Narrow Focus

I got to hang out with L. on Tuesday. It was super awesome to see her new barn. It’s very fancy, calm and clean. I had serious barn envy. But that barn is like 2.5x my budget so that’s not on my radar any time. Dante is still a lovable goober. He’s looking more and more like a chunk of a horse instead of a gangly baby boy.

After visiting L, I always end up thinking about doing transitions more. As a result, that rolled over into my ride on Wednesday. I had a shorter amount of time on Wednesday as I was making dinner that night.

My plan was to just do my normal warmup of w-t-c and then call it. I asked for a lot of up and down transitions. My goal was to make them quick off the cue and proper. I wanted Scarlet to go up into an actual trot and a forward canter when I asked for it rather than shuffling into the gait and then moving up properly. It wasn’t perfect but I’m going to try to do this more often so that Scarlet stops getting tense during them.

Friday we did more transitions. Scarlet still got tense, as I expected him to do. It’s going to be a long process of getting him to stop anticipating. It might not even happen. He’s always been a horse that tries to anticipate rather than wait. They really do improve the gaits. I focused on the transitions within the warmup to make sure we improved everything right from the start.

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Someone had raised the crossrails to verticals since the last time I’d ridden in the jump arena. I figured I’d give it a chance. It was messy for sure. We didn’t knock anything down but I attribute that more to how athletic Scarlet can be with jumping.

After doing the circle both ways (we need to really work much harder on that one later) I wanted to ride the white line again. Since I knew I had to just let Scarlet go a bit shorter strides to make it (such baby pony strides he has) I figured we could manage it.

We did the vertical to the gate first. I asked for a shorter stride aaaaaand we added more than we needed to. I did it again and just didn’t mess with him. It went much better.

I’ve always gone vertical to the gate but figured I really should do it the other way as well. We cantered around on the right lead and over the gate. Scarlet just had to stare straight down at the fence and had no momentum. He smashed through the top pole of the fence. Full on both forelegs smack in the middle of his cannons.

Sigh.

I pulled him to a stop and replaced the pole. After getting back on, we went around and reapproached. It must have gotten through Scarlet’s skull that the previous attempt kinda hurt. He did a no-touchy jump with about an extra foot of space. I wasn’t quite ready for it and I yanked on his mouth. We ended up trotting to the vertical and going over it.

We regrouped at the walk for a moment and then we reapproached. This time, I grabbed a large chunk of mane and kept myself out of his way. He still didn’t want to touch the pole (duh dude…) but it wasn’t as dramatic as the previous one. I gave him a big pat and a cookie and then we cooled down.

Saturday we had a nice relaxed bareback ride. Scarlet was super duper relaxed from the start. We had about 12 total minutes of trot and canter and otherwise, we just walked for almost half an hour. It was a nice relaxed ride. I love when we are both on the same wavelength for rides.

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Oooohh!

I had a wedding to attend in the bay area this past weekend. (Yes the air was bad but the wedding was lovely.) As a result, I didn’t get out to ride for about four days.

I went out on Tuesday, expecting it to be a bit of a pain. Scarlet had sat for four days and I was going out super early, ie breakfast time. I wasn’t planning on doing more than just moving around because it wouldn’t be fair to either of us to push it.

Scarlet was a little surprised to see me out there but since I started grooming him in his stall, he didn’t get annoyed.

After tacking up, I noticed this in the jump arena:

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Is that a circle of death?

So, naturally, I had to try it out. But only if Scarlet felt like it. If he was tight and too energetic from sitting, we would just push it to another day. He felt great and so I took us over the circle at a trot first. It’s a good thing I did because he decided the fence around the arena was spooky when looked at straight on.

After we ironed out the trot, I went to the canter. It was chunky. We got some odd distances and weird turns for a bit. After a while though, it smoothed out. We got one really good circle to the left. The right is his stiffer side and was much harder but he was working with me and trying to leave the ground where I brought him to, rather than adding strides to get right up to the fence. So I called it good for the day.

I hope those fences stay like that for a while. I’d like to try it again with the fences actually at a fence height that would make him jump rather than have a large canter stride. Yes, I know I could just move the fences around again later but I’m lazy. 😉

 

Windy Days

I’ve been riding pretty consistently except for these past few days. The lack of posts is probably more due to NaNoWriMo than anything. Once I’ve written upwards of 1667 words a day, it’s hard to convince myself to write more. Blog posts still use the creative section of my brain. Oh well. Nano is going well. I’m ahead of the par wordcount by a full day. It helps on the days that I can’t quite get the full word count.  Onto riding news!

The clip seems to be working well. Scarlet dries a lot faster while we ride. We haven’t been doing too many night rides lately so I have plenty of time to cool him down. Since the days heat up still down here, I’m happy he has a bit less hair to deal with.

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I’ve been focusing a bit more on transitions as they are just really bad. I’d like for us to be able to do them without Scarlet getting all tense and anticipatory. That’s a work in progress. I’m trying to make them less of a big deal and something we just do. It only works some of the time. The upward transitions are pretty good for the most part. The downwards are either super slow or he jolts onto his forehand. A work in progress. It’s good to have something to focus on though.

I haven’t jumped much recently. This week has been super windy. Monday night was horrible. I was considering doing a bareback ride but Scarlet was wired when I was grooming him. Definitely was not interested in taking a nose dive because I was stupid enough to choose the wrong tack.

After we got it together, I hopped on. We rode around the jumping arena with the lights on and Scarlet barely held it together by the edge of his shoes. He was trying really hard to look at everything but also listen to me. He spooked a bit and I didn’t want to push. He’d spooked into a mini bolt and as there was a tiny kid riding in a lesson, I didn’t want to scare her or have to steer a freaked out horse. After we got a basic w-t-c done, I called it for the day.

Wednesday, it was still uber windy so I did some lounge work with him. He spooked and never settled down. That’s not usual for him with the lounge.

Thursday it was finally less windy and we got a really good ride done. Lots of transitions, circles, and serpentines. He’s really resistant to bending to the right lately and I really need to work on that. But I was happy with his work. We did a loop of the trail as a cool down. He did try to jig about halfway through so I had to choke up on the reins and tell him we were walking down the sandstone hill, not trotting. Overall, he’s doing okay on the trail. I just need to get him out there more until it becomes a boring thing.

It’s getting hot in here

So I took of Scarlet’s clothes.

Well, his hair.

It’s depressingly hot down here in San Diego. We will get a few nice days of low 70s and then it decides to jump back to mid 80s. Scarlet is at a barn that is more inland so it’s always warmer no matter what. It’s getting to the point that we get soaking wet with sweat before our warmup is finished. Cooling out is difficult as it does cool down a lot at night and I don’t want to put him up wet.

Last year I shaved his neck and shoulders for the same reason. This year, I decided to do more of a modified trace clip and get some of his belly in there.

He doesn’t like the covered crossties where the power sockets are. For one, we never go up there so its a completely new place. Also, he can’t see very well out of that area so any sounds really set him off. I coaxed him in with a handful of baby carrots and got set up.

I have to say, every time I shave him, I’m very impressed with how politely he stands. He doesn’t stand still hardly at all when I’m just grooming him but as soon as I start shaving, the most he does is shift side to side to get some flies off of him. He is so well behaved. I had about half a bag of carrots and a pocket full of treats and he got all of them before I’d finished clipping.

It’s not the prettiest clip job in the world but its pretty good. It should do the job of keeping us cooler when we ride. I could have tried to clean it up some more but I was so done with clipping at that point. I have no idea how anyone ever does a full body clip. So much work!

Ignoring the right

I didn’t end up riding at all this last weekend and Monday. I’d signed up for a Jui Jitsu gym recently for a cheap 6-week membership. I ended up straining my neck muscles during the Saturday class. I thought it was from hitting my head on the mat ( I fell wrong during an exercise. Not badly cause my head didn’t hurt.) I thought I’d take Saturday off just to be careful as my neck was a little painful. I thought it was a bit of whiplash or something like that. Then I woke up on Sunday morning and OH. MY. GOD. My neck hurt.

On the pain scale, it was about a 7. Nothing sharp but it was so stiff and sore. I didn’t have the full range of motion I normally did. I took so much Advil and kept a rice sock heated and on my neck all day. Monday was much better but still a 1 or a 2. I figured out that it was muscle pain (probably from some headlock stuff we were doing for a self-defense move) but I didn’t want to risk doing any serious movement until there was no pain.

Tuesday, I headed out sometime after lunch to ride. Scarlet was… obstinate. He was responsive, more or less, to everything I asked but did it all with such attitude. I had to really get on him with the transitions to even get him moving at a reasonable pace during the ride. He was stiff on all sides. It wasn’t a horrible ride but he was not feeling it.

Since I haven’t been consistent in riding the last couple of weeks, I figured I’d give that ride to him. It wasn’t worth it to really get mad at him if its partially my fault for not actually working him.

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His ears are always like this when we do a warmup around the barn. He loves it so much.

 

Thursday I went out and he was still not really willing. He was super belligerent with ignoring anything my right leg told him to do. Moving off it required serious spur before he’d even think about it. The right leg had been the harder leg to get him to move off of for a while now but it has not been this bad.

Hopefully, my schedule will normalize a bit and I can ride more. I am going to have to think about the right leg deadness and figure out what I’m going to do about it. Its infuriating during a ride but I’m not sure I really know what do to. I’ll have to try to flip through some riding books and do some google searching. If any of you guys have things to try, please let me know.