to a looky vertical, right turn to another vertical, bending line to a square oxer, left turn to what I thought would be reset to an in and out. Oh no, I was wrong, as we approached the end of our course walk Alexis commented that he was "surprised they would put a triple combo on the Training course." WTF?!?!? At this point, I was scared out of my pants but hoping that they would at least lower the first fence of the triple, a huge oxer. Again, oh no.I practically had a mental breakdown in warm up on Saturday and Alexis commented on my round that he was surprised I was able to hold it together so well in the ring. Ugh. The first 8 fences were beautiful, according to Alexis it looked like a hunter round, despite the fact that I almost threw up before fence 5 LOL. And then, as we approached fence 8 I started to realize what a great round we had and that we were almost done. It only took about 3 seconds for me to realize that my nemesis, the triple (oxer-1 stride-vertical-1 stride-vertical) was all that stood between us and a double clear round. Unfortunately this was going through my head during the time where I actually should have been kicking him on and setting him up for the line. Oops.
We kind of crashed through the first fence and Gatsby legitimately did not have enough room for a stride before the vertical so he stopped. The rang the bell, I regrouped, told myself I had better ride it perfectly this time and not let it become an issue, and started through again. The second time was great, he did hit the middle rail but I am chalking that up to him being a bit shaken up from our first go through. Those 12 penalties would ultimately cost us the 8th place ribbon. Definitely a disappointment but at least I know what I need to fix for next time.
This is where I started to feel sick...


I was surprisingly not nervous at all in XC warm up on Sunday. I was super excited to get out there and just hoped that Gatsby felt the same. He warmed up great and before I knew it we were heading over to the start box. We took it slow to the first few fences, fence 2 was super looky and I really didn't want a stop early one. After fence 3 my first minute marker went off a bit early and I kicked him forward into a gallop, there was no turning back after that. I got a little nervous to the u-log on the hill (our previous nemesis) but I rode it just like Alexis told me to, picked his nose up and away we went. At this point, I was remembering that this horse really does LOVE cross-country. My half-halts were pretty much ignored and I had no option but to really trust Gatsby that he could gallop this fences without killing me.

Clearly having the time of his life
I could tell he was really enjoying himself and everyone said afterwards that he looked amazing. And despite the fact that he was mostly ignoring my attempts to slow down (he took the angled houses in 2 strides where everyone else was doing 3 or 4), he did come back to me when he knew it was necessary. The drop into water sharp turn to the corner, down banks to the skinny house, coffin, and twisty turns through the second water were non-issues for him. I'm pretty sure I galloped through the finish flags with a GIGANTIC smile on my face. I could not be more proud of my horse.
Don't think Training height will be an issue for him:)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Twin Recap: Dressage

So this has taken forever for me to post...better late than never right?

Gatsby and I had a great time at Twin, ultimately I would have like to do a bit better but, seeing as we hadn't competed in 2 years, I think we pretty much rocked it:)

Friday: Dressage
Our ride wasn't until 4:18pm which was actually nice because I wasn't able to get down until 9:30pm on Thursday and didn't have time to bathe or braid. I took him out for a warm up ride around 10 to get some crazies out after a day off on Thursday. He was really nice, relaxed, and forward...until we walked back to the barn. Freak. Anyways, I was pleased but also slightly nervous that he would then flip me the bird when I went to get on him a second time that afternoon; you never know with this horse. I spent the rest of the day bathing him and braiding and watching other riders from my barn and it felt like 4:18 was literally forever away. When I finally did get on I was surprised to find that Gatsby was still nice and relaxed, not as forward and engaged as earlier in the morning but oh well. Unfortunately another rider from our barn was scheduled at 4:12pm so we warmed up in the area near her arena. Looking back, this was a bad decision on my part but I didn't event think of it at the time. I also think that I warmed up for a touch too long and Gatsby was on his last legs for the day. When we finally sauntered over to our warm up area, which, even though it was right next to the other one, was a completely horrifying place to my horse, the wind picked up. Great, now my horse is annoyed, spooky, and tense right before going into the ring...ughhh. Given the circumstances, I think we had a nice test and I was really happy with how I handled him and kept it together. I was disappointed that we didn't get better marks for our lengthenings and also that he picked up the wrong canter lead going to the right but those are things to work on next time!

Hmm....He actually doesn't look half bad here.

Look at that adorable face:)

My favorite picture from dressage.

Well my lunch break is over now but I will recap stadium and XC later:)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today is the day!!!

Twin is finally here!!! Gatsby shipped out this morning and I will be joining him in Paso this evening. We have been doing dressage all week and he has been beyond fabulous. I am a little worried about him getting the day off today but I don't ride till 4pm tomorrow so I plan on riding him first in the am. I will try to take lots of pictures of the course to post!

Starting tomorrow...we will be doing this again!!!!...and this...and this

I'm very excited if you couldn't tell:)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good News & Bad News

I'll start with the good I guess. I had probably one of my best dressage rides ever yesterday. I was worried that he would be crazy because he had the weekend off so I decided to get down to business right away. No lazy walking around to start off, no stretchy, straight to marching walk, active behind, lots of lateral work. Worked wonders, he was absolutely fabulous. At the trot I could really tell he was pushing off and active from behind rather than pulling himself. It created a HUGE difference in his gait, he was much more free and forward than usual and his lengthenings were even better than they have been! At the canter he did try to play around a little but I feel like I rode him really well and kept him focused on his job. By the end he had a really fabulous canter and I could really feel him using his back. Also, we finally got some nice canter lengthenings which I was really pleased about. I ended the ride by working on a particular series of movements in our test that always get him tense and flustered, stretchy trot circle to medium walk to free walk across the diagonal, medium walk in the corner, trot at a, and canter in the next corner. It started out better than usual but he was still resistant in the downward transition, figgity and jigging in the free to medium walk transition and then rushed through the walk-trot-canter. We ran through this exercise probably 7 times and he ended up with 2 beautiful times. I was really proud of him, especially when one of the Prix St.George dressage riders at the barn saw him and commented that we must score really well in dressage:)

Tonight we have a dressage lesson and then I am not sure if I will do dressage or conditioning tomorrow. I am torn because I don't want him to get burnt out on dressage but I also want to make sure he is prepped seeing as he will not be worked on Thursday. Decisions, decisions. I am super excited for dressage day at Twin though which is a very new feeling for me!

Now on to the bad news, not horse related thank god. I heard back from the grad school that I applied to in February and unfortunately I did not get in. I am really trying to look on the bright side because they did make a personal phone call to tell me and also said that they will hang out to my application to consider again in January. For now I am thinking I will apply to some internships in my field, look into more grad programs and also start thinking about law school. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Prepping for Twin

I have really gotten down to business this week prepping for Twin. Actually, I only got in 3 rides but I feel like we had some big successes in all 3 so I am happy with that and feel that we are on the right track.

Tuesday I rode dressage. Gatsby started out in a butt-headish mood and was back to all his old ways, spooking at nothing, running from my leg, avoiding the contact, sucking back...ughhhh. At this point I was thinking that somewhere in the last month something obviously went the wrong direction and I have NO CLUE how to fix it and how the heck am I going to make it through our dressage test at Twin without crying out of frustration. But, I tried really hard not to let him get to me and to just stay focused and ride through it and cross my fingers that he would respond. Well, eventually he did. He didn't end up nearly as nice as I had hoped and I had to work WAY harder than I should have BUT at least it was progress and I did have to be happy with that. Plus we did have some pretty nice lengthenings. I actually had a friend walk by during our ride and I mentioned that he was being a jerk and then about 5 minutes later she walked by again and commented that "he doesn't look like a jerk, he looks really good!" So, I guess that's all that will really matter when it comes down to least short-term.

Wednesday we had a jumping lesson with Alexis and I was really happy with how it went. I am constantly having to remind myself that my horse does actually listen to my half-halts now and I really don't have to fight with him like I used to. However, I also am having to remind myself that even though he does listen, he gets so excited and focused on course that I really need to make sure my aides are getting through to him. If I give a strong half-halt he really does respond but if I just whisper "woah" he will think about it...and then decide to do things his own way.

We worked a lot on the same things as last week, tight turns and bending lines. We had one line that was a long 4 and I was really proud of myself for actually putting my leg on and getting the 4 instead of chipping the 5 like we normally do. There as also a XC jump in the area, just a little wall with some scary chevrons painted on it. We presented it to him and I figured he would jump it really big and probably squirm all the way to it. This horse continues to surprise me; he cantered up to it nice and relaxed and didn't over jump it at all! I was really happy with him especially considering this will be our last jump school before Twin.

To finish up the week we had another dressage school, this one much more successful than Tuesday. I was going back and forth about whether to do a dressage school or a conditioning ride but I am really happy I decided on dressage because it was the perfect way to head into the weekend, SUCH A CONFIDENCE BUILDER! I don't even know what to say, he was just fabulous. I can really tell how much his gates have improved since January, his canter is much more connected and his trot is much more free and flowing, it's really wonderful to ride. I'm so glad we seem to have overcome whatever we were going through. We will have a dressage lesson with Alexis next week and then hopefully we will be all set for Twin!

Monday, April 11, 2011

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming

I have been a terrible blogger lately. I usually post during my lunch breaks but I just took on some additional responsibilities at work so I have been neglecting blogging. Hopefully I can get back on track before Twin though!

I wasn't able to get out to the barn much last week, sadly. I actually only got in two real rides which is depressing:( We did a serious dressage school on Wednesday. Gatsby was back to his old ways, tossing his head, ignoring my aides, running through the contact, and heavy in the bridle...UGH!!!! I started to get really frusterated but fortunately caught myself before doing too much harm to our ride. I decided to try something new with him since my usual tools were getting COMPLETELY ignored and I did some rapid-fire transitions, lots, while also leg yielding. All of a sudden, I had an responsive horse under me. Our work still wasn't quite as lovely as I wanted but actually, I think it was better than I am giving us credit for. Instead of working through our test as a whole, which I think was frustrating both of us, I broke up the different movements and threw in a few extras to mix things up. Our extended trots are getting quite lovely and I am really happy with the direction our transitions are going in. The one big issue I am still having is with the lengthening at the canter. When he is completely relaxed and responsive he does this beautifully, but, that is about 10% of the time tops. Usually he responds to my lengthening aides but I lose the front end and his head shoots up and our nice frame is done for:( also, he is then resistant to coming back to working canter. Thoughts anyone?

Thursday we had a jumping lesson. It went really well but I could tell I wasn't riding as well as usual which was a bit disappointing. What was nice was that Gatsby kept his cool and took care of me:) We worked on some tight turns and bending lines and finished up over a skinny corner. I could not be more proud of my boy!

Alexis rode him over the weekend and I am super excited for our dressage school today and for our upcoming rides as we prepare for Twin. Hopefully we can get everything figured out an have a successful showing!

Monday, April 4, 2011

March Recap and April Goals

Well, we are back! I had a lovely trip to NYC last week and Gatsby got a nice mini-vacation, Alexis said he was wonderful both times he rode him which made me very happy. We have been pretty down to business training-wise since we moved to DK in January and I could tell that he was on the verge of burning out, which I obviously did not want to happen right.before.Twin. So, he got ridding by Alexis only twice during the 6 days I was gone, and of course he got turned out as well. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the barn Wednesday or Thursday because I had to stay late for month end. We did have some nice dressage rides on Friday and Saturday and I feel like we are on track for Twin! I really think he did need those days to relax and kind of forget about work for a while and I am happy with his mindset coming back into work.

And now for our goals...

March Recap

  1. Really focus on keeping him relaxed and attentive in dressage. This is clearly our weakest phase and I would really like to change that especially since I KNOW he is capable of being an amazing dressage horse.

I think this went pretty well. We had some moments of brilliance but they weren’t as consistent as I would like them to be. Progress though!

  1. Lots of work on lateral movements. This really plays into my first goal but also continues to keep me focused on his straightness.

Success! I made sure to start each of our rides with lots of lateral work at the walk and it has made a huge difference. I also started adding in some of the movements at the trot but I really want to make sure he is comfortable before moving forward; if he doesn’t understand completely he just throws a fit and that is definitely not what I want.

  1. Start working with my conditioning plan and really get a feel for how much work we have cut out for us if we are aiming for the T3D.

We haven’t done as much conditioning work as I would like but that has been entirely my fault as I have been out of town a lot on the weekends. I do feel confident about him being fit enough for the T3D though, I just want to get him outside of the arena and all to get myself used to having a fitness plan as we will be needing one in the future!

  1. Continue to work on his relaxation and focus in our jumping lessons. I am really excited that we were able to go back to the snaffle and I would like to start playing with his adjustability over courses.

We actually haven’t jumped since schooling at Twin but before then our lessons were going fabulously! We did have one lesson prior to Twin where we worked on some tough bending lines and angled lines and I really felt like I had a control over his stride. And we kept him in the snaffle at Twin and he was fantastic!

  1. Have a fun and successful schooling at Twin! At this point I am unsure of whether our first event of the season will be Twin or Woodside but regardless it will be great to get back out on a cross-country course and I really want this to be a confidence building experience for both of us.

SUCCESS!! Although Twin was a bit of a disaster on some fronts (bad weather and a horse colicing), we did have a great schooling. As I mentioned before we got over everything on the Training course without a single refusal! I have officially entered Twin at Training level and it’s looking like we’ll be heading to Woodside as well in May!

April Goals

  1. Make this the month of dressage. Even though our dressage work has improved tremendously since January, I am still not quite happy with where it's at. I would like our work to be more consistent so that we can start adding in new, more difficult elements. I also really want to feel confident in riding our test so I am not always dreading dressage day at events.
  2. Start adding in more difficult questions in our jumping lessons. I am really liking where our show jumping is heading but I want to make sure to keep Gatsby on his toes and thinking about every fence.
  3. Follow our conditioning plan more religiously. Although now that I've written that I've realized that I will be out of town the next 3 weekends and we didn't do anything last weekend...I will have to try to get some of these rides in during the week now that it is staying light later.
  4. Sitting trot! We have definitely come a long way in regards to our sitting trot, I mean, I can actually ride it now! But, we are starting to get to the point in our career where I really should be able to sit the trot for our whole test and we are not even close to that.
  5. Finish Twin on our dressage score. My dream goal would really be to finish in the top 10 but I am focusing more on going clean right now. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Twin Recap

This is going to be short and sweet because my lunch break is almost over:(

Gatsby was fabulous at Twin last weekend. We ended up only schooling on Saturday because the weather was so crummy, the footing wouldn't have been good by Sunday. Unfortunately one of the horses in my group coliced and needed emergency surgery(I believe he is recovering well) so it was just me and Gatsby and another lady who is just starting eventing and kept us company:)

As I said, the weather was crummy and Gatsby was very fresh. We also hadn't schooled XC in about a year and I was super nervous. When I get nervous I generally stop riding well and let me bad habits get the better of me...I could tell we were headed this way, which usually results in disaster:( Thank goodness Alexis reminded me that I actually CAN ride my horse and everything ended up alright:)

We jumped through both water complexes, the coffin, and pretty much everything else on the course. We even got over the U-log on the hill that got us eliminated! On the first try! We also jumped the corner and the ditch and wall, both of which I remember being nervous about before our first Training. The best part? Nothing looked big or intimidating to be at all! Suffice to say, we got the double thumbs up to enter Training for next month:)

He had Sunday off and when I rode on Monday I had a mild heart attack. Gatsby was not behaving up to my standards and maybe I was just getting frustrated and not handling it well but it was one of our worst rides since moving to DK. Also, he felt off on his left hind. It wasn't major, it just didn't feel like he was tracking up evenly. I decided to give him Tuesday off and let Alexis assess in our lesson yesterday.

I got to the bard yesterday and had another mild heart attack when I found a HUGE bite taken out of my horse's neck!!! (Shoulda taken a picture!). We were already running late so I scrubbed with betadine and spayed with furazol and hoped he would be fine, which he was, thank god! Our lesson was pretty much fabulous. He started off just like he had on Monday and it was extremely helpful to have Alexis there to help me work through it. Once he settled, he was fantastic. We even got some really good trot lengthenings! We also worked on his resistance in downward transitions. Every time he would brace against me in the transition I would make him rein back until he rounded up, then we would continue forward. This helped tremendously! We definitely have a ton more work to do in that area but I am glad to have a tool I know works. We also had some canter issues, similar to Monday, but I think those stemmed from a combination of his resistance and my frustration as we eventually did get some nice work.

Tonight I am off to NYC (in lieu of Japan). Alexis will ride Gatsby on Saturday and Tuesday and he will get a little break before we get down to business preparing for Twin.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Training It Is!!!!


Will recap schooling at Twin later:)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

We're still here...

Everything has been kind of hectic lately and I just haven't felt like updating. Last week I was only able to get out to ride once which sucks but at least I had a really nice ride! Also, due the the traumatic events that have recently occured in Japan, my trip is postponed indefinitely. It's sad but honestly I am just SO thankful we weren't there! All of my love goes out to those effected by this devastating situation.

On Monday I had a really nice dressage ride. I have been starting my rides with 10-15 min of lateral work at the walk and this helps SOOOOO much!!! When I ask for the trot Gatsby is already in a working mindset and it is much less of a fight. We did a few extensions and some more side pass work which he is slowly but surely starting to get. I also have been working on haunches in, he always stiffens up a lot when I ask for this so that is something we will have to work through:-/.

Tuesday we had another fantastic jump lesson; we kept it short and low since we will be schooling at Twin this weekend. Alexis set up some XC-like questions, reeeeaaallly tough bending lines and some offset verticals. I was horrified everytime he told me a new course! But, true to form, Gatsby jumped like a champ and I am very confident heading in to this weekend. Ever since my bad fall in Feb of 2009 I have been wimpy on XC but I am starting to feel that turn around!

I also talked to Alexis a little about what level I should enter for Twin. We both agreed that I should wait to decide until after schooling but Alexis said he was 99% confident I would be going Training! This is SUPER exciting news for us. Looking back, I know we weren't ready to move up when we did and I regret it now because those outings caused most of my insecurities and therefore more problems for us. I do feel like we are ready now though; Gatsby is much more attentive, responsive, and ride-able, aaaand our dressage has gotten heaps better! So, I will wait to send my entry until Monday but I have T checked for now;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a Weekend!

I was pretty much exhausted after a long work week so I wasn't planning on doing much this weekend, I had us scheduled for a long conditioning hack on Saturday and a light dressage day on Sunday. Things did not end up going quite as planned but I was very happy with our work anyways:)

On Saturday I was all set for our first hack out to the galloping track. Thankfully I decided to walk around in the arena first to make sure he was calm enough to handle the outing all on his own. True to form he was more than a little feisty and I ended up walking around for about 45 minutes with about 5-10 minutes of trotting working mostly on shoulder-in and some leg yields to keep him focused and relaxed. When we finally ventured out on the trail he was a superstar, even when the old man on the farm next door starting firing his gun off as we were walking around the track. I had visions of Gatsby hearing the gunshot, shooting out from underneath me and disappearing forever. Fortunately my horse is apparently much more reliable than I had thought and with a toss of the head and a few steps of prancing, we were safely on our way home. I think our total ride ended up 5 minutes of trotting, 1 hr 10 min of walking, a little shorter than I had planned but I didn't really have a choice, what with the target practice and all.

I headed out on Sunday with plans for a light dressage school. However, he was absolutely fantastic and I decided to take the opportunity to work on some lengthenings, sitting trot, and lateral work. Can I just say I LOVE my horse! That was definitely one of the BEST dressage schools we have ever had. He was just so responsive and relaxed. He did have some confusion when I started introducing side pass so we will have to work on that but seeing as it was his first time, I'm not too worried. His lengthenings are getting better every ride and his shoulder-ins are actually starting to be quite lovely. I even had a friend who was previously afraid of getting on him say that after seeing him go she actually kind of wanted to try riding him:)

This week unfortunately will be a little cramped because I am going home again this weekend. He will have today off and then I am planning on doing trot sets tomorrow, dressage on Wednesday and a jumping lesson on Thursday. This will be our last jump school before schooling at Twin so I have my fingers crossed that it will be successful!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Somebody pinch me...

Or at least give me my horse back because there is no way this calm, collected, thoughtful steed I've been riding lately in a snaffle bit is actually my horse. Whoever stole my crazy, knuckle-headed, 17.3 OTTB, please return him immediately. Or don't actually. Because this new beast I'm riding is pretty darn fancy and I am falling more and more in love with him every day.

Incase you couldn't tell, we had another fantastic jumping lesson on Wednesday. We worked on a grid - bounce, bounce, on stride - and he was just fabulous so we moved on to some course work. None of the jumps were huge - we kept them around 3'3-3'6- but my horse was spectacular. We worked on the same things we have been and threw in a ton of bending lines and rollbacks to make me really work on keeping that right shoulder from popping out as it tends to. I don't know what happened but something has clicked and he is really starting to get it. He took off from the base of the jumps at most of our fences and the ones where we had an off distance he took it long instead of chipping in that extra, retarded stride like we usually do.

Basically, I love my horse. I am canceling tonight's dressage sesh to go out to dinner in SF with Daniel and then will do a long conditioning hack tomorrow and some dressage on Sunday.

I ordered him some new shipping boots because mine are long gone and found these super cute plaid ones with a matching fleece sheet! I cannot wait for them to arrive!!