Short post due to personal reasons today. I did have one thing that I wanted to talk about though.
Holly has been after me to jump bareback. She loves doing it and thinks that it really improves your base. I don’t necessarily agree with her but I’m terrible at bareback riding in general. I never did it growing up and honestly probably have less than 20 rides as an adult. I’m doing it more often but its still a work in progress.
Friday, I finally decided to hop over the tiniest fence. I didn’t die. I didn’t even come close. Personally, I think Scarlet was making it easy for me because the jump felt smoother than normal. Probably won’t be jumping oxers bareback anytime soon but it was cool to make another tiny milestone.
I ended up not riding at all this weekend. I got a mailer for 6 weeks at a Jui Jitsu gym in the neighborhood and decided to sign up. My first class was on Saturday and I was so freaking sore that I didn’t want to move for the rest of the weekend.
Monday I was still sore so riding was quite interesting. My legs screamed at me when posting. I wanted to try some more lateral work but during the warmup this time. I’m not sure if it was better or worse than if we’d done it after warming up. I did hop over a couple of the smaller jumps at the end of the ride for fun but I didn’t want to do too much as we’ve been jumping a lot lately.
Tuesday we jumped again with Holly. There was a large cross rail already setup. It was definitely higher than i normally set it and I was excited to try it. I changed another single jump to a vertical. We’ve been doing more cross rails recently and I want to make sure that we are doing “harder” fences now. Since there was a measuring tape lying around. I decided to measure it. It was between 2’3″ and 2’6″. That’s seems so high when standing next to it. I ended up not actually jumping it though it’s the same height as the white line. Not on purpose, just that it wasn’t one of the jumps I ended up going over. I feel silly when I change a jump and then end up not using it. What a waste of effort. I also set up a smaller oxer. There was one that was set up already but it was around 3′. Definitely too big for us.
I’d warmed up before changing the jumps around. We started off with the small cross rail a few times. Then I aimed us at the large crossrail. We ended up with no freaking momentum. It was an awkward jump. But we did it again and it was a much nicer jump. The first time we headed to the oxer, I was a bit anxious about it as I expected something stupid like not taking the long spot again. Being hesitant caused us to come in with less of a quality canter than I wanted. Scarlet jumped it nicely despite that. Since it went well, I immediately cantered around again and wasn’t worried about it at all this time. We hit it better and then went on the bending line to the small crossrail. Both of those jumps he took a longer spot and jumped well. Super confused as to why he didn’t want to do the long spot with the other line. Horses. They are weird sometimes.
Thursday Holly and I went on a trail ride. I was having a bad day and wanted something simple. Scarlet behaved himself quite well right from the bat. Though he did try to nip Uno’s butt and basically wanted to move to the right until we were mooshed right against Uno’s side. Such a silly boy. He loves Uno so much its so silly. We looped around the base of the hills twice. On the first round, we did a little hill off to the side of the normal path. It was pretty wide and steep. Very good for horse butts. I’d like to try to do it more as a muscle building exercise. AS we were heading back down the hill, a noisy ups truck went by making a whistling noise and the horses freaked. Uno tried to bolt and Scarlet danced in place. He kept it pretty contained though and came back to me well. We finished the second lap without any issues so I was pretty happy with him. Such a good boy sometimes.
With the new jump setup, I was super excited to go riding on Friday. Holly and I were planning on trying them all out. But when I got out there, I had another surprise. The barn owner had redone the footing! The footing had had some deep places and was piled up against the kickboards around the arena. When I got there on Friday, it had been moved around and was now a uniform three inches thick. She had also had the round pens redone and the other two arenas are next. It was fantastic! It even felt fantastic when we were riding around. The footing in the jump arena had always been better than the rest of the arenas but it was noticeable that there was no floundering due to deeper footing. All the hard spots where the old jumps had been had been drug out as well.
Holly had set up the jumps as I was pulling in. They were set low because she wasn’t sure how high I wanted them. I have been really conservative with the height I’ve been using. I need to set them higher next time. Scarlet can handle it. I’m not going to just set them at three feet or anything but I’d like to set larger cross rails and inch up the verticals until I get a feel for how high is comfortable for the both of us.
After warming up, we started jumping. I did a few trotting jumps of the cross rails. I need to put some trot poles in front of these jumps and get us moving forward to those. We lose all steam unless I shove him at the jumps. He is either not comfortable with trotting a jump or is just lazy. I’m not sure. After that, we tried a bending line from a cross rail to a small vertical. It rode in an easy eight and was quite fun. We did it again and got a bit more forward as Scarlet was getting excited so it rode in a seven then. There’s lots of potential fun with this new line.
I wanted to try the other long side line. It was set at a three-ish stride. It used a vertical and then the gate fence we have. The vertical was actually set about two holes higher than I normally set the poles and it rode fine (there’s my gage for how to set the rest of the fences, lol). But the whole line didn’t ride well. Scarlet is small and has pony strides. I did ride forward into the line with our jumping canter but we got it in three and a chip. It was a bad chip but Scarlet is good and got us over. When I’d caught my breath, I decided to try again.
I pushed when we landed in the line and we were moving to a nice long position for the gate. It wasn’t high, we’d jumped this exact fence many times before so I was sure we could make it. It was a long takeoff but it was a comfortable one. Scarlet decided no. He put basically a 3ft fourth stride in there. We lost all momentum and he somehow got us over the fence. I levitated out of the saddle. Literally, straight up like a foot out of it and came down hard on his back. I seriously thought I was going to come off. It spooked me quite a bit because it was a really bad decision from Scarlet to take that extra stride. Even Holly was confused as to why he didn’t take it. I didn’t try that line again. I think I’m going to try the line at some later date with just poles where the second fence was and try to get the three strides where all Scarlet can do is trip over some poles.
They kept the triple fences but moved them to the middle of the arena. They were on a 10′-21′ bounce to one stride. I was a bit concerned about this as I’d never done a bounce. Holly tried it first. She chose to trot in and canter out. It rode okay. She got a better stride with more of a push the second time through. I figured it looked okay but I was going to canter in since we are terrible at trot fences anyway.
I cantered us around the corner on a good stride. The stride before the first fence, Scarlet darted to the right. It felt like he’d been surprised by the jumps so I wasn’t mad. I actually asked him, “What? Did those surprise you?”. I circled us around and we headed for it again. He darted to the right again. I gave him a smack this time as he had no excuse for doing that. I represented and we trotted in. We trotted the second fence and cantered out on two strides. Small horse…
We did that a couple more times and managed to get the canter off the first fence but still had the two strides coming out. It was getting late at that point so I decided we could call it a night. We jumped a lot of new fences and had fun. We have a bunch of things to work on and I think it will be good for us to have new fences to play with. My fingers are crossed that moving fences becomes a much more common thing than once every two years at my barn.
This last week or two have been extremely stressful with work. My team is having issues getting work done in the time they are expecting (not fully our fault as things start to explode in our face without really being anything we can control) and so management is scrutinizing all of us closely. This does not make for a comfortable work environment. Riding has been less working on improving specific things and more on just moving around and spending time with my horse. It’s all my little stressed out brain can handle at the moment.
Tuesday was the day after my lesson. I had thought initially about trying out the circle exercise with the fences but scrapped that when a lesson started working in the jump arena. It’s not worth trying to compete for space there. I decided that I didn’t want to do much more in the arena after my warm up. I haven’t done any dedicated two-point work for the past few days so I thought I’d do some walking two-point work around the barn. It’s good practice and more interesting than just walking circles in the arena.
We headed around the barn and as we approached the trail, I thought we’d go down it a bit and then turn around. We headed out and Scarlet started to trot. I wasn’t expecting it but I wasn’t going to fight it. We headed out, got past some dirt mound and then he spun away. I almost lost my balance but managed to sit and pull him up. It was unusual for him. He doesn’t love the trail but he’s not tried to bolt and spin away from it in a long time.
We worked up and down that one section of the trail for a handful of minutes. I’d urge him forward and then he’d try to spin and go sideways back to the barn. I’m surprised thinking about it later but I didn’t get frustrated. I was frustrated but I wasn’t upset with him. I didn’t spur him except to stop the mindless sideways movement. I urged him a step or two forward and then I asked him to stop. It worked eventually and we made it down to the old turning point in the trail. It was a little disappointing that he freaked at the trail but there are a lot of factors:
We haven’t been on the trial in a while. He needs repetition/habit to keep himself happy with whatever we are doing.
We hadn’t worked super hard so he was pretty energetic still.
It was dusk so there were weird shadows all over the place
There was a weird bush that had grown and appears suddenly when walking past the dirt piles
There was a horse in the back arena and he was loathe to leave the company
Any of those could have been the cause. I think the important thing was I managed to maintain my zen and work him through it without muscling him through the panic.
Thursday, Holly texted me that they were moving the jumps around in the arena. They haven’t changed the design of the jumps in there since I moved in so it was pretty exciting. There are a bunch of new lines and a bunch of singles that can be easily looped together for fun exercises. I didn’t tackle all of them as I was exhausted but we popped over one jump in a circle a few times for fun.
As we were cooling out, I took us down the trail to about the halfway point and then turned around. Scarlet was a bit worried but there weren’t any fights so I count that as a win.
Holly and I are planning on jumping a lot on Friday so I’m super excited for that!
Recently my trainer and my schedules hadn’t lined up to for a lesson. Monday they finally did! I arrived at the barn ad 4:30 and ended up having to wait. There were some itty bitty kids who were supposed to have shown up an hour earlier for their walk trot lesson that were just getting on then. It’s slightly annoying but I didn’t have anything else planned for the night so I sat waiting.
Brad had just been flatted before I got there so he was eating some hay in his stall. I didn’t want to pull him away from his dinner until the very last moment. I’d just dealt with Scarlet attitude the day before due to riding while it was dinner time. I really didn’t want to have to deal with another horse having attitude.
Sitting in the barn turned out to be quite amusing. I overheard a ton of things from the teens in there. One girl complained that her stomach hurt too much to clean out the hooves of her pony and got another girl to do it. I offered her some antacids but she said she was just really hungry. (WTF? I don’t think I’ve EVER been too hungry to care for my horse on my own) This brought up that another girl hadn’t cleaned Brad’s feed (or the sweat marks) after riding him just before me. She said she’s never cleaned his feet. (KIDS ARE THE WORST SOMETIMES!) Another girl was bemoaning how her horse search wasn’t going anywhere. Her budget was $3000 and the horse needed to be able to go around a 2’9″ course with room to grow. She wasn’t finding anything good and kept shooting down names the other kids suggested with comments of “He/she’s the worst.”
At about ten minutes till I needed to ride, I got Brad all situated and walked out. He’s always got a mare glare going but he had an extra few wrinkles in his nose at being taken out again so soon. I told him he’d have to just suck it up. We warmed up while the tinies finished their walking cooldown. After a bit of walk and trot, we trotted over some ground poles with the goal of maintaining an even pace in between them. We did the same at the canter. It wasn’t perfect the first time through but I got the hang of supporting with both legs just the right amount after that.
Trainer D started us off with a really good exercise that I’m totally going to attempt to implement with Scarlet. We started by going over the lower blue fence in the picture on the left lead. We approached it on the long angle from the top of the arena. My goal was to then turn left, circle around between the grey and top blue fence and approach it again. It ended up with a circular track on the second approach. The first time I went over, I didn’t trust myself or Brad to make the left turn and we ended up awkwardly going around the brown fence to the right. The second time, I looked to the left in midair and steered. We made the turn and it was very nice. We did it to the right with the top blue line coming between the tan fences and then circling around the gray and brown fences.
After getting the warmup fences down, Trainer D laid out a small course. She wanted me to come down the brown line in five strides on the right lead, head up to the upper grey fence, land on the left lead and if it was all going well to go over the pink fence. The pink fence was a little daunting as the filler was a step looking thing with flowers but I knew Brad could do it. We had basically no momentum going into the line first. I wasn’t directing strong enough so Brad wasn’t putting out the effort. I got him moving more forward while doing the right hand turn to the grey fence. We popped over that and I headed for the pink fence. There was no way I wasn’t going to do the reaching exercise. I’m game to hop over ANYTHING if I trust the horse I’m on to do the job. Especially when there is someone else setting the fences up and saying ‘yeah you can do this’. That one came up okay as well.
Trainer D pointed out that I got dead center on the grey fence on my approach. She was pretty happy with that which tickled me. It’s nice to get positive reinforcement on things that I do sometimes.
We did the same line again but added the five stride line coming the other way after the pink jump. We did okay but we stumbled on landing a few times and cut the corners. Brad likes to lean in on turns and is so freaking hard to get to move over when going at speed. Trainer D pointed out that I was approaching the jump great, getting over and then right before Brad lands, I’d drop my chin. This knocked both of us off balance and caused his shoulders to bulge in easier, which made the turns even harder.
With keeping my chin up in mind, I headed to do the fences again. I kept it up and made sure we moved out in the turns to get smoother turns. We landed on the right lead after the grey fence. I asked for a flying change and got it. But that added some spunk to Brad’s step and we charged the pink fence. We took the biggest flyer ever over that fence. I even said “Oh God!” as we were flying. I wasn’t scared of the jump. I felt stable and still had control but it was definitely an “oh shit” moment or a “we’re really doing this” moment. I stayed with him and completed the course. Trainer D said that I did really well coping with the extra long takeoff.
As the final jump, we did the grey to the pink jump again, keeping the pace consistent. It went super well and we called it a night.
Some things Trainer D said was that my hands were following well, I didn’t anticipate the jumps and I did very well keeping him steady with my legs. It’s great to hear all that as I’ve definitely been working on all of that with Scarlet.
I did get to show her some of the videos of Scarlet and I jumping recently. She says he looks really good. I think he does but I’m super biased. I love showing him off to people. I really wish that I had a way to get him over to Trainer D’s for just one lesson with her. It would be so different on him than on Brad. I still love my lessons though. I get great things to practice at home. My goals for the near future are to try the circle exercise to work on long and short approaches having the same pace.
After our oxer breakthrough earlier this week, we’ve not done anything quite that exciting. Mostly just generic working rides. Still a good week though.
Wednesday I did my weekly bareback ride. I try to do them weekly at least. It was colder and windy that afternoon. Scarlet was really energetic and kinda screamy. His neighbor was turned out before I got him out of his stall and that sent his tiny brain into a tizzy. It was a bit difficult to get him tacked up and I thought I might be taking my life into my hands but I did it. He was a bit energetic at first but settled in quite well. I didn’t really focus on doing much with him. I like these rides because it’s really about focusing on myself and how I’m able to ride. I always come away sore though. Specifically in my inner thighs and hip flexors. I really need to do more hip flexor stretches.
Friday was a chill ride with Holly and Uno. Holly was tacked up before me and came to our cross tie to pick us up. We warmed up around the barn and then did a bit of work in the arena and then walked around the barn again. Rides without a real purpose are fun sometimes as well. We turned our boys out together after the ride. After they rolled, both of them walked up to the fence and stared at us. They are such goobers. No, don’t take advantage of the open arena to wander around and have fun boys. Just stare at us.
Sunday I rode by myself. It was when the evening feed was being delivered and Scarlet was kinda an asshole. Not exactly doing anything bad but he had such an attitude. I was not having it and made him work through it. We warmed up then focused on leg yielding both ways. He got stuck with no momentum when we first were doing them. It’s quite difficult to get them going if there is no forward happening. So I asked him to just go a few steps sideways and then forward as soon as we lost that forward feel. We got some okay yields in there. I will need to work on them some more. We also did a bunch of transitions up and down. Our downward from canter to trot still sucks. We don’t have a half halt that gets him reaching forward with his legs yet. Gotta figure out how to work on that first.
After the ride, we cooled down around the barn. I checked his feed as a while back we’d had issues with him getting alfalfa during the morning and evening feed. He retains weight really well and does not need any help with that.
Sure enough, there was alfalfa there. I emailed the barn owner and sent her the above picture. She said she will talk to the guy again and make a bigger sign in hopes that that will be more clear to him. I hope so. I don’t really want to deal with Scarlet getting fatter. Its also quite annoying because I’ve had this convo with her probably 4 times now. Just feed my horse the right hay!!
Monday, I did something that I have avoided doing for a while. I was scared that my greenness would somehow put me and Scarlet into a dangerous situation and he would get hurt. I knew I was probably being a worry wart and that everything would be fine.
After all, it’s not like Scarlet pogos up and down over a jump. We’ve jumped this spread going over normal fences.
But for some reason, I had not been willing to try oxers. I was willing to nudge fences higher and do grids with Scarlet but not oxers.
Monday I was riding by myself and I saw the above fence set up. I thought “Wow that looks really inviting and not all that scary.” I kept looking at it while I warmed up and finally just told myself, “Go over it.” I turned Scarlet down the line, we cantered in and over it. Scarlet loved it. I loved it. So I did it two more times.
Scarlet actually loved it a bit too much. When I tried to circle after the second time, he kept locking onto any fence we came remotely close to. He wasn’t quite willing to throw himself sideways over them but I bet if I’d pointed him anywhere close to the fence, he would have tried to go over.
I don’t know why one type of fence was a bigger obstacle for me than another. It’s not like going up in height or really even putting much of a spread on there. There was just something in my hindbrain telling me not to do that. But now I have. And I’m going to do it again. I’m looking forward to adding oxers to our normal jumps.
Tuesday, I rode with Holly. There was a lesson going on in the jump arena and another person riding as well so it got a little crowded. As is typical of lesson riders, this one didn’t know how to steer well. Scarlet got a bit annoyed as she cantered up our butt and within crop smacking distance of our side. I’d understand if it was a tight space but it really wasn’t. Everyone was riding in different directions and reversing when they felt like it. I dont have a problem with that except when people don’t steer well. After doing most of my warm up and cantering one way, I left that arena to go to the back one.
There, I cantered the other way and then timed myself at the trot while two-pointed. I got up to 2:09. I was pretty pleased with that. After I stretched out a bit, I took us around the barn at the walk to cool down. I’ve been two-pointing during my cool down as a way to practice and build some more muscle. Holly joined us for part of the walk.
Wednesday was quite windy and I was wondering if I was going to be risking myself by riding bareback. But I’d planned on a bareback ride and I want to make sure that I don’t skimp on those as they are really good for me to do. Scarlet was pretty up while grooming due to the wind and his neighbor having been taken out of his pen before I got there.
I was feeling a bit of dread as I climbed on but after a bit of walking, he settled down and worked pretty nicely. I was pretty happy with the work. I really try to focus on me and how I’m riding bareback. I don’t have the support and solidness of my seat that I’d need to get Scarlet to work really well without a saddle so bareback days are focus on Alex days.
I like adding it in because it gives Scarlet a pretty easy ride but still gets him out and works me pretty hard. I’m going to try to make sure I get at least one a week in. I doubt I’ll be trying to do no stirrup November though. That’s just a bit too intense for me.
The weather has been a bit cooler here. It’s lovely to have 70 degree days versus 80+. I’m hoping it stays this way instead of heating back up. Scarlet is loving the cooler weather as well. He’s a bit more frisky and looky though.
Friday the ride started off pretty normal. He was super behind my leg and I kept trying to urge him forward during warm up. He kinda gave me the middle finger unless I was actively spurring him. It was getting quite annoying. Then, we went around the spooky corner and he spooked at something *cough*nothing*cough*. Up we went. Instead of being behind the leg we were now behind the leg AND up and down. SO much fun.
The rest of my warm-up was spent getting him moving forward and staying forward even when approaching that corner. Our normal trot warm up ended up taking about 20 or so more minutes as I circled and circled. After a while, I decided he was just being an ass and wasn’t spooked anymore. I started making him overbend in that corner. I mean really overbend as well. He wanted to peek at the corner and that always makes his back drop and head come up. I was done with his shenanigans so he had to listen. After a few rounds of that, he seemed to give up the game.
We did canter some that day but I don’t think it was very productive. I was pretty tired after a long trot session and he was very sweaty. He has a good start on his winter coat and I can’t decide if I’m going to give him a clip or not. It doesn’t ever really get all that cold in the winter here so I wouldn’t need to worry about blanketing or anything if I do clip. But I’d have to actually do the work and I’m just kinda lazy. lol.
Saturday turned into a jump party. Holly was out at the same time that I was. I walked around putting the jumps up to higher cross rails before I hopped on Scarlet. We started warming up and then Kristen showed up on her horse. That turned into a delightful time of us all taking turns jumping once we warmed up. I took a few single fences and then a four stride double. Kristen is pretty experienced at jumping and all these jumps were small for her horse. She did little courses and added some interesting turns to use halves of combinations in the arena. It was pretty neat. Holly copied one of the combinations she had done and Uno did it so well. I liked having people to jump with. It made the whole ride really fun.
I also got a video of me jumping since Holly’s bf was there!
Aside from the fun things that happened, my focus this week while riding has been on improving the walk and practicing my two point. Scarlet’s walk is really really annoying. He strides out on his own terms and can really feel nice when he does. But asking him to move up and over his back at the walk is really frustrating. Two winters ago, we had a pretty nice walk but we seem to have lost all that. I’m trying to make sure that I’m not blocking him with my hands while at the same time making sure that I’m not just giving him his head. He wont ever get connected to the bridle if there is nothing to connect with. This is getting frustrating but I have to tell myself that it’s baby steps forward. He is naturally head high and that means he doesn’t lift his back well. I haven’t been working at the walk much until recently so it’s not going to get better in a handful of weeks.
As for my two point, I haven’t timed myself again yet. I did so every day I rode last Oct. I guess competitions really push me. Not sure what that says about me… I have been practicing though. I’ve been standing in the two point for our whole cooldown. That means it’s overall about 5+ minutes of standing at a walk. It’s still working the muscles and hopefully building my time. I haven’t done it at trot for a bit. Trot is my personal nemesis with two point so I will only time myself there. I need to do that this week and get a shake on improving.
So, I’ve tried the piper knit breeches with the silicone knee patches. They definitely don’t seem to interfere with my leg movement when I’m riding. The only time that I noticed it was when I was cantering. I think that’s actually a good thing though. My legs aren’t as stable as I’d like them to be. The cling made me notice it and then I worked on keeping them still. I tried them bareback as well which really wasn’t any better or worse than my other breeches. I did notice that they seem to have two layers to them. I felt the outer layer move around while riding and the inner layer sticking to me. Not a bad thing, just something I noticed.
This last Saturday was when I rode bareback. I did something different though. I rode between multiple arenas with Scarlet. He’s been trying to dip out of the arena after we warm up like “Oh I’m done now right?”. So I wanted to remind him that we work when I say we work. He actually did pretty well with focusing on me when I said to. We had to walk across the barn 4 times since we went back and forth twice. It was fun and I’ll probably do it again to remind him of this every once in a while.
Sunday, I went to the Mira Mar airshow and wore capris. I had a sunshirt on, a hat and 70spf that I reapplied a lot and then forgot my shins. So my legs were all burnt. The thing that hurts the worst when being burnt? Clothing rubbing on your burns. So no socks or breeches or boots for a couple of days.
I got back out on Wednesday (legs still slightly sensitive but I needed to get back out) and just did a basic ride. It was pretty cool and cloudy so Scarlet was feeling himself. He was a bit snorty and it took a bit to get him down and working. He did a good job and worked pretty well. I wanted to get my personal baseline for two-point-tober. I’m still planning on using this month as a motivation to work on it, even if there isn’t a competition this time. I got 0:31 which is better than my start last year but really demonstrates the loss from my final time due to the lack of practice for the rest of the year.
I took us out of the arena to cool down. As we started walking, there was a super loud plane noise. It was one of the jets from the base. They normally don’t end up over the barn. About half of the horses in the stalls started freaking out and running around. Scarlet… did not! He stopped and tensed up but stayed still and just stayed there while I patted his neck in reassurance. Once the plane was out of the immediate airspace, we continued walking. I was seriously proud of him for maintaining his cool. Military jets are uber loud and I wouldn’t have blamed him at all for freaking out. I am happy that this didn’t happen at the start of our ride. It would have taken quite a bit to get him relaxed after that.