Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Gaited Dressage Wonder

I think today, I'm going to take a minute to talk about a horse that does not belong to me but I have been riding for the last couple of years. Although, I have been schooled and competed in saddleseat, it is not my first choice of discipline. But Khakie (aka KO, blonde pony, Khakie-man, turd etc.) is a different case. Due to his up and down health over the last four-five years from multiple illnesses, it is crucial that Khakie gets exercise six days a week. His mother, a close friend of the family, is a super busy business woman and needs help keeping him exercised. So, here's where I come in! Khakie had solid gaited training when I first started riding him and I got better at understanding his gaits/cues with time and the help of a gaited trainer. When the sicknesses came, there was lots of rehabbing done which meant starting from the beginning and helping him learn some of my cues as well. This is how its been for years. His mother has also branched out a bit with some driving lessons for her and KO and she asked me to do a little dressage with him just to keep his mind busy. That was all I needed to hear! First came the figures which was not all that easy dealing with a horse who has only ever gone straight in his entire riding career. Next came the laterals: leg-yields, shoulder-fore & shoulder-in. He was not all that enthusiastic with travers, but we're getting there. Walk pirouettes are really coming along and boy is he a champ at backing! My favorite thing thus far though is definitely the canter. Poor Khakie! Many times this horse has attempted cantering under saddle with different, a Saddlebred trainer, a TWH trainer, an eventer, a dressage professional, etc.and each time the outcome was very similar to that of a crab, legs moving rapidly sideways/diagonally/semi-straight. It was not comfortable or pretty to look at, so for awhile we ditched the idea. But since moving to NC and currently lacking a ring, I have had to get rather creative in my riding. We have a 5 acre open lot at the back of the property which is currently not in use so I have claimed it as my "hill arena" and only dry place to ride after rain/snow. With this I have been able to help in Khakie's cantering dilemma. After 6 months, Khakie can officially and confidently canter straight on the correct lead and perform 20m circles with ump and enthusiasm, HUZZAH! Now we still have our days where he acts like the red-head w/ blonde hair that he is with his little fiery temper but those are far and few. He goes to work trying to attempt whatever tasks I put in front of him being gaited or dressage and because of his quick thinking picks them up with ease. It makes me proud that a horse I have learned on can still learn from me and be good at it too even though it is not very conventional to his breed. Move over Warmbloods and Arabs, Khakie's hot on your tails!

Although this is not a lovely picture of him under saddle being the gaited dressage phenom that he shows that Khakie is still very good at something, taking naps in the mud!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

First blog of the new year...Yay! Well, let me start with Happy New Year! I hope anyone reading this had a safe and fun night last night bringing in 2011. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me and my mom. Although we did not suffer any safety issues so to speak, our way of bringing in the "New Year" was far less than happy :( Since moving to NC, we have learned many new things about our new neighbors including that there is no such thing as a leash law with dogs, no one feels the need to lock their car/house, and there is always reason to carry a gun! But one thing we were not aware of was the annual lighting of fireworks at private shindigs in the hours leading up to the actual event of the New Year celebration. Needless to say, the horses did not handle the festivities all that well. To make my story short, we spent from 6:00pm to 12:20 in the barn blasting the local pop station to drown out the "works", hand walking in the barn aisle, and feeding Hilton Herballs (perfect sugar free cookies to feed in occassions like these!) until the fireworks ceased and the air was no longer filled with smoke. We got home around 12:30 and promptly crashed, only recognizing the holiday the next morning. At least today we were together as a family, relaxed most of the day and ate a fantastic meal to top it off! Not too bad ;) As a plus, my dad also gifted me and my mother with tickets to the Broadway production of The Lion King at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) this month....I cannot wait, sooo excited!!!

Enough of last night, now to the good stuff: New Years Resolution and Goals! I have decided that I am not breaking things down into specific goals for me or my ponies but instead just general goals that I hope to be reasonably attainable and not just in my riding life but in my personal life as well. Enjoy reading them and maybe as time goes on and if you keep reading (lets hope you do ;)) you can, read that I accomplish a majority of them!

Resolution/Goals for 2011
  • Finish the requirements for my Bronze Medal
  • Qualify for the USDF/GAIG Region 1 Championships and Arabian/Half-Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in whatever level I choose to compete at this year
  • Continue going to lessons, clinics, and any other form of continuing my education in dressage
  • To keep improving myself with every ride on every horse by maintaining patience and an open mind
  • Lose 15lbs to fit into my beautiful new show coat 
  • Generally be healthier with food (portion control) and exercise (actually doing some besides riding!)
  • Go to a play/concert  - currently scheduled for January 19th
  • Enjoy more activities with my family
  • Finish at least 10 books this year
  • Get a new job that will help better support my love of the big 4-legged beasties :)
Until next time, Have a great start to 2011!