Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Dressage in Working Equitation

Monday we had our second working equitation lesson. The pony had overcome her terror of Fergus the bull, although it took her the first half of the lesson to settle into herself. We were somewhat hampered by be waking up without normal feeling in my hands (severe pins and needles and pain). This happens on a semi regular basis and leaves me feeling a bit strange. By the time I arrived I had my hands back but decided to ride Aba in the light rider bitless bridle. It doesn't have the finesse of a bit but less likely for my issues to affect her. My instructor would rather it was a straight side pull without the ability for the noseband to tighten. We will play with that. 

http://www.lightriderbridle.com ( obviously this isn't Miss A)

The first half of the lesson we worked on dressage to improve Our skills to handle the obstacles. 

First take home point: I tend to ask then hold, I need to ask then release or I'm going to be holding forever. My ask is too soft, my release too small.

Secondly, after 28 years riding (minus a few in the middle) I do know which trot diagonal I am on, I need to think more consciously about this and stop looking down!

Once we had some bend to the inside we started working on shoulder in. Rather than ask Aba to bring her shoulders in from the outside track we turned down the three quarter line then let her quartes "glide" out onto the outside track. We would go on like that then about an 8m circle in two tracks, returning to one track by the outside track. Apparently we achieved this, I felt the shoulder in but thought the circle was pretty suspect.  

We discussed that a pony like Aba is well able to do a six to eight meter circle, a warmblood would need more like 12 for this exercise. Similarly Aba, even at this stage of her training should be doing an 8m circle in the corners of the arena. This led to a discussion of the outside leg. I tend to do nothing with my outside leg as it seems to make Aba more crooked.

When on a circle the outside leg lives in the wedge (a) the natural swing of the leg and 'on the girth' . Where exactly is dependant on the size of the circle, with subtle consistency the horse will learn this. The wedge (b) is behind the girth and with upwards lift here is useful for the lateral movements. On the girth there may be consistent or on off pressure. Behind the girth the pressure should be more of an upwards wave.

So, we got the basics of shoulder in, we sorted out the outside leg issue. We talked about release.

Then we got onto working equitation! 

1 and 6 garrocha barrels
2 gate
3a and b barrels for figure eights
4 corridor with bell
5 bridge
7a, b and c poles for side pass, 2m for training, longer once established
8 bull and garrocha ring
9a to e weave poles
9e and f halt and move cup poles

In this lesson we ignored the gate and worked on the side pass as our only sideways movement. Side pass took some getting from the leaning tower of pony that is Miss A. Once I started PUTTING MY WEIGHT in my OUTSIDE  STIRRUP this got a whole lot easier. Really side pass is like leg yield, the horse is bent away from the direction of movement (interestingly in western pleasure side pass involves no bend) Side pass also involves NO forward so the horse has to rock ?back to get the inside foreleg across the outside one without falling over. The side pass has a way to go but I suspect Aba will find this much easier at home when I am calmer! 

We started with trot on the bridge - the pony can't possibly trot down hill. We still need to work on a square and centered halt between the halt poles. The bull and garrocha seemed easier this time, I used the broom handle garrocha not the short stick. 

We also got two canter transitions onto the left lead, yay!

So my home work is
1. Side pass
2. Halt between 2 markers
3. Shoulder in.
4. Release! ( I know know why the pony LEANS on me)
5. Maintain forward on a 10 m trot circle.
6. Think about where my weight is.
7. Think about where my legs are and how they are asking.
8. Learn to feel my trot diagonals 

Now to find the energy to ride the pony!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

No show

Gale force winds, work, headache, piked.

To record the day

A post is just to record the day. I am too tired, fed up and lazy to do more and no pics from today. 

Tonight I jumped the accelerating pony in the now-just-spongy-enough paddock. She was great, she jumped everything, including possibly the highest jump we have jumped to date, the plastic barrel and pile of poles on the ground. Better yet, she didn't accelerate.

The most interesting part of tonight's ride was the herd of cows amongst the jumps. We left them be and they chose to exit in true spring time fashion, tails over backs and galloping... for about 50m. Aba didn't mind that at all. We unfortunately upset the horse working in the arena next door though ( sorry Sammy)

She was bitless tonight, it suits jumping for her as she likes to balance into your hands into the jump and the bitless makes me feel happier about that. Also superior riding from me seems to occur when I know she is bitless :)

I love that I can walk a circle, pick a jump, have her take two trot strides, put my leg on and she gives me that great rounded just another canter transition jump. It feels amazing. Also she will jump from just about any angle.  Her distances are still a bit wonky, I think I need to work with some ground lines to get her to stand off a bit.  I think she has it figured to trot over, then I ask for forward and jump and she runs out of room.

We got some canter time in after jumping. Canter felt better, leads were a bit worse than yesterday. Yesterday I played with doing some simple changes through trot, it worked when I could get the downward transition to trot to be a bit more settled, currently canter to trot is a bit alarming because sometimes she stops dead.

The freshmans may or may not occur tomorrow, work might take over and there is a forecast for strong winds... Ho hum...

Do you know something? This pony is teaching me not to be scared of getting dumped on jumps...oh how I love thee super pony!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The best laid plans

Today was all about plans awry. I had planned to jump jumps. Sunday, if I don't have to work, I will be going to the local show jumping club freshmans day. So pony and I needed to jump jumps, or I did. Pony can jump fine, I'm terribly out of practice.
1. The cows had pushed the jumps over, I put them back up to some degree so it looked like this.

Yes, that is the pony's ear in the corner. And big black thunder clouds.

2. Rosie wanted to play, pony said NO and nearly stomped Rosie.

Cute pony ears. Ten seconds before, evil pony hunted Rosie.

3. It was too slippery, pony says she can't jump when it has rained. I said yes, just a few trot and pops, we didn't fall over but it wasn't pretty.

4. As I was leaving I noticed one of the other horses had his mouth stuck in his rug. Ten minutes of thoroughbred madness ensued, crisis averted.

Ugh, I'm going to work to recover...

Killing time

First snake bite kitty for the season sees me waiting up to do a midnight check, and look what I found in the land of internet sales:
Apparently this is a Keiffer magnetic brow band with "therapeutic properties" and only for rrp $120. 
What is it supposed to do, magnetise your equines brain into obedience?  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cantering in the twilight.

That sounds a lot more romantic than it was. A nasty headache was my riding companion today and the only things that dragged me to ride the pony were, in no particular order
- I had to go and feed her anyway
- I wanted to see if the new bit works at home as well as at a lesson
- The spring grass is a growing, fat pony is getting fatter
- Thursdays are non-horse days
- the weather was perfect
- the spectre of the state all welsh show in five weeks.
We practiced trotting the shapes I asked, not just on the track the other horses go in, we did some reasonable canter on mostly the correct leads, I avoided the ever present over use of my inside rein. On the other had I was kicking her up far too much. Mostly because my jumping whip (nice and loud, not painful) was in the other car and I had to ride with my dressage whip which I don't like using. This pony is not a forward thinking person! Well, not under saddle anyway.

Miss A was remarkably settled, usually the twilight sees her spooking out the corners and becoming an  inside out pony. Best of all she wasn't grunting, groaning or pulling faces, I think her ulcers are improving, I wonder if it is a coincidence that she had her first probiotic dose last night.

We also played with long rein, nose on the dirt trot and turning from my posture only. I like playing this game with her because she can get so tense and lean into my hands and drop her back. After doing this she is always softer and more responsive. 

Happy post ride pony :) " What,  I wasn't trying to steal the pretty show horses breakfast" face.

She is becoming so shiny. I spent some extra time coat stripping tonight which she loves, put her plaits back in her mane and told her to behave until I see her again on Friday.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Super Harness Pony

Tuesdays, as you will soon discover, are all about carriage driving. A group of ten or so drivers meet at one of the drivers (JC, as she will subsequently be called) farms and go for a drive-out in the nearby public parkland. We also have use of her dressage arena, marathon obstacles and cones course, as well as the pooled knowledge of all the drivers. I count it a privilegeto be able to join in and it has done heaps for my confidence, not to mention the pony's fitness and bravery.

I get up early, drive the half hour to the pony, feed, get all my mountains of gear packed up then  float 50km in the opposite direction. Mad....but so worth it.
Just heading out, long pony is poking her nose out, but soo shiny.

45 mins and about 8 km in, just heading for home.

K and J2 driving Phoenix, the flying Arabian Pony, far in the distance, Aba and I taking our time. I like her to be able to go at our pace so practice stay back then catch up. She is also walking because when she gets tired and stops moving properly I am not keen on the amont of concussion to her feet and joints on the packed gravel road. She is wearing Easy-boot Glove hoof boots on all four feet so she is happy to move out.
Moving along, big harness pony trot, aka, knees around her ears. We had some great canters as well today by my borrowed photographer had to hang on, not take photos at that point. We worked on getting her to bend properly through her corners and trying to get her to lift in front, her penchant is for going along like a broken down third world pony. When we got back I took her though a chose your own adventure MO (marathon obstacle) and drove some cones. We didn't smash any today. 
After our drive it was lunch, discuss all things horse and harness. I arranged to have my carriage raised 120mm to improve my driving position.  ( thanks to JC's industrious husband) 

Miss A has been getting a little reluctant to go into the float lately (takes a few tries and she just isn't committed to forwards) so before leaving Aba had a take yourself into the float lesson with one of the drivers who is better at body language than me. We went home and practiced and I think we are back to how things normally are ( walk straight in). She was a little perplexed by coming out at home, then having to get back in the float.

This was my view whilst unpacking the car, soaking hay and making up tomorrow's feeds. I love spring time!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Gastric ulcer pony does Working Equitation in a Pelham bit

Today we got ourselves in gear and had our first Working Equitation lesson. It was great. The pony was more concerned about certain obstacles than I had expected but overall was pretty good. She had a particularly good look at the "bull" , not once, not twice, but EVERY SINGLE time we passed it, but only when it was on our left. Really pony? There was a lot of inexpert riding on my part but things can only improve from here.

Halt, not quite centered between the poles but nice anyway. Note Fergus the bull in the background
The Garrocha was fun, and she was a star at the bridge and backing through the corridor
We also got some lovely moments
Note that pony is actually giving her jaw whilst at the same time tracking up : winner! This change may have something to do with the Mullen mouth Pelham and forked reins we tried today, I had a happy pony. We spent some time getting the right fit. My instructor describes her as having the most fleshy mouthshe has ever seen. We ended up putting her in a wider bit and adding rubber bit guards. The forked reins mean you can adjust the point at which the curb kicks in, unlike using two reins or a rounding which means both act all the time. She seems to prefer poll and jaw pressure to tongue, lips and bars.
In follow up to yesterday's blog: it's the ulcers. Poor pony. She is fidgety and bloated and miserable because her BF went competing on the weekend and she spent her time wandering and calling. Blasted gastric ulcers, she is on omeprazole (gastrozol) 100% of the time and she still has flare ups. The fact that she was wormed this week probably didn't help. She will be on sucralfate and probiotics for the next two weeks and hopefully things will settle. 

Overall, I had a wonderful day today, Aba is such a trooper.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Grumpy pony, beautiful day

Today was beautiful, the sun shone, it wasn't hot or windy, it all should have been beautiful like this post ride photo:
But it wasn't because the pony was GRUMPY pony today. I saddled her up and rode her in the arena and it was a struggle ( but she did get the correct canter leads when I held up my end) so I gave up,swapped saddles and bits and went for a forrest ride.
That was better but there was still a lot of grunting, stopping, chewing me and her reins when I got off and walked a bit. The forrest was beautiful as usual, we saw kangaroos and a few dog walkers, she waded a creek without complaint.

Perhaps it is her gastrics ulcers back again, perhaps her feet are bothering her, perhaps it is because it is spring and she is a mare. 

Or, perhaps it is because I keep doing this to her:
Anti fungal mane wash and ten minutes soak, she HATES it. And the plaits and neck rug to stop the mane rubbing.
But sometimes, a fat round pony has to stop itching!
Sorry pony, it's for you own good.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

The grass is always greener

In the case of Aba the grass really is greener on the ther side of the fence.

Springtime in Southern Australia is green warm and sunny, and the horses founder. Owning a welsh cob here is like sitting on a time bomb, will it be this year? Over the past two weeks I have been decreasing Aba's feed and trying to keep up her workload despite having a head cold. The weird thing is that she has STILL been gaining weight, and crestiness, by the day. This I did not understand, she is in a small paddock grazed to the ground, where was the food coming from?

Enter Houdini Pony. Earlier this year I electrified her fence due to several escape attempts and a few successes. Today when I walked the paddock to see how much feed was out there I made a gruesome discovery. By the power of positive thinking she had killed my solar electric charger. No electric means that in the last two days she has managed to eat down the two to three meter strip outside her lower paddock fence. That grass was hip height and gone to seed....no wonder the pony was uncomfortable on the gravel road today. No real heat in her feet, no increased pulses, minimal response to hoof testers but the foot soreness was enough for me. Food jail it is.

 The fence is temporarily electrified again, the hay is getting soaked, the hard feed halved and the rugs put away. Hopefully crisis averted. Time will tell.

On a side note, being new to blogging I didn't take pictures, update coming tomorrow.

Tomorrow is now:
Repaired solar fence energiser, designed and built by my very clever husband :)

Aba's pruning job

Friday, 19 September 2014

Blog or die trying

If you have wandered on over to read this, welcome. Head over to about me and about the pony to meet us.

After getting hooked on reading other horse blogs I started blogging in my head, that obviously wasn't healthy so here I am. I hope this blog will be a place I can get out of my head and into my life, gain some perspective on the trials and tribulations of riding a round pony in a world of horses and meet some new people.

So sit tight, it's a bumpy ride.