Saturday, April 20, 2013

Epic Update!!!

Per usual, I suck at getting on here and updating even when I have oodles to talk about. Life just seems to keep getting in my way! Enough loly-gagging, let's get to updating!

I have had lessons, clinics and my first show of the season since my last update so I'm gonna move quickly...

4 lessons were had before the first show. Two were with Lynn and two with my mystery clinician...drum roll please......Ms. Linda Zang!!! Again, this may not be so exciting to some but goodness it is to me! If you click the link I've attached you can see a small blip of some of her many amazing accomplishments.  Between Lynn and Linda, Buddy and I are getting quite a work out/tune up for this show season. Let's review the highlights:
 - keep him pushing forward into my hands
 - keep his shoulders up for more airtime
 - always check for bend-ability and make sure I have him in my outside rein
 - I tend to lean so in order to right Buddy's sometime leaning canter, lean the opposite direction of the current lead we are on to straighten everything.
 - lots of transitions from canter-walk-counter in order to lift his shoulders and get him prepped for the changes
 - in the half-passes remember that it is a variation of travers and make sure the outside eye is looking at the letter to which we are going for better alignment.
 - outside rein to half-halt in half-pass
 - don't quit before the halt is finished, make sure all four feet around square underneath (we tend to park out in the back or leave one foot behind!)
 - don't be afraid to push for more!

I'm sure I'm forgetting some very key points, but these are the ones that are constantly on my mind while I'm riding. Of course I'm still on my quest for perfect position and after watching videos of my lessons and the show, I still have a long way to go ;) But, it's definitely improving and I'm sure Buddy appreciates that!

Well, the NCAHA All Arabian was the first show of the season for me. Although I ended up missing out on going to the Spring Break Dressage Show in Williamston with the rest of the NSTC team, this ended up being a smart decision because it was 40 min. from home, no hotel fees and it was a much easier start to Third level than an open show would be. Buddy tried his bum off and gave great trot work getting consistent 7-8 scores, the canter was a little braced but balanced. The mediums/extensions were mediocre because I was fretting too much about the changes. Being the over-achiever that I am, I signed up for 4 Third level tests over the weekend without having confirmed changes...Oy Vey! Really?!?! What was I thinking (rather I think that was "wishful thinking!")? Anyways, I literally lucked out in the first test because Boo just kind of fell into both changes. The judge gave us a very generous 66+% which means.....I FINALLY EARNED THAT BLASTED USDF BRONZE MEDAL!!!! WAHOOOOO!!!!!

Our USDF Bronze Medal Ride
(photo credit to Tracy Kelsey)

The second test that day did not pan out as great, Buddy was exhausted and everything ended up being lackluster and the changes were non-existant which resulted in weird counter-canters both directions. We tried again the next morning and got two very late changes but still managed to squeak in a 63%. Not bad at all for Buddy's first time at Third! But due to the fact that our changes are still not 100%, I have decided to forgo the May show and probably the June show for now. This way we can keep working and not worry about trying to qualify for anything.

Ok, fast-forward to tonight...I decided to ride both boys tonight since it was so nice outside. Buddy had a lesson with Linda on Wednesday, the Farrier came Thursday and it rained BUCKETS yesterday, so today was the first ride since our lesson. We worked on maintaining centered work. Lots of transitions and leaning in the proper directions, and wouldn't you know it?! Clean changes can occur when all the right pieces are in the correct place! What a wonderful feeling! Next was DJ. He hasn't been getting a whole lot of attention while I have been taking Buddy all over. I am convinced something is just not right with his saddle because I have much better rides when we are bareback than saddled. So, off I went bareback on a dusk trail ride with my boy. We made it around the property and back to the ring. I decided to try and ride him exactly the way I have been riding Buddy lately and again another lightbulb moment. I had collected canter, half-pass and a clean controlled change with no saddle. I was ecstatic! We played with trot-piaffe transitions and really that was just the icing on the cake. I think he had fun tonight. Well, I know that was quite a bit without much detail but as always I promise to change my bad blogging ways and update more often with better attention to detail. Until next time, happy trails!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Insert Witty Title Here...

I'm not gonna has been excruciating trying to write this blogpost. I am officially suffering from writer's block!!! So far, I have tried three four FIVE times to write something here and either deleted it or just got up and left it. Nothing seemed to stir my creative juices as of late. I could blame it on the weather and life in general but I feel that this is becoming my crutch cop-out. No more! I will write about something with purpose... Ok, blocked again. Damnit. So, in attempt to free myself of "the block" I ask myself, "What does one literary genius (HA!) do when she is suffering from 'the block'?" Duh! Of course she goes online to Barnes and Noble to spend her Christmas gift cards on an insane amount of books! Yippee!

Now, let me back up before I delve into my recent purchases. I am currently reading The Seven Deadly Sins of Dressage by Douglas Puterbaugh & Lance Wills as well as Janet Foy's Dressage for the Not-So-Perfect Horse. Both of which are great learning tools on how to handle dressage emotionally, mentally and physically. One of my new purchases though is an easy read and really I was half-way done with it an hour after I took it from the B&N box. But it is now becoming dear to my heart! It is Jenna Smith's Dressage: Eight Secrets to FEI by an Adult Amateur Who Did It! She is very direct and too the point about the steps someone like me needs to really focus on to obtain the coveted FEI rider status. Mmm, I love learning :)

The rest of my book purchases were not as equine enthusiastic...2 biographies and a 4 book young adult fantasy series (No, it wasn't Twilight or that smutty fan fiction that developed out of that mess!). So out of the books and into the saddle...

My riding has been so sporadic lately between rain, snow, bad footing and a few other natural disasters that I know I'm forgetting. I do try on the in-betweens to be somewhat productive. DJ and I have taken yet another direction with his semi-retirement, wait for it...Freestyles!! Now, unfortunately his 19 yr. old Arabian body is having a very difficult time maintaining Third level work so, I have dropped him back to the bottom and we are going to attempt the new Training Level Freestyles in order to get our feet wet. Buddy is still working diligently on his Third level work but again the bad footing isn't necessarily the best for trying to teach him flying changes. But I do have a small remedy for that. Many lessons are scheduled in the next three (yes, I said THREE!) weeks, two at NSTC and two with my mystery teacher (who shall be named within the next two blog posts).  So, life is getting exciting again (I hope!).

On a different note....Even though we are barely into 2013, I have decided on a major equine related plans for 2014 that I am very excited about but do not want to jinx myself so, unfortunately I will not be able to talk about it for quite sometime :( But until that fateful day when I do decide to share my exciting plans with you internet readers, you can sit and try and guess! (Author's Note: Please don't hold your breathe in hopes that I will break my silence early because I won't and I really do not want to be responsible for any untimely deaths ;). In reality though, you probably have better things to do with your time and will find out when I post it. At that time, You will probably say to yourself, "I vaguely remember her mentioning that a long time ago" or "Really, she had us waiting for that?!?" Either way, I am still excited and can't wait to share the news :)

I understand this post was a bit all over the place. You probably have already written it off that I was drunk, which I'm not, although I may be suffering from severe fatigue since I did decide to try a new workout place today which resulted in me being in bed by 8:30! Oops :) Well, hopefully next time there will be a more coherent blogpost. Happy trails until next time everyone!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

She's Alive!!!

That's right internet peeps, I'm alive! Although I planned a blog post the day after the last one I posted, I came down with that dreaded flu plaque that everyone and their brother was getting. It kicked my butt!!! I didn't go to work or the barn so getting on the computer to write about my New Year's resolutions and pony escapades was entirely out of the question. But now I'm back and I've got some catching up to do ;)

I'm going to make this quick and pretty straight forward since I've got cooler stuff to get to...

1. FOR GOD'S SAKE, I am getting that blasted USDF Bronze Medal this year if it kills me!
2. Qualify for Arabian Sport Horse Nationals in Sport Horse Show Hack, Third Level (Open and ATR) and MAYBE Fourth (only ATR)
3. Qualify for BLM Championships at Third Level
4. Qualify for GAIG Championships at Third Level
5. Attend at least one clinic (ridden or audit)
6. Work out at least twice a week (and no this does not include riding!)
7. Travel someplace besides VA and NC
8. Read 24 books (Audio books and Graphic Novels do count :P)
**This next one is not really a resolution but an attempt at bettering my daily life...always be thankful in the morning when I wake up for the life I live. It's really a pretty great one ;)

I love clinics, lessons and really any opportunity I can get that will help further my knowledge and love of dressage. So, when the occasion arises that there is a chance to take a lesson with a dressage great, one does not simply say "Sorry, I can't," or "Oh my, isn't that a bit expensive?" No, you do not think about price, distance or weather, you load up your spicy black horse who has not been ridden in a week and ask what time the lesson starts! Now, I can't tell you who the person is yet. And in all honesty, you may not really even be that impressed when I do tell you who it is, but that's okay. I have been DYING to take a lesson with this person and I finally got the chance! Luckily, the weather was great and Buddy was a star. His mother, on the other hand, is  apparently a mess in the saddle!

Apparently, my horse looks like two different horses in the front and back end when we begin our workouts. I have been told that Buddy can have a lazy or "weird" backend. It does not match the activity of his front end thus making him look occasionally uneven. Thus, my lesson was spent fixing a problem that no one had bothered to teach me to fix. So, with lots of moving the haunches away from my inside leg (to activate the inside hind), leg-yielding away from my outside leg (to lift the inside shoulder), and pushing forward into both of my hands, I was able to achieve actual throughness without having World War III with his face. His back was up and he was pushing underneath him and not behind him. How cool! I've only had him for 7 years and am now just feeling this?!?! Man, we are behind the curve! While I was learning this newfound concept, it was also brought to my attention that my shoulders are uneven (right is higher than the left) and my left hand is constantly trying to be the center of attention. Ugh! Like I didn't have enough to work on already! But I have my homework and another lesson scheduled for March when my mystery clinician returns to NC. Until then, it will just have to be a little secret :)

I have a regular lesson scheduled with Lynn when she comes back for her annual "clinics" while she is wintering in FL. I missed the last one due to scheduling with my new job and then the flu plague was still hanging around. So, fingers crossed no sickness or health problems in general for me or the black horse and hopefully the next blog post will happen on schedule! Until then, Happy Trails!