Thursday, March 24, 2011
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
Thursday, March 17, 2011
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
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
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!!
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
- Continue to work on keeping Gatsby relaxed and fluid to his fences. I would love to have him jumping a small course in this new mindset by month end.
Considering we ended our jumping lesson last week with a calm, fluid course set up to 3’6 in a SNAFFLE I am marking this a HUGE SUCCESS!!!!
- Continue to work on keeping him relaxed and FOCUSED in our dressage work.
While our dressage hasn’t improved nearly as drastically as our jumping there has definitely been some improvement and that’s a start. He is slowly but surely building back his topline which is lovely and I am considering this a mark of success.
- Start playing with deeper leg yields and more significant extensions.
This one is a bit iffy. We did do some work with leg yields and extensions but I wasn’t very consistent with it, mostly because I was more focused on my next goal, keeping him straight. As he is getting straighter every day I plan on incorporating these movements into our work more this month.
- KEEP HIM STRAIGHT. I have A LOT of work to do with using my outside aides more effectively and consistently.
I am going to go with success on this one. While we are obviously not perfect all the time I feel like we are making huge progress here and I am having to make fewer and fewer corrections throughout our rides.
- Lunge at least once a week with side reins.
Huge fail. This did not happen even once. Mostly because I realized that I no longer have a surcingle (it disappeared a couple moves ago and I was borrowing one at my old barn) and also because most days I just felt like riding.
- Venture out of the arenas and explore the trails/galloping track at our new home.
Also fail. Between the rain and my busy schedule we didn’t have any good weekend days to explore. Hopefully this month!
- Map out a conditioning plan for this season.
Success! I have a plan mapped out through June at which point I will reassess. I have decided to alternate between a long hack and trot/gallop sets each week. Since he is a thoroughbred and is naturally very athletic his fitness is not a huge issue so I think doing both every week may get him fitter than I actually want him.
- School cross-country fences at home at least once? (This is a maybe because I am not sure how mine/Alexis' schedules will match up on the weekends for the rest of the month.)
Unfortunately this didn’t end up happening. However, we are doing a trip to Twin Rivers this month to school which I am very excited about!
Overall I am going to say February was a big success and I am super excited going into March!
- 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.
- Lots of work on lateral movements. This really plays into my first goal but also continues to keep me focused on his straightness.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Again, a lot to work on but I am confident that we will be able to achieve all of these goals as long as we stay focused and healthy!
Last night we had a pretty good dressage school. He was in one of those "I won't be great but I also won't be an ass" moods. Normally I feel like I sort of go along with what he wants and say "as long as you're not bad I won't make you work" but last night it was a whole new me and I meant business. At the end I was really glad I pushed through his resistance because he did give me some beautiful work. Tonight we have a jumping lesson. I am super excited coming off of last week's but I am also exhausted and not feeling great so we shall see.