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!